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November 30, 2019

OPCW Manipulation Of Its Douma Report Requires A Fresh Look At The Skripal 'Novichok' Case

With regards to the revelations about the OPCW management manipulation of its staff reports the former UN weapon inspector Scott Ritter makes a very valid point:

Thanks to an explosive internal memo, there is no reason to believe the claims put forward by the Syrian opposition that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Douma back in April. This is a scenario I have questioned from the beginning. It also calls into question all the other conclusions and reports by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was assigned in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Besides its activities around dubious 'chemical' incident in Syria there is another rather famous case in which the OPCW got involved: The alleged 'Novichok' attack on Sergei and Julia Skripal in Salisbury, Britain.

We discussed the OPCW involvement in the Skirpal case in our April 15 2018 report: Were the Skripals 'Buzzed', 'Novi-shocked' Or Neither?

The Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, threw a bombshell at the British assertions that the collapse of the British secret agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4 in Salisbury was caused by a 'Novichok' nerve agent 'of a type developed by Russia'. (See our older pieces, linked below, for a detailed documentation of the case.)

  • The Skripal poisoning happened on March 4.
  • Eye witnesses described the Skripals as disoriented and probably hallucinating. The emergency personal suspected Fentanyl influence.
  • A few days later the British government claimed that the Skripals had been affected by a chemical agent from the 'Novichok' series which they attributed to Russia. It insinuated that the Skripals might die soon.
  • A doctor of the emergency center at the Salisbury District Hospital publicly asserted that none of its patients was victim of a 'nerve agent'.
  • On March 14, after much pressure from Russia, Britain finally invited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to analyze the blood of the victims and to take environmental samples.
  • The OPCW arrived on March 19 and took specimen on the following days. It also received a share of the samples taken earlier by the British chemical weapon laboratory in Porton Down, which is only some 10 miles away from Salisbury.
  • The OPCW split the various samples it had in a certified laboratory in the Netherlands and then distributed them to several other certified laboratories for analysis.
  • One of those laboratories was the highly regarded Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland which is part of the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection and fully certified.
  • On April 12 the OPCW published a public version of the result of the analyses it had received from its laboratories.
  • A more extensive confidential version was given to the state members that make up the OPCW.

During a public speech yesterday Lavrov stated of the OPCW report:

[A] detailed and fairly substantial confidential version was distributed to the OPCW members only. In that report, in accordance with the OPCW way of conduct, the chemical composition of the agent presented by the British was confirmed, and the analysis of samples, as the report states, was taken by the OPCW experts themselves. It contains no names, Novichok or any other. The report only gives the chemical formula, which, according to our experts, points to an agent that had been developed in many countries and does not present any particular secret.

After receiving that report Russia was tipped off by the Spiez Laboratory or someone else that the OPCW report did not include the full results of its analysis.

According to Lavrov this is what the Spiez Laboratory originally sent to the OPCW:

“Following our analysis, the samples indicate traces of the toxic chemical BZ and its precursor which are second category chemical weapons. BZ is a nerve toxic agent, which temporarily disables a person. The psycho toxic effect is achieved within 30 to 60 minutes after its use and lasts for up to four days. This composition was in operational service in the armies of the US, the UK and other NATO countries. The Soviet Union and Russia neither designed nor stored such chemical agents. Also, the samples indicate the presence of type A-234 nerve agent in its virgin state and also products of its degradation.

The "presence of type A-234 nerve agent", an agent of the so called 'Novichok' series, in its "virgin state", or as the OPCW stated in "high purity", points to later addition to the sample. The 'Novichok' agents are not stable. They tend to fall rapidly apart. Their presence in "virgin state" in a sample which was taken 15 days after the Skripal incident happened is inexplicable. A scientist of the former Russian chemical weapon program who worked with similar agents, Leonid Rink, says that if the Skripals had really been exposed to such high purity A-234 nerve agent, they would be dead.

The whole case, the symptoms shown by the Skripals and their recuperation, makes way more sense if they were 'buzzed', i.e. poisoned with the BZ hallucinogenic agent, than if they were 'novi-shocked' with a highly toxic nerve agent.

The OPCW had send blood samples from the Skripals to the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland which found BZ, a psycho agent 25 times stronger than LSD. The OPCW hid this fact in its reports.

An attack with BZ on the Skripals would be consistent with the observed symptoms that bystanders had described. The Skripals were indeed hallucinating and behaved very strangly with Sergei Skipal lifting his arms up to the sky while sitting on a bench. Exposure to BZ would also explain the Skripals' survival.

The OPCW explained the BZ find by claiming that it had mixed BZ into the probe to test the laboratory. Something which it said it regularly does. At that time I still believed in the OPCW and found that explanation reasonable:

The OPCW responded to Russian question about the BZ and high rate of A-234 in the Spiez Laboratory probe and report.

OPCW said today that it was a control probe to test the laboratory. Such probes are regularly slipped under the real probes to make sure that the laboratories the OPCW uses are able to do their job and do not manipulate their results.

That explanation is reasonable.

I guess we can close the BZ theories and go back to food poisoning as the most likely cause of the Skripals' illness.

In light of the OPCW management manipulation or suppression of the reports of its own specialists for the purpose of attributing the Douma incident to the Syrian government I have to change my opinion. I hereby retract my earlier acceptance of the OPCW's explanation in the Skripal case.

As we now know that the OPCW management manipulates reports at will we can no longer accept the 'control probe' excuse without further explanations or evidence.

Here is what seems to have happened.

The OPCW did not send a control sample to Spiez to test the laboratory. It sent the original samples from the Skripals. Spiez found BZ and reported that back to the OPCW. The OPCW suppressed the Spiez results in its own reports. Somehow Russia got wind of the Spiez results and exposed the manipulation.

Acceptance that the Skripals had been 'buzzed', not 'novi-shocked' is central to the Skripal case. It makes the whole Skripal case as a British operation to prevent the repatriation of Sergei Skripal to Russia much more plausible.

Posted by b on November 30, 2019 at 19:34 UTC | Permalink

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By the writings from the Wehrmacht soldiers we have today, we can see that it was not Nazi ideology per se which convinced them to invade the Soviet Union, but the nine consecutive years of extremely virulent anti-Russian propaganda spread in Germany during the 1930s (plus the myth Bolshevik conspiracy caused 1918).

The West is preparing its population psychologically to go to war against Eurasia -- Russia + China. They are appealing to irrational propaganda to achieve so: painting the picture of "Russian deceitulness" (this plus the WADA propaganda warfare) and of "Chinese asiatic despostism" and "Chinese exotism". They are planning for the long term -- maybe even 20 to 30 years of consecutive brainwashing of their own population so they can cultivate unconditional hatred for the Eurasians.

If true, then this option also indicates the Western elites are anticipating their own decline or even a collapse. If Gramsci's theory on the rise of fascism holds true, then expect the rise of an Anglo-Saxon version of fascism.

Posted by: vk | Nov 30 2019 19:46 utc | 1

At MoA you get a 100% pure dose of honest reporting and fact finding! Thanks b.

Posted by: Symen Danziger | Nov 30 2019 19:47 utc | 2

Thank you b for this revision of the Skripal hoax. The find of pure Novichok was the fatal flaw from the very beginning. The UK is never to be trusted and inept to boot.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 30 2019 19:51 utc | 3

b - thanks for reconsidering this skripal case in light of the opcw scandal that is being kept under wraps.. this is another phony edifice erected by the west to create what @1 vk articulates - an anglo-saxon version of fascism towards eurasia..

the whole skripal affair is now standing on even more shaky ground..

Posted by: james | Nov 30 2019 20:19 utc | 4

Spiez lab and its staff might not have as much reason to frame Russia or Syria for that kind of stuff, not being part of NATO despite being in a Western capitalist country. It's quite possible that the bulk of the staff has no horses in that game and wants to just do the job - and it's very possible that one or two people there are pissed off enough to blow the whistle on one part of the ongoing fakeries. After all, this occurred to people whose countries were heavily involved in such shenanigans (Scott Ritter, Craig Murray and Edward Snowden being good examples), and most probably also happened with the Douma report. Basically, it will be interesting to see if there's any whistleblowing about the Skripal analyses in the near future.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Nov 30 2019 20:19 utc | 5

@vk in 20 to 30 years the East will have risen. All this propaganda will be for nothing. With the systems of mass communication and much greater lack of trust in authority and the MSM, these attempts to paint Russia and China in a bad light won’t be as effective as is hoped. The western govts. and elites are hurting themselves far more than any war can hurt the new powers arising. I read somewhere, ( I apologise that I cannot find the article ), that the U.S. is planning a limited yield tactical nuclear weapon attack delivered by stealth bomber on Iran. I don’t know if this is in any way true. However Ultimately Chess and the Chinese game of Go require far more sophisticated thinking than checkers or poker. The west is very predictable in it’s thinking and the East is advancing faster than the west can sucessfully react.

@uncle tungsten. The U.K. authorities And management are incompetent and not to be trusted. Not so the scientists, engineers and others in the employ of the civil service.

