Monday 2nd of August 2021



















AMSTERDAM — Investigative site Bellingcat is the toast of the popular press. In the past month alone, it has been described as “an intelligence agency for the people” (ABC Australia), a “transparent” and “innovative” (New Yorker) “independent news collective,” “transforming investigative journalism” (Big Think), and an unequivocal “force for good” (South China Morning Post). Indeed, outside of a few alternative news sites, it is very hard to hear a negative word against Bellingcat, such is the gushing praise for the outlet founded in 2014.



This is troubling, because the evidence compiled in this investigation suggests Bellingcat is far from independent and neutral, as it is funded by Western governments, staffed with former military and state intelligence officers, repeats official narratives against enemy states, and serves as a key part in what could be called a “spook to Bellingcat to corporate media propaganda pipeline,” presenting Western government narratives as independent research.


Citizen journalism staffed with spies and soldiers

An alarming number of Bellingcat’s staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds. Senior Investigator Nick Waters, for example, spent three years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. Shortly after leaving the service, he was hired by Bellingcat to provide supposedly bias-free investigations into the Middle East.

Former contributor Cameron Colquhoun’s past is even more suspect. Colquhoun spent a decade in a senior position in GCHQ (Britain’s version of the NSA), where he ran cyber and Middle Eastern terror operations. The Scot specializes in Middle Eastern security and also holds a qualification from the U.S. State Department. None of this, however, is disclosed by Bellingcat, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world — thus depriving readers of key information they need to make informed judgments on what they are reading.


There are plenty of former American spooks on Bellingcat’s roster as well. Former contributor Chris Biggers, who penned more than 60 articles for the site between 2014 and 2017, previously worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — a combat support unit that works under the Department of Defense and the broader Intelligence Community. Biggers is now the director of an intelligence company headquartered in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington (close to other semi-private contractor groups like Booz Allen Hamilton), that boasts of having retired Army and Air Force generals on its board. Again, none of this is disclosed by Bellingcat, where Biggers’s bio states only that he is a “public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.”

For six years, Dan Kaszeta was a U.S. Secret Service agent specializing in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and for six more he worked as program manager for the White House Military Office. At Bellingcat, he would provide some of the intellectual ammunition for Western accusations about chemical weapons use in Syria and Russia’s alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal.

Kaszeta is also a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank funded by a host of Western governments as well as weapons contractors such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Its president is a British field marshal (the highest attainable military rank) and its senior vice president is retired American General David Petraeus. Its chairman is Lord Hague, the U.K.’s secretary of state between 2010 and 2015.


All of this matters if a group is presenting itself as independent when, in reality, their views align almost perfectly with the governments funding them. But yet again, Bellingcat fails to follow basic journalism ethics and inform readers of these glaring conflict of interests, describing Kaszeta as merely the managing director of a security company and someone with 27 years of experience in security and antiterrorism. This means that unless readers are willing to do a research project they will be none the wiser.

Other Bellingcat contributors have similar pasts. Nour Bakr previously worked for the British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office while Karl Morand proudly served two separate tours in Iraq with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division.

Government and intelligence officials are the opposite of journalists. The former exist to promote the interests of power (often against those of the public) while the latter are supposed to hold the powerful to account on behalf of the people. That is why it is so inappropriate that Bellingcat