Posted by: Beibdnn | Nov 30 2019 20:28 utc | 6

Thanks for the Novichok/OPCW follow up b

It does makes sense that the Skripal's were buzzed as you write and that it is more propaganda falling apart.

This time it is propaganda that was focused on Russia and I am glad to read that Lavrov is making the findings of the cover up more public.

One can only hope that more threads of propaganda come unraveled and the putrid house of cards built to cover up the global private finance controlled Western society falls apart soon.

At what point are there prosecutions for this sort of "war crimes" against countries?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 30 2019 20:51 utc | 7

And this leads to further questions:

1. Why did Skripal desire to repatriate in so hidden a manner?

2. Why did the U.K. pull out all the stops to prevent him from exiting the country? What did they fear about his repatriation?

I think both questions lead us back to the Steele dossier.

Posted by: WJ | Nov 30 2019 21:00 utc | 8

Clueless Joe @ 5 wrote: "Spiez lab and its staff might not have as much reason to frame Russia or Syria for that kind of stuff, not being part of NATO despite being in a Western capitalist country."

Actually, the Spiez lab is directly linked to NATO, as is Switzerland, through the smoke screen of the "Peace Partnership" ("Partenariat pour la paix" in its official French version).

It already go into big trouble once, quite a while ago, for being used by NATO to whitewash United States use of uranium/depleted uranium weapons. That, apparently, went down badly with most of the staff, so, if they are on the up-and-up, one might attribute it to: once burned, twice shy.

Posted by: RJPJR | Nov 30 2019 21:04 utc | 9

Nailed in the head. All and every work from @OPCW should be deeply investigated, it has, clearly, shown to be a corrupt organization, would like to see its leaders and key investigators involved in those many crimes arrested and in jail.

Posted by: Canthama | Nov 30 2019 21:24 utc | 10

Let us not confuse "The British" with an extreme right wing Tory faction, of which Johnson is the public face, which, as reports coming out today remind us, has been enormously financed by Russian kleptocrats.

It is this report chronicling the influence of these oligarchs in funding the Tory party (hundreds of millions of dollars were raised) which was suppressed when it was due to be released on the eve of the current general election.

The point is that it is this alliance between ultra right Tories, controlling the party through their secret financing, and anti-Putin oligarchs of the Khodorkovsy, Browder type, which has been behind the waves of russophobic propaganda and provocations of which Skripal is but one, particularly flagrant instance.
This is the wing of the Tory party eighty years on, which was ready to sign a peace agreement with Germany in May 1940. The terms of which would have preserved their power and the empire and allied the UK with Germany in the attack on the Soviet Union.
Not to put too fine a point on it- the current leadership of the Tory party under Johnson are crypto fascists.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 30 2019 21:26 utc | 11

@ 7 psychohistorian.. that quote from b - "During a public speech yesterday Lavrov stated of the OPCW report" is actually from april 2018... it would be very good if lavrov actually did an update here given the latest info we now know have on the opcw process...

Posted by: james | Nov 30 2019 21:31 utc | 12

fascinating comments bevin.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Nov 30 2019 21:32 utc | 13

As I said at the time, the OPCW has become a political weapon subject to the whims of the UK and US's foreign policy. (thus the formation of a new attribution initiative body given the power to blame to whoever the UK and US wants).

ANYTHING coming from the technical secretariat (in particular whilst under Robert Fairweather) should be considered compromised.

The only thing with any remaining credibility at all are the direct field reports and the individual lab reports, both of which are considered confidential to the secretariat.

Posted by: S.O. | Nov 30 2019 21:33 utc | 14

1. "It sent the original samples from the Skripals."

No, because that doesn't explain the A-234 found by the lab. They were then not original following the suggested theory. We have to choose between "adding BZ as test" or "adding A-234 to deceive".

Checking some OPCW docs like "OPCW on-site and off-site analysis of samples" mention one authentic sample combined with one control sample containing scheduled chemicals & one blank sample containing no scheduled chemicals. It also makes sense to have control substances to exclude grave errors or manipulation. In other words the explanation makes sense. If not BZ then another scheduled chemical would have been there. Not named by Lavrov for some reason? The simplest solution here remains that Lavrov was blowing smoke or a rare misfire.

2. From MoA's earlier article, quoting Science Direct

"only a small amount of BZ is needed to produce complete incapacitation"

This would conflict with "lifting his arms up to the sky while sitting on a bench". That's not complete at all.

3. "consistent with the observed symptoms "

Also holds for Novichok: Andrei Zheleznyakov, who had been exposed to a minute amount of Novichok in a lab accident five years prior wrote he was, “seared by brilliant colors and hallucinations." Many other sources mention foaming at the mouth, hallucinations and pinpoint pupils.

As for the timing, don't confuse "pure" drops with emulsions, the very reason Novichok was being weaponized as it could be kept active and applied through gel and other more static forms. Clearly exposure rate would differ based on application method and its success. Delays could easily occur when it needs to travel eg through skin.

Posted by: John Dowser | Nov 30 2019 21:34 utc | 15

And Litvinenko. The man who prepared the crucial MI6 secret presentation to the chairman of the public inquiry was a colleague of Pablo Miller, the agent runner of Skripal. His name, Christopher Steele. A man the foreign office told the FBI is not reliable!!!

Posted by: M droy | Nov 30 2019 21:38 utc | 16

@13 James
I should have added that the oligarchs involved are the Fifth Columnist 'westernisers" whose objection to Putin is that he is orientated towards eurasia whereas they see their allies as Wall St and The City, which is where their ill gotten gains are.
In other words this is not about russophobia so much as a last ditch stand for the maritime empire in which they are literally invested heavily. It goes without saying-or should do- which middle eastern Apartheid state is also allied with the anti-Putin oligarchs. Which is why Vladimir, who knows what its all about, does everything he can, verbally, to demonstrate his solidarity with the afore unmentioned Apartheid regime.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 30 2019 21:41 utc | 17

Yeah so are they lying only to the public or to the government as well?

In the one case they are negligent and
In the second they are treasonous.

Posted by: jared | Nov 30 2019 21:49 utc | 18

@ james #12 with the correction to my claim about the timing of the Lavrov statement...thanks.

@ bevin # 11 who writes that the British Tory party is a tool of Russian oligarchs...any documentation of that?

And writing about British Tory obfuscation, I am struggling with reading Web of Debt that keeps talking about Bank of England when I know it got nationalized in 1946 but where is the documentation about if/how the City of London Corp still has control behind the scenes? Or don't they? Your Tory claim seems like it should be about the City of London Corp folks but I have no data to back it up.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 30 2019 21:49 utc | 19

UN is owned by west will not pursue war crimes. Responsible parties should no longer lend it legitemacy.

Posted by: jared | Nov 30 2019 21:57 utc | 20

A smoke-blower accuses Lavrov of blowing smoke?

The smoke-blower wants the reader to believe that it is possible for pure novichok to be present in blood samples taken weeks later due to some fancy formulation of the novichok, as if it were designed to be time-released. Sounds clever, but it requires an entire network of lies to cover for one. The lies must grow exponentially. If the novichok were formulated such that its pure form was released into the Skripals' bodies weeks after initial exposure, wouldn't that imply that the Skripals were then contaminated with pure novichok during the entire intervening period between exposure and when the samples were taken? It seems unlikely that the novichok would conveniently choose the moment right before samples were taken to re-release itself. Rather, the novichok would have to be continuously releasing in its pure form the whole time. Surviving brief minimal exposure to "eight times more toxic than the VX" novichok is marginally (almost) believable, but weeks of continuous exposure to detectable quantities of novichok in its pure form? Hopefully nobody here is stupid enough to swallow that whopper whole.

Continue to see through the blown smoke, folks, and don't fall for the FUD.

Posted by: William Gruff | Nov 30 2019 22:18 utc | 21

This is rather horribly suggests that those who thought the Skripal business was BS are right. It is truly siht to have ones worst views of ones own government confirmed.
Meanwhile Julian Assange is in jail. Very depressing.

Posted by: Mr Z | Nov 30 2019 22:33 utc | 22

Psychohistorian #19

The documentary film "The Spider's Web: Britain's Second Empire," on the construction and use of tax havens by the British financial elite, may well offer some answers, or thought-provokers, to your question.
I saw it quite awhile ago and recall that it was very good, although now I do not recall all the details.
Very worth watching anyhow.

Read the commentary here on the film:

Posted by: Really?? | Nov 30 2019 22:36 utc | 23

At the time of the Skripal business I stumbled on an explanation of the whole affair in a conversation on twitter. It's the only account that makes sense and fits with your statement that it had to do with Skripal's repatriation. The 3 letter user-name said:
1.Skripal wanted to visit his mother before she died.
2.Putin said ok if you provide some info.
3.Skripal got the info - not specified but he was working on Russian Mafia in London.
4.Putin sent the 2 guys in jeans to collect it.
5.Meanwhile MI6 had discovered the plot so MI6 sprayed the Skripals with Fentanyl on the park bench.
6.The 2 guys saw and scarpered back to Russia.
7.MI6 destoyed Skripals' house to conceal whatever they'd been up to.
I can't recall the name of the informant and couldn't find the stream of comments when I looked. It just sickens me that my government lies and falsely accuses others - always Russia.

Posted by: Andrea Sutton | Nov 30 2019 22:39 utc | 24

"somehow Russia got wind of the Spiez results"
if you remember there was a GRU team which was arrested in the Netherlands for spying on the OPCW which certain members of the Western intelligence community took great delight in crowing about their capture. I suspect that was a put up job to convince the OPCW that nobody was listening into them, but the GRU had another team in place that was bugging the OPCW long term.

Posted by: Ghost ship | Nov 30 2019 22:51 utc | 25

@ Posted by: bevin | Nov 30 2019 21:26 utc | 11

In my opinion, the UK's geopolitical situation vis-à-vis Russia is pretty much straightforward: it needs to keep Russia down (i.e. keep it at a Third World status akin to an European version of Brazil) while, at the same time, pleasing the USA.

It can achieve both in exactly one scenario: if it keeps siphoning Russian wealth through its anti-nationalist oligarchs (thus vampirically weakening Russia) laundering their money in London while tarnishing Russia's image as an anti-Western values boogie man to its people -- but without letting it know that the UK as a whole benefits from looted Russian wealth.

That's why, the MI6 engages (my theory) directly on anti-Russia propaganda: because it is essential to UK's geopolitical position ("national security") for it to be effective, so they don't trust the private sector to do the job entirely. At the same time, the City siphons Russian money, weakening Russia as a nation. The result of this combined, "two-pronged" attack (propaganda + financial warfare), is the illusion -- from the point of view of the average British citizen -- that Russia's weakening is fruit of its own corruption, i.e. of its anti-Western values. And all of this while they keep the USA happy.

The problem is that the British capitalism itself begun to deteriorate after the 2008 meltdown. The UK never recovered from that crisis, which culminated with Brexit in June 2016 and the ascension of Jeremy Corbyn (an obscure Bennite from a safe seat in northern London) to the Labour Party leadership. This situation shortened the timeframe with which the MI6 could work with, hence this series of seemingly badly crafted false flag operations (Litvinienko, Skripal, WADA, OPCW, Jo Cox's murder), all of which border the vulgar.

This hypothesis of mine would also explain why the British left, led by Corbyn, clearly wants to reverse the clock to the times where the UK still had a viable manufacture. At this point in time, Corbyn must've already realized this rentier economy UK will led the country either to utter collapse or to outright neofascism (which will result in a hot war with Russia-China, as an American axis member). We can smell the desperation coming out of that Labour manifesto -- it's really a last and late attempt to revive social-democracy there.

Posted by: vk | Nov 30 2019 23:09 utc | 26

William Gruff @ 21:

When OPCW inspectors took samples of the Skripals' blood for analysis, did they themselves actually watch medical staff take the blood from the patients, label the samples and hand them to the inspectors in secure packaging? Or did the inspectors accept the packaged samples from the British without observing the aforementioned medical procedure? If the latter, then there's the likelihood that the British spiked nearly 2-week-old blood samples with fresh A234 nerve agent. If OPCW were as corrupted and sloppy then as we now know them to be, that scenario would be the most Occam's-Razor abstemious and plausible. The above questions are what the smoke blower should have asked.

Posted by: Jen | Nov 30 2019 23:30 utc | 27

Don't forget they trotted out this nitwit, I mean nurse, to bolster the claims of novichok poisoning. And the equally credulous MSM and lay public lapped it up. Seriously, a nurse adds credibility to the nonsense???

Posted by: Rich | Nov 30 2019 23:59 utc | 28

"The OPCW explained the BZ find by claiming that it had mixed BZ into the probe to test the laboratory."

I have a question about that: how does the OPCW slip a mickey into samples that are SUPPOSED to be tamper-proof?

Aren't the samples sighted, sealed and signed on the spot by the OPCW field investigators?

From that moment until the samples are opened at the test laboratory they are not to be tampered with and (I assume, correct me if I am wrong) any test laboratory would refuse to test any samples where there is any sign of tampering.

I guess the OPCW could add another vial into the mix, but that can't be done in the field (unless you are willing to suppose that the OPCW field investigators flew into Britain with BZ hidden amongst their gear). And, again, the OPCW runs the risk that the test laboratory notices that one of the vials is bogus and as a result refuses to accept any of the samples.

The OPCW explanation does not make sense because there is absolutely no reason for it.

The results of the Swiss laboratory is going to be independently attested to by the results from the other two laboratories, so if the Swiss aren't doing their job then the OPCW is going to know it.

Send them some test samples with Stuff You Know Because You Put It In There, sure.
I have no problem with that. It is an obvious way to test the competency of the Swiss.

But you can do that at any time, heck, you could make it a weekly game of "spot the poison".

But doing it when real shit is hitting the fan? When did that ever get smart?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 1 2019 0:24 utc | 29

"A doctor of the emergency center at the Salisbury District Hospital publicly asserted that none of its patients was victim of a 'nerve agent'."

Am I the only person who suspects that this letter to the local paper was the singular event that saved the Skripal's lives?

That doctor was putting the Powers That Be on notice with that letter, no two ways about it.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 1 2019 0:36 utc | 30

Jen @27 rhetorically asked: "... did they [OPCW] themselves actually watch medical staff take the blood from the patients, label the samples and hand them to the inspectors in secure packaging? Or did the inspectors accept the packaged samples from the British without observing the aforementioned medical procedure?"

Logically it would have to be the former or the samples would be invalid for any legal, investigative, or scientific purposes, but you are correct that we don't know that. If the former then either at least one of the inspectors was in on the scam and helped switch the samples, or the inspectors were not as vigilant as they should have been (not expecting subterfuge from perfidious honest Albion) and allowed themselves to be distracted at a critical moment in the process during which time the vials were palmed and spiked ones substituted, or (this is my suspicion) the vials used to contain the samples were contaminated ahead of time with pure novichok (the quantity necessary would not be visible to the unaided eye).

Then again, the OPCW claims that they spiked some of the samples with BZ as a "test", and of course at that point they could have also spiked other samples with novichok. If the BZ spiked samples were indistinguishable from the other samples to the labs that did the testing, then by their own admission that means the OPCW used identical secure packaging and a falsified provenance for those samples. If they used bogus provenance for some samples, how can we trust the provenance of any samples they provided? Were the samples kept in tamper-resistant cases and only opened in the presence of independent witnesses and with video cameras running from multiple angles? I rather doubt it, so at the end of the day we are just expected to trust what the OPCW management claims. All of my trust was used up long ago.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 1 2019 0:43 utc | 31

Who put the pure Novichok in the blood samples? I don't believe Porton Down, or MI6 for that matter (who would have obtained said chemicals from Porton Down) are so scientifically inept. They would have known this would be picked up in testing. This is either pure Cluseau (possible), or there is another explanation. What is the audit path from the blood samples being taken?

Posted by: cdvision | Dec 1 2019 0:45 utc | 32

@30 Not quite.

What would be normal is for the sample to be collected in situ by OPCW staff. For cases where on site analysis is possible the sample is then split into 8 different sub samples. 1 Reference, 2 for on site analysis (using portable tools) and a further 5 for off site analysis where the 5 are then split between two different labs.

Where on site analysis is impractical/impossible the sample is collected on site and sent to the OPCW's lab where it is then split into smaller lots for distribution to 2 test labs.

Personally I've never heard of anyone adulterating a live biological sample with anything to use it as a test/reference or calibration marker in any circumstances at all... but that's just me.

Posted by: S.O. | Dec 1 2019 0:48 utc | 33

Posted by: John Dowser | Nov 30 2019 21:34 utc | 15

"only a small amount of BZ is needed to produce complete incapacitation"

This would conflict with "lifting his arms up to the sky while sitting on a bench". That's not complete at all.

More smoke, perhaps?

The word "incapacitation" does not mean unconsciousness or paralysis. Indeed, victims may be quite agitated and one of the recommended treatments for BZ poisoning is sedation using benzodiazepines.

Posted by: farm ecologist | Dec 1 2019 0:57 utc | 34

One additional note: My reading of the reports (please correct me if I am wrong) is that the Spiez Laboratory did not claim that the BZ they detected in the samples was pure. If it were fresh and pure BZ like the novichok they found I think they might have mentioned that. Not mentioning it therefore suggests that the BZ they detected was degraded, or had decomposed into substances that the lab would expect to see in samples from individuals exposed weeks earlier.

This causes me to wonder a bit. Does the OPCW keep samples of partially decomposed or metabolized military-grade chemical weapons lying about their offices in the Hague to spike their samples with just to "test" the labs they work with? If so then why BZ? Why not VX or sarin? Why not just something that they can pick up at the local pharmacy like amphetamines or barbiturates? Why choose a chemical weapon that the US maintains an active supply of in its arsenals and one that the CIA likes to play with? This seems like too much of a coincidence.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 1 2019 1:29 utc | 35

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 1 2019 1:29 utc | 36

It's actually not that hard to obtain. BZ has legitimate scientific uses and is available from companies that sell research chemicals.

Posted by: farm ecologist | Dec 1 2019 2:18 utc | 36

John Helmer has been following the UK coroner - specifically that there still hasn't been an official pronouncement on the cause of death for Dawn Sturgess.
The entire affair has been cartoonish.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 1 2019 2:23 utc | 37

Could the Swiss lab have mixed up the sample with either a matrix matched check sample (CCV) or a calibration standard (C1 or c2)containing A 123?

Posted by: krollchem | Dec 1 2019 2:34 utc | 38

One wonders how Eliot "Bellingcrap" Higgins is handling all these revelations of the OPCW and establishment lies about Syria (and other issues) that he helped to promote.

Is he chewing his tie (ala Mikhail Saakashvili); having a nervous breakdown; or contemplating a return to his former career in women's lingerie?

Posted by: AK74 | Dec 1 2019 2:35 utc | 39

Beibdnn #6

@uncle tungsten. The U.K. authorities And management are incompetent and not to be trusted. Not so the scientists, engineers and others in the employ of the civil service.

Of course. I was far too broad brush.

I propose the following exceptions in your sweeping trust in the civil service: BBC staff, Porton Down staff, Military staff, Police staff in Salisbury, Local Government staff in control of cctv records of the Skripal Day events, Hospital staff, the Coroner and staff...

No doubt I could embellish the list further but let me say that the entire Skripal Day events have been significantly reported in the Blogmire, where from day one the editor and many contributors who NEVER believed the fairy tale have been consistently at it. They never believed the OPCW either and it received a merciless flogging from its first light of day. Equally the absurd nonsense story of the two Russian lads and their stay at the downtown London hostel were the subject of pitiless ridicule especially the TOTAL collaboration/blunder of the investigating police at that site.

Perfidious Albion is a threat to humanity, an insult to intelligence and perfectly so named. Neo conservative fanatics with a wretched Queen that tolerates paedophiles until she can no longer defend them. The Crown:- a barnacle on the arse of humanity.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 1 2019 2:47 utc | 40

Andrea Sutton #24

5.Meanwhile MI6 had discovered the plot so MI6 sprayed the Skripals with Fentanyl on the park bench.
6.The 2 guys saw and scarpered back to Russia.

Timing is everything here Andrea Sutton, the two guys departed Salisbury on the 1300 train (approx) the Skripals made a hasty exit from the Salisbury Inn at 1530 (approx) and were overcome immediately after and collapsed on the park bench.

It is highly likely that the switch had already occurred as the two lads returned by train to London then later that night to Russian Federation with their part of the bargain. They were not intercepted in the intervening hours!! That was a dirty black eye to perfidious Albion. But the Brits drugged and now have incarcerated the Skripals with no habeas corpus fuss. The tale has some mighty intriguing riddles and it is equally likely that nobody got anything due to mutual FUBAR circumstances.

No doubt theblogmire DOT com has a current item on the murder of Dawn Sturgess by the ineptitude of the Porton Down lads?, the inability of the police to watch and learn from cctv removed from public access?, fentanyl overdose blamed on Novihoax just for gravitas?.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 1 2019 3:08 utc | 41

Yeah, Right #31

Am I the only person who suspects that this letter to the local paper was the singular event that saved the Skripal's lives?

That doctor was putting the Powers That Be on notice with that letter, no two ways about it.

Perhaps that letter saved their lives:- at that point. It is also possible that he was the ONLY civil servant who was able to act in the public interest. Public dispersal of a nerve agent (real or imagined) in a village with a huge number of retired and active military/security personnel is potentially a panic generator.

Many months later Sergei made an unsuccessful telephone call to his niece in the Russian Federation that was recorded on her answering machine as she was absent. In that call he is heard asking for permission from some other in his room to leave a message and the call is just terminated. It is a riddle of espionage throughout and is entirely bundled in supposition arising from purposely generated mistrust by the powers that be.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 1 2019 3:41 utc | 42

45"Perhaps that letter saved their lives:- at that point. I"

Have their lives been "saved"? where are the Skripals?

Posted by: really?? | Dec 1 2019 3:56 utc | 43

b's timeline might shed light on the discussion regarding BZ:

  • On March 14, after much pressure from Russia, Britain finally invited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to analyze the blood of the victims and to take environmental samples.
  • The OPCW arrived on March 19 and took specimen on the following days. It also received a share of the samples taken earlier by the British chemical weapon laboratory in Porton Down ...

<> <> <> <>

And why did it take OPCW 5 days to arrive? WTF? It's not a f*cking war zone.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 1 2019 4:26 utc | 44

I'm glad to hear that you have changed your mind on the OPCW's treatment of the Skripal/Porton Down samples, though surprised to find that you accepted their implausible arguments at the time, which included the ridiculous statement that 50-100 mls of Novichok may have been present - enough to kill 5000 people - from director Uzumcu. I wrote a series of articles for AHT, following investigations into the chemistry of BZ and A234, as detailed in US manuals etc, and concluded that Sergei was likely suffering from BZ, but Yulia apparently not. She may have been given Fentanyl or other opioid by Sergei, as she was described as unconscious and vomiting - which are not symptoms of BZ. Nurse McCourt's attendance, with her daughter Abigail... was possibly to prescribe some further intoxicant, so as to be sure the victims didn't wake up while they were in admissions, and before PD staff could 'monitor" their treatment.

I also concluded that Sergei Skripal was an accomplice in this conspiracy, which had nothing to do with him going back to Russia, but everything to do with staging an "attack" to go with events in Syria - admitted by Andy Pryce from the FCO/IfS. The object was to frame Russia as a willing party and user of chemical weapons alongside "Assad", including the threat that together they might pose a threat to Europe - "the first use of CW in Europe since WW2"

But the greatest significance of this whole Skripal hoax is that it was a hoax against the police and emergency services in the UK and the whole population, who were made to think that the circus they witnessed in Salisbury was based on a danger to the public from a nerve agent. The danger to the public comes from Porton Down, GCHQ and Whitehall, and the current and previous UK government, about to be re-elected.

Posted by: David Macilwain | Dec 1 2019 7:08 utc | 45

Here is Sergei Lavrov doing his thing round about the time when this was all going down

Posted by: Maximus | Dec 1 2019 7:43 utc | 46

@all - I had to (again) delete several off-topic comments on this thread.

Please stick to the topic.

For everything else there are open threads.

Posted by: b | Dec 1 2019 7:45 utc | 47

Peter Hitchens in today's Mail on Sunday:
PETER HITCHENS: My secret meeting with mole at the heart of The Great Poison Gas Scandal

My source calmly showed me various pieces of evidence that they were who they said they were, and knew what they claimed to know, making it clear that they worked for the OPCW and knew its inner workings. They then revealed a document to me.

This was the email of protest, sent to senior OPCW officials, saying that a report on the alleged Syrian poison gas attack in Douma, in April 2018, had been savagely censored so as to alter its meaning.

No details yet of the email.

Posted by: b | Dec 1 2019 8:06 utc | 48

Beibdnn #6
@uncle tungsten. The U.K. authorities And management are incompetent and not to be trusted. Not so the scientists, engineers and others in the employ of the civil service. Of course. I was far too broad brush.

I can tell you that when a chemist runs a laboratory he or she is usually subject to a boss who knows little science (usually a lawyer or an engineer or a civil service long timer).. Clowns of this sort, often demand the chemist alter his or her lab results to fit the political situation and to accommodate the promotion expectation of the clown. I know a chemist who received a sample that had nothing to do with the investigation under way, given to him by one of his own technicians. The technician claimed the sample came from area under study; which it did, its content served to prove the government agency claim against the company.. later, 3 months or so it was,
The technician was personally testing the effects of C2H50H on his own human body. Unfortunately the chemical had caused his words to outperform his brain..he revealed that he was, at heart, an environmentalist, and that he was happy to see that he had fooled the company with his switch sample (the content of the sample supported the claims of the agency). Out of the blue, and for no reason except conversation, I asked him, where (what part of the lagoon, did you get the sample from), he said that was the neat part, it was a sample taken from the (designated place in the) Lagoon, but that it had been sitting on the shelf, in the lab, for three years. He just took the label off, relabeled it, and merged it with the other samples in the test group. My wife, also a chemist, w\n let me get the secret goes to this day (that was >40 years ago). The company in question went broke, and the technician has since died.

I have noticed over the years, that politicians and courts quiz the boss or the head of the laboratory for findings and meanings of the findings, but they never seem to ask under oath the technicians who actually took the sample or who actually ran the test, or even to see if the test was run or if the tests run on the sample were appropriate for the question, or if the sample was run on equipment known to be functioning properly at the time of the test. Never it seems is the technician asked to describe what he did or how it was done, or about circumstances unique to the situation. Always the technician should be asked, have you read the report of the laboratory, if yes, do you know something that has not come to light either in the report, the data from which the report was composed, or something about the way the results are being used, that might alter or change things? The important question does the technician personally have any reason to doubt the results or the use of the results of that test in the particular investigation.

So my question is: who gathered the sample[s], when was it taken, under what circumstances was it taken, how was it taken, how was the integrity of the content preserved until the testing was completed, do you believe the right tests were run to discern the matter in question of the sample, and the questions as above. What happened, show me where in the notebook that the test results were entered, confirm that the notebook entries are your own, and confirm that entries in the notebook are unaltered, etc. What are the testimonies of all of those involved from sample design to report findings and subsequently how are the findings being used?

So many times the guy at the bottom of the heap, the guy that got in the boat and wet suit and who took the risk to get the sample is the only person to ask. Testing begins, long before, the samples are taken, generally it starts with the design of a procedure hopefully representative of all possible questions which the investigation might encounter, and theoretically the case is never closed because better test come along, and new questions arise, that might change the report, facts sometimes come to light which change everything.

Posted by: snake | Dec 1 2019 8:15 utc | 49

Uncle Tungsten #41
re Petrov and Boshirov - I'm still puzzled at the continuing belief that these two tourists had some business with Sergei Skripal - despite the evidence they went nowhere near his house or in Salisbury. It was amply revealed by Elena Evdokimova how they were recruited by MI6 and Bellingcat through their passport dealer to visit Salisbury on March 4th for some unknown engagement, likely associated with their personal and business interests. They had absolutely no knowledge of the scheme, unlike the police who went to the east London hotel on May 2nd to test for Novichok, but never told us till September 6th, by which time all suspicions had evaporated.

Posted by: David Macilwain | Dec 1 2019 8:38 utc | 50

Notice how all this started to "surface" around about the time when Andrew gave his disastrous interview.. and a certain other person was indicted in Israel ... hmmm

Posted by: Maximus | Dec 1 2019 8:57 utc | 51

this is excellent work, but the msm is going to bury it if they can. i don't follow the msm, is this being reported on as a credible story or do they just mention it and then try to discredit it with some propaganda?

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 1 2019 9:39 utc | 52

So many events that are probably inter-related.

Trump took office on 20th January 2017. The head of GCHQ - Brannigan - stepped down for “health reasons” on 23rd January 2017. Was Brannigan the brain behind the Steele dossier? Had Skripal worked on the Steele dossier? Was HMG party to the CIA/FBI plot to undermine Trump’s bid for the presidency? It certainly appears that MI6 and CIA were working together when the woman Haspel told Trump tales of novichoked ducks in the river in Salisbury. Clearly the Skripal theatre was - as has already been pointed out here - also a means of painting the Russians as party to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

I dare say that there are a number of people in official positions in the UK - military, police, fire brigade, maybe even NHS, who have been threatened with losing their pensions if they blab.

Posted by: Montreal | Dec 1 2019 9:46 utc | 53

Like James Le Mesurier, Eliot Higgins has turned from an asset into a liability.

I would not be suprised if he commits "suicide". You can always blame those pesky Russians.

Posted by: Symen Danziger | Dec 1 2019 10:05 utc | 54

OPCW pretends (in its rules of proceeding) that it sends "control probes" to some laboratories in order to test these laboratories. I don't know, but couldn't the real aim of this (alleged) rule be that it offers an easy way to get rid of a compromising leak from a laboratory ?

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 1 2019 10:33 utc | 55

The article is incorrect in stating that the effects of BZ are similar to those of fentanyl or "Novichok". They are in fact opposite. Eg. opioids and nerve agents such as saurine and "Novichok" cause the pupils to dilate, whereas BZ causes them to constrict. BZ has been used as an antidote to choline esterase inhibitors in vitro and choline esterase inhibitors have been used as an antidote to BZ. They antagonize each other. So the emergency room staff would immediately know the difference. It is also inconceivable that the OPCW would spike the Skripal samples with BZ. They would not use any chemical that could actually be present in a sample as the internal standard; they would not mix quality control samples into the actual samples. So how did BZ and "Novichok" get into the Skripal samples and make it through the chain of custody without elicitating many questions? The most likely sinario is this: The Skripals arrive comatose in the emergency room and the doctors treat them for obvious opioid toxicity. A few hours later the police, MI6 and Porton Down scientists arrive to inform the hospital staff that the Skripals were actually exposed to a nerve agent and their only hope is to use a classified antidote drug based on BZ that Porton Down has been developing. The Skripals receive infusions of the antidote for a month and remain in a BZ induced stupor so that the supposed "Novichok" can be cleared from their systems. During this treatment some of the antidote is spiked with a small amount of real "Novichok" which is from a highly purified form used as a laboratory standard not as a warfare agent. The presence of BZ stops it from poisoning the Skirpals but it allows OPCW to draw samples from the Skripals that contain "Novichok" and its metabolites, but not its precursors which would be present in the military grade agent (or even breakdown products that would have been present if they had been contaminated by an external source of "Novichok". When the laboratories ask the OPCW how come the samples have BZ present? the British rep. says that its part of the classified antidote and it must remain secret because "we don't want the terrorists to find out about it". Most of the lab managers go along with this and the lame story about it having been used as a quality control agent is put out as cover, when one of the techs in the Swiss lab who is out of the loop talks to Lavrov. By the way, the UK gov was probably telling the truth when they declared that the Skripals were poisoned by a chemical nerve agent developed in Russia. The Russians used a volatile form of fentanyl, possibly mixed with ketamine to incapacitate Chechen terrorists at the Dubrovka Theater seige in 2002.

Posted by: Toxicologist | Dec 1 2019 10:35 utc | 56

Toxicologist (@56) wrote : "Eg. opioids and nerve agents such as saurine and "Novichok" cause the pupils to dilate, whereas BZ causes them to constrict."
Sorry, a Google search shows that opioids and nerve agents cause the pupils to constrict.

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 1 2019 10:52 utc | 57

@56 Toxic,

Super secret counteragent to organophosphorous poisoning is boring old over the counter galantamine. Research was released for guinea pig studies in 2005. (even worked against SOMAN which is pretty remarkable)

Posted by: S.O. | Dec 1 2019 11:11 utc | 58

Inquirer 57 is correct, my typo mistake: Opioids and Sarin cause miosis or constriction of the pupil size whereas BZ causes mydriasis, or dilation of the pupils. Nevertheless, the effect of BZ is opposite to opiates and cholinesterase inhibitor nerve agents.

Posted by: Toxicologist | Dec 1 2019 11:36 utc | 59

David Macilwaine #50

That story line was unknown to me but is equally plausible. There never was any tangible link and the way Putin publicly demanded they account for their journey made it likely they were somebodies chump.

I suspect the Skripals will not be seen or heard of again unless there is a socialist government elected in the UK that cant be blackmailed by Mi5 or Mi6.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 1 2019 11:53 utc | 60

uncle tungsten @40: "Of course. I was far too broad brush.

I propose the following exceptions in your sweeping trust in the civil service: BBC staff, Porton Down staff, Military staff, Police staff in Salisbury, Local Government staff in control of cctv records of the Skripal Day events, Hospital staff, the Coroner and staff..."

I think honest people not in on the operation lied. Consider:

"My wife, also a chemist, w\n let me get the secret goes to this day." --snake @49

I think it is more complex than just his wife told him to zip his lip about the crime. There are issues of maintaining secure employment, not making enemies at work and in the community, and basically not rocking the boat. If you throw on top of this the appearance of a major cloak-and-dagger operation involving unknown numbers of big-time "intelligence" agencies (a misnomer these days, I realize) from who knows which countries, then there is tremendous pressure for going along with the narrative being spun by the guys that seem to be on your own country's side. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if there are thousands of people in Salisbury and the area who know with firsthand or solid secondhand knowledge from trusted individuals that the whole episode was a hoax. Who would want to throw their career away by blowing their own country's cover story, and thus exposing themselves to attack and character-assassination in the mass media and even be shunned at church?

You expose an operation like this and you will not be treated like a hero. Quite the opposite. Just look at Julian Assange. It is no surprise that nobody close to the operation wants to stick their neck out.

Keep in mind that there is also a second dynamic in this sort of operation in which individuals not employed to perpetrate the crime will defend it wholeheartedly out of a sense of patriotism and obligation to support the home team, even knowing that it is a complete farce. Such people will rationalize supporting the crime by telling themselves that even though the Russians had nothing to do with events in Salisbury, they certainly did something bad elsewhere that they need to be punished for so it balances out. This dynamic in particular snares mass media and law enforcement workers, who already have the habit of looking the other way or cooking up cover stories when one of their "team" is in the wrong.

That last is also the motivation for individuals not on the Atlantic Council payroll showing up in discussion threads to blow smoke. It's that obligation to do one's duty to queen and country.

Posted by: William Gruff | Dec 1 2019 12:07 utc | 61

Gina Haspel was CIA chief of station in London in 2016, when the plot against Trump and the Steele dossier were dreamed up. She must have been involved.

Posted by: lysias | Dec 1 2019 12:52 utc | 62

The Spiez laboratory is not simply a place where scientists carry out tests on samples in a neutral manner. The head of its chemistry division, Stefan Mogl went much further than that in an interview with the 'Neue Zürcher Zeitung' last year, when he made remarks supporting the UK's official narrative.

He correctly pointed out that there can be a long delay in the onset of symptoms if nerve agent is touched with the hand.

However, he ignored the elephant in the room in the Skripal poisoning - not the delay itself, but the unbelievable claim that both victims collapsed at almost exactly the same time, two and a half hours after touching Novichok.

They collapsed so suddenly and simultaneously that neither of them had time to call for help when the other became ill. This is despite the difference in gender, age, weight and health condition between Yulia and Sergei. These factors should result in at least some difference in absorption of any poison.

If Mogl had taken that into consideration, he would not have described the timing of their collapse as "not implausible".
(In German)

Posted by: Brendan | Dec 1 2019 13:26 utc | 63

lysias @62: Gina Haspel ...

And yet Trump nominated her to be CIA Director. Even as (supposedly) anti-Trump critic John Brennan openly lobbied for her nomination.

Still, most people (even at moa) believe that Trump is at war with the Deep State, overlooking this nomination and a number of other facts that suggest otherwise.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 1 2019 13:54 utc | 64

Brendan, of interest? May 2017:

"The United Nations, in co-operation with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), has set up a joint investigation committee in 2015 to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons operations in Syria. Stefan Mogl, Head of Chemistry division of Spiez Laboratory, was appointed by the UN as Director Investigations Office until November 2017 for the second phase of the investigations. As former OPCW inspector and head of the OPCW Laboratory, Stefan Mogl has profound professional experience in this field. As an independent expert, Stefan Mogl will mainly be responsible for the professional coordination of the investigations and the investigation report."

Posted by: Jeremn | Dec 1 2019 13:54 utc | 65

It's possible that somebody attacked the Skripals with both BZ and Novichok - because BZ is believed to act as an antidote to nerve agents. The advantage of that for the attackers is that the Skripals could be incapacitated without being killed, and Russia could be blamed because the 'Russian designed' Novichok would be found in their blood.

A couple of expert scientists had a discussion about the BZ plus nerve agent combination and they agreed that it was quite safe. The only thing is that the effects of the BZ last long after the nerve agent is neutralised. That would mean that the victims (for example, the Skripals) would continue to be incapacitated (and therefore silenced).

Posted by: Brendan | Dec 1 2019 13:59 utc | 66

The OPCW report on Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess is a kinda carbon copy.

The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that intoxicated two individuals in Amesbury and resulted in one fatality.

The toxic chemical compound displays the same toxic properties of a nerve agent. It is also the same toxic chemical that was found in the biomedical and environmental samples relating to the poisoning of Mr Sergei Skripal, Ms Yulia Skripal, and Mr Nicholas Bailey on 4 March 2018 in Salisbury.

note. “DISPLAYS (??) the same toxic properties of a nerve agent.” Besides the lousy English, this sentence is scientifically meaningless.


I am convinced that Rowley and Sturgess were present very near / at (place-time) the bench scene where (reportedly) Yulia and Sergei collapsed in Salisbury. 1. It is interesting that the OPCW treats this incident in exactly the same way.

1. This may seem way-out, partly because the authorities have done all they can to deny any connection (see the mysterious perfume bottle..) but isn’t - the link was known / hypothesized from day 2, 3 (after March 4)..and found a gruesome confirmation when Charlie and Dawn were affected.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 1 2019 14:37 utc | 67

As noted by Brendan @ 63 and by Jeremn @ 65, Stefan Mogl, Head of Chemistry division of Spiez Laboratory, is a "former OPCW inspector and head of the OPCW Laboratory". Thus, is it very likely that the OPCW felt the need to test the credibility of the Spiez Laboratory by putting BZ in the sample ?

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 1 2019 14:58 utc | 68

Thanks for this update based upon evidence and reason. In a Western world in which irrationality and complete madness has become the "official" MSM norm - every glimmer of "truth" feels like a breath of fresh air to those of us who feel we are suffocating in this world of mass idiocy being fabricated before our very eyes.

Posted by: Gary Weglarz | Dec 1 2019 15:29 utc | 69

On March 14 .. Britain finally invited the OPCW to analyze the blood of the victims and to take environmental samples. The OPCW arrived on March 19 …It also received a share of the samples taken earlier by the British chemical weapon laboratory in Porton Down ... And why did it take OPCW 5 days to arrive? WTF? It's not a f*cking war zone. Jack r. @ 44

The whole ‘getting the OPCW’ in was slow.... It was deemed that legal permission to take blood samples from the living (but unable to give consent) Skripals was needed, imho nonsense, a dilatory move.

OPWC took swabs of the infamous doornob (which had only *just* surfaced as a possible ‘hot spot’) and other objects in the S. home.

Telegraph 22 March 2018.

the sample story is more complicated … These samples were sealed and brought to the OPCW laboratory on 23 March 2018. Samples were split in the presence of an expert from the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom was provided with one split of each sample. The environmental samples were then delivered to two designated laboratories, and the biomedical samples were delivered to another two designated laboratories.

Enviro samples (probably showed nothing) get left aside / suppressed in favor of biomedical samples which actually do show xyz or 'some suspicious substance.' Imho.

OPWC 14 April 2018.

later...RT. 20 Aug. 2018. Anton Utkin, a former UN chemical inspector in Iraq, stated: “The UK’s desire is that OPWC confirm the chemical agent, that the UK has already identified. That means that the OPWC specialists will be limited to take only those samples that UK will allow, they will interview only those people that the UK would allow. .. re. all 5 victims.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 1 2019 15:42 utc | 70

Here :

the OPCW says :

"This chemical was reported back to the OPCW by the two designated labs and the findings are duly reflected in the report."

So, if I understand correctly, the OPCW asked two (and only two) laboratories to analyze samples and these laboratories both found BZ. It would have been better for the credibility of the OPCW that at least one laboratory had not found BZ: this would have made it easier to believe that the sample, as originally taken from the Skripal, contained no BZ.

And, by the way, is it really a good practice to falsify the samples that must be analysed ?

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 1 2019 15:54 utc | 71

If the OPCW added BZ to all the samples to be analyzed, it became impossible for the OPCW to know whether the samples, as taken from the Skripal, contained BZ or not. Is it likely that the OPCW acted in this manner ?

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 1 2019 17:25 utc | 72

There's a possibility that the Skripals did escape the poisoned trap set up for them,and that yhey were given some drug that was by hand what would explain the first reponder being the Chief Nurse of the British army.Still then I fail tu understand why thet person was so naively putting herself via her daughter in the spotlight over a year later.

All OPCW involvement is after the facts ,a long time after the facts,and they are just played by the services,who of course have their agents in it.OPCW is a public image operation.

For those who like to review some facts,as well as clever suppositions,there is a good read in an article from february 2019 found on the Sakerblog.

Posted by: willie | Dec 1 2019 17:59 utc | 73

Sorry, I was wrong. In the beginning of the OPCW document, we read : "the Organisation received the results of the sample analysis conducted by four designated laboratories". Thus, it seems that BZ was added only to two of four samples.

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 1 2019 19:27 utc | 74

I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up the Skripal case—the most half assed false flag in history.

Posted by: Kathy W | Dec 1 2019 19:31 utc | 75

It was never especially plausible to believe the Brits inserted some "control" agent into the samples. Obviously the first reason is as others have noted, you have just broken all chain-of-custody and integrity of sample rules, rendering any results highly questionable. But on a more basic level, this is simply not done. The control is sending the samples to three independent labs--THAT is the control. Assuming they all come back with statistically identical findings, you have your answer. The only time you would inject a new agent into a sample might be in a general, quality control testing sample send to one lab, to see if that lab correctly analyzes and reports what you already know to be in your test sample. But you would never do such a thing with an evidentiary sample from a criminal case...that's just absurd.

The fact that the effect on the victims closely fits the detected BZ agent, and doesn't match at all the expected effect of a pure nerve agent (death within a minute or so) just seals the deal. I truly believe the whole operation was an MI6 or military intelligence operation to snag the Skripals before they could re-patriate to Russia, which some genius decided at the last minute (because it was a continually morphing joke from an operational standpoint) to try to use it to preemptively discredit Russia in its challenges to any chemical weapons "attacks" in Syria. And if they could embarrass Russia and ruin the World Cup for them, both politically and financially, more's the better. The latter did not happen, but one could argue that there was considerable success in the former, with it being only now with independent whistleblowers that the alleged attacks in Syria are being seriously questioned.

Posted by: J Swift | Dec 1 2019 20:07 utc | 76


In this business, incapacitation does not mean unconscious. If a target is babbling unable to speak coherently foaming at the mouth, unable to walk, etc, the mere fact this man was able to still flail his arms about certainly does not indicate he had any capacity to carry out a mission or anything else he previously had the will to do. He was indeed incapacitated, at least according to available sources.

Posted by: NJH | Dec 1 2019 20:16 utc | 77

If all reports contain the name of one specific substance, the assumption will automatically be that substance is the operative substance, all other findings will be put into the background or ignored altogether. Loading all samples with the desired substance will automatically accomplish this effect. Seems this is the likely logic being used by the highly likely perpetrators.
Here is me thinking maybe the British have the wrong end of the stick about their bonfire night celebrations, what isn't to like about lofting some toffs?

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 1 2019 20:40 utc | 78

@76 J Swift has it exactly right: the OPCW probably does periodically check its testing labs by sending them pre-made samples, but that would *not* involve tainting real samples from alleged chemical attacks.

I mean, get real: by definition the samples taken from the site of alleged chemical attacks contains an *unknown* substance, so the OPCW would not know if that substance is chemically-reactive to BZ. So they can't just stick a syringe into the vials and inject some BZ into them.

But, equally, they can't put new vials containing BZ into the packages that were sent to the labs. That would mean the OPCW can and does break the seals on those packages. And if they can do that to *add* vials then they can also do that to *substitute* vials.

You go in the field.
You collect samples.
You seal and label those samples.
You then put them into sealed and labelled packages.

If the OPCW adds *anything* to those packages between field sampling and test laboratory then the results of those tests are invalid, and the integrity of the OPCW as an organization is shredded.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 1 2019 21:31 utc | 79

@79 yeah right,
It should be perfectly feasible to come up with a safe system to add testsamples without corrupting the process. The labs cannot know whether a sample set was created on site or in "OPCW Central".

If people at OPCW have bad intent, they can decide upfront to add testsamples and then use their results to manipulate the report. The Swiss lab cannot know which sample they got. How many of the OPCW samples being sent out are testsamples? One in 2 or one in 50?

Also, the chain of custody in the case of the sampling on location(as opposed to drawing blood) is suspect even if adhered to by the OPCW because the UK government had all the time to tamper with the evidence on site.

Posted by: tuyzentfloot | Dec 1 2019 22:10 utc | 80

@80 tuyzentfloot: "It should be perfectly feasible to come up with a safe system to add testsamples without corrupting the process."

To what purpose, exactly?

I can see the necessity to have a safe, secure system to SPLIT the environmental samples so that *some* of the samples go to *this* laboratory, and *some* of the samples go to *that* laboratory.

But that is a matter of ensuring that the field-collected samples are split up WITHOUT ANY TAMPERING being done to those samples.

But once you consider the idea of adding "testsamples" (that is, samples that were not collected by the field inspectors) then, so sorry, by definition the process has been corrupted.

It doesn't matter what the motive is, the reasoning behind it, or the manner in which it is done - what you are saying is that the samples that are received by the test laboratories are Not The Samples That Were Collected In The Field.

Again, I'll ask the question: to what purpose?

It can't be to test that *this* laboratory is lying: the OPCW has the other laboratories testing the samples, so compare and contrast.
It can't be to test that *this* laboratory is incompetent: again, the results from the other laboratories will attest to that incompetence.

Sure, send out dummy samples to the laboratories, and see if they detect the stuff you've stuffed in them.
Sure, do it as often as you like. That makes perfect sense to me.

But don't take **real** samples from a **real** site that is the focus of a **real** international controversy and then decide that, hey, now is a really, really, really good time to play a game of silly-buggers with the Swiss chemists.

When. Did. That. Ever. Get. Smart?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 2 2019 1:18 utc | 81

@Yeah, Right: Exactly. The laboratory can be tested by sending test samples separately. Why would anyone mix a test compound into in a live sample?

Posted by: S | Dec 2 2019 1:54 utc | 82

@82 Not just "separately" but also At Any Time The OPCW Chooses.

So send some "test samples" the day before the field inspectors set off for Salisbury. Just, you know, to check that the Swiss are still as sharp as a tac and deserving of the OPCWs confidence.

Or send some "test samples" the week after the results come back from Switzerland. Just in case the Swiss think they can now kick back and take it easy.

Either makes sense.

But spiking the samples that were collected in Salisbury?

Why? What possible good can come from that?

It is as stupid as it is unnecessary, which is why I don't believe it for a second.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 2 2019 7:19 utc | 83

@yeah rightm, how many questions are you addressing here? The idea of adding testsamples to a batch of samples can be verified. Is it an accepted practice in the OPCW or not. This is not just a matter of the OPCW organisation trusting the results but also of them being able to prove to less discerning members that the results are trustworthy. Technically this is possible to achieve in an airtight manner.
Whether it is a good practice is another matter. It looks silly to me. In reality a normal batch collected on site should already represent an interesting variety. Faking a sample is also not easy if the lab knows what they are testing.
So my question then would be is this an agreed upon modus operandi and how often is it used.
The matter of spiking actual on site test samples on the other hand is highly suspect. Is there any confirmation from the OPCW that this is what they did? Because the procedures are strictly defined and I would want to see the official written procedure for doing that.
So to put things in context, I think MoonofA's new best hypothesis is convincing and it makes the BZ sample the actual representative sample for the site of the crime. It would be good to know if it is a blood sample then.
My argument is only that there is no valid technical argument to say adding testsamples cannot be done safely.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 2 2019 8:38 utc | 84

tuyzentfloot, how many questions are you avoiding here, by deflecting to a question that wasn't asked, whether it could be done "safely"?

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 2 2019 9:13 utc | 85

What the BZ theory misses is that the OPCW itself showed that novichok is not a real nerve agent but a failed attempt at one. The perfume bottle found by the dumpster diver Rowley was said by OPCW to be straight, neat 100% novichok, yet Rowley only became ill when he sprayed it on his wrist, and did not drop dead immediately. If this story is phony then why are the state actors revealing to anybody who reads the report that novichok is (relatively) useless? I'd argue that novichok was chosen by the plotters not only because of its ties to Russia but also because it did not present a threat to the population that a real nerve agent would have done, if something went wrong.

Posted by: ramblingidiot | Dec 2 2019 10:35 utc | 86

@85 pretzelattack, with safely I mean guaranteeing reliability. I thought that was clear from the context.
My point was don't bring in arguments of testsamples making the procedure untrustworthy, because these arguments are wrong. Don't expect me to agree with weak arguments just because they come from 'the right team'.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 2 2019 10:57 utc | 87

Organizations Funded by the NED

The following list shows the more than 1600 NGOs that between 2016 and 2019 have received grants by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The NGOs have been extracted from the official NED grant database and have been grouped by region.

Source: SPR Swiss Propaganda Research

Posted by: Political Atheist | Dec 2 2019 11:11 utc | 88

you again didn't address the main points, the break in the chain of custody of evidence, the damage in terms of legal proof to that evidence, and the sheer stupidity of doing it this way, in order to divert to some minor point that isn't being argued by the poster you replied to.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 2 2019 11:44 utc | 89

@89 pretzelattack: I don't understand what you are making a fuss about. The OPCW can make tamper proof samples. Imagine they get a unique id. these samples don't stay together, they get sent to different labs. Suppose OPCW has a record that id's 1 to 97 are from the skripal case. They add tamper proof items 98 and 99. Or they add 100 ids from another case, it does not matter. The set of 200 ids get distributed randomly to labs , the labs give results for each id. The labs don't have to know to which 'case' each id belongs. OPCW central sorts the results according to case. There is no problem with chain of custody.
The idea of spiking actual samples is too hard to believe, but technically it can be done. Redundant samples are simultaneously collected on site (to make the chemical composition a bit credible) and sealed. OPCW central breaks the seals, spikes them with 'stuff' and creates new tamperproof samples from that with new ids. OPCW logs the samples as invalid and records the history. Then it sends the spiked samples to the labs. The labs don't need to know that the sample is invalid. The results come back and they get properly logged as results from the test ids.

I don't believe the OPCW made testsamples, certainly not spiked them, but technically it can be done.

Posted by: tuyzentfloot | Dec 2 2019 12:28 utc | 90

@84 Tuyzentfloot "The idea of adding testsamples to a batch of samples can be verified. Is it an accepted practice in the OPCW or not."

Oh, pluuuu-eeeeze, obviously I have to spell it out.

Your reason for existing is to test for the presence of prohibited chemical weapons. It is What You Do.

So a core requirement is that you send out field inspectors to take samples, to witness, seal, and sign those samples, and to ensure that WHAT IS COLLECTED IN THE FIELD IS WHAT IS TESTED IN THE LABS.

If you can't ensure that then you have no business being in the business that you are in.

You need to send your samples out to accredited labs so that they can test for prohibited chemical weapons. There is just no getting away from that, you need to use outside test laboratories.

You, of course, need to have faith that those labs are competent to perform that task, so you will "test" their competency by sending them "test samples" that you have made up yourself.

Note that this *isn't* a core requirement of your organization (e.g. the initial certification and continued "testing" of the labs could be outsourced just as easily as the laboratory testing is itself an outsourced resource)

But you make up your "test samples" yourself because, well, why not?
It keeps your boys busy on quiet days, idle hands, etc, etc.

You get the call: there is a suspected use of prohibited chemical weapons, so you suit up yer' boys and ship 'em off to take the samples. Dig, dig, dig, poke, poke, scratch, scratch, and they come back with packet after packet of field samples carefully sealed, sighted, and signed for.

You get a bright idea: let's break open those packages and adding a few "test samples" because, well, because.

Doing so saves on postage which, goodness me, is oh-so-expensive to Switzerland....

I can not be the only person who sees the grievous error in that action.

pretzelattack sees it.
J Swift sees it.
You pretend not to see it.


It doesn't matter how "test samples" are added, nor does it matter one bit why they were added.

Because of this: if anything is added to the packages that were collected in the field before they reach the test labs then that is an admission that **anything** can be added to those packages.

Tuyzentfloot: "The idea of adding testsamples to a batch of samples can be verified."

Irrelevant. The very notion that the OPCW can add to the sealed packages between "field" and "lab" renders those samples suspect.

Tuyzentfloot: "Is it an accepted practice in the OPCW or not."

Straw man. The "testing" of laboratories using "test samples" is a sensible practice when the labs would otherwise be (for want of a better word) idle. Slipping those same "test samples" into field samples from an alleged chemical weapons attack is stupid, stupid, stupid.

Indeed, it is so stupid an idea that I have to ask why we are still discussing this?

Tuyzentfloot: "This is not just a matter of the OPCW organisation trusting the results but also of them being able to prove to less discerning members that the results are trustworthy."

Pure unadulterated gibberish.

The trustworthiness of the results comes from two factors:
1) Ensuring that the samples that were collected in the field ARE the samples that are tested in the lab
2) sending those attested-to field samples to several test laboratories for independent testing and then comparing and contrasting the results from those labs.

Once you add **anything** into the mix you make
1) untrustworthy, and that means that it doesn't matter if all the laboratories in
2) all come back with the same answer.

And you can't see that?

Dare I suggest that is because you refuse to look at this situation with open eyes?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 2 2019 12:58 utc | 91

Yeah Right, you are accusing me of a whole lot of stuff there. Should I think that you are just as sloppy in the rest of your thinking?
Climb down. We only disagree about one thing.
I think the OPCW was lying about the sample probe, I think it would have been a dubious practice but it was credible from a strictly technical point of view. You also claim the OPCW was lying but the lie was not credible at all and in fact it was impossible to believe. Now you've piled on loads of bullshit about me refusing to understand, being disingenious, and me disagreeing about things I don't disagree about.

To make the chain of custody safe you have to work with tamper proof test units and a bookkeeping unit. Imagine that such a tamper proof box can have from one sample to two dozen samples. You don't put everything in the same box. You don't have to keep the boxes sealed together. You don't need a single sealed container where everything stays together till they reach the lab. The boxes will go to different labs. Then I don't see any technical problem with adding a testprobe box. No seals need to be broken. You just 'also send your own box to the lab'. The unit is a box, not the pile of boxes. There is no threat to the chain of custody at all. The claim that the tamper proof test unit has to be the whole sample set is baseless.

The probe box would not have to meet high demands and you can ask anyone to create content for it. It is just a sample the testlab gets and it happens to be from OPCW. nobody is claiming it belongs to the Skripal sample set. You ask another lab to prepare something. You could take the socks of Rupert who needs to change socks more often, put them in a tamper proof box and send them to the lab. Technically I can't object to the procedure. I do think it would be a strange approach and don't see how it would work because when the thing you want to protect against is fraud then the demands on the sample become very high: the sample has to be able to convince the lab with bad intent that they could be real onsite samples . That suddenly makes it a serious and creative enterprise which cannot be captured in bureaucreatic written procedures and which has to remain secret in order to be able to fool the labs.
A sample with Novichok contamination was included. It is not that the labs did not notice that the Novichok was relatively fresh.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 2 2019 15:39 utc | 92

Re. Dawn Sturgess. She died from being 'poisoned' by *exactly the same substance* that affected the Skripals, according to the OPCW, the UK Gvmt, and all other parties.

Sleuths should be on the case? The inquest into her death has now been postponed for the FOURTH time. If that isn’t suspicious. Rob at Blog Mire has the details.

Nobody, outside of close ppl, cares about Dawn because she was an alcoholic living in assisted housing, in a relationship with a convicted drug-seller, Charlie. She deserves justice too, in the form of clarification, though she isn’t interesting or glam like Sergei and Yulia.

(from MSM) Dawn’s life-support was turned off on 8 July. She had a serious heart attack, which is most likely what killed her. When visited by her parents on Sunday, the day after her collapse, she was unconscious, probably brain-dead, and on life support.

Dawn's son Ewan: Recalling the fear when he was first allowed to visit Dawn, Ewan said: “Before we went into the room the doctor pulled us aside and said, ‘It could be pesticides, insecticides or Novichok’. I was shocked.

Whatever the plot was, and/or the role played by OPCW, subverted, manipulated, silenced in part, for sure, it seems to me that all the victims should be examined and discussed. There were 5 (Yulia, Sergei, Nick Bailey, Dawn and Charlie), and most likely a 6th.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 2 2019 15:56 utc | 93

There is an OPCW document about its control practices (Google "Table Top Exercise, Poland 2010" and then ask for the cache) where we read :
“Re-packaging with:
(a) one authentic sample from on-site
(b) one control sample containing Scheduled chemicals
(c) one blank sample containing no Scheduled chemicals”
It seems to me that this contradicts the explanation later given by the OPCW to explain the presence of BZ in the Skripal samples : the "scheduled chemical" was Novichok, not BZ.

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 2 2019 16:00 utc | 94

An especially acute observation by bevin | Nov 30 2019 21:26 utc | 11 :
"Let us not confuse "The British" with an extreme right wing Tory faction, of which Johnson is the public face, which, as reports coming out today remind us, has been enormously financed by Russian kleptocrats."

Posted by: Ts'yew T'aw-Loh | Dec 2 2019 16:07 utc | 95

ramblingidiot @ 86

So what you are suggesting that this was not THE deadly Novichok "one tiny drop immediately fatal" (pace VVP) but Novichok-Lite, only harmful if you sprinkle it on your pizza or use it to get rid of head-lice? Maybe it can actually be used as perfume, with the addition of something smelly.

It is an attractive avenue to explore. Maybe the two Russian fellows were using it for one of the above purposes in the hotel in the East End where they stayed, hence the traces picked up by our Boys in Blue. Maybe it was why the ducks didn't perish on the river, and why our brave Intelligence people had to dismantle poor Mr. Skripral's house, including the roof, before they found so much as sniff.

Posted by: montreal | Dec 2 2019 16:33 utc | 96

montreal @ 96 :

Two scientific studies concluded that Novichok is likely “substantially” less toxic than VX :

Lars Carlsen, “After Salisbury Nerve Agents Revisited”, Molecular Informatics, 25 novembre 2018,

Hanusha Bhakhoa, Lydia Rhyman et Ponnadurai Ramasami, “Theoretical study of the molecular aspect of the suspected novichok agent A234 of the Skripal poisoning”, Royal Society Open Science, vol. 6, n° 2, 6 février 2019,

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 2 2019 16:48 utc | 97

@Inquirer , then they are even using more complicated approaches with nested boxes where items can be replaced. I don't see why that wouldn't work with controlled substitutions and bookkeeping.
Not sure this approach is actually in use. At least it means they considered it and they will resort to very complicated procedures.

Posted by: tuyzentfloot | Dec 2 2019 16:50 utc | 98

Let us imagine that the Skripals, before the intervention of Porton Down/OPCW, had BZ in their blood and no Novichok. Imagine that Porton Down/OPCW adds Novichok to the blood samples and say : "Probably there is BZ in the samples. Well, we can say that it is for control." So they get a report from the laboratory saying that there is Novichok (and BZ) in the samples. They publish the fact that Novichok was found in the samples and when there is a leak about the BZ present in the samples, they can say "The BZ was there for control."
Perhaps one could object : "Then it would be simpler and less dangerous for Porton Down/OPCW to use a blood without BZ, taken from other persons than the Skripals." I confess that I don't know if there is a good answer to this objection.

Posted by: Inquirer | Dec 2 2019 17:41 utc | 99

Inquirer @ 97.

Apologies - I wasn’t being entirely serious. I think it “highly likely” that the whole theatre was a shameful fraud perpetrated on the British people by a small clique of bouffant-haired intelligence men whose main purpose was to save their unworthy skins by getting Skripal out of circulation while the investigation into the Steele dossier goes on. They thought they would share Brannigan’s fate if they didn’t come up with something quick.

Everyone has their POV, that’s mine.

The trouble is, so much of the “official” information is so ludicrous that it is hard not to mob it up.

And I am afraid that the news that Novichok is just a pussy cat, originates, as far as I am concerned, from the same sources that concocted the mad series of fictions that dribbled out bit by bit, often contradicting each other. Nothing personal, you understand.

Posted by: Montreal | Dec 2 2019 17:58 utc | 100

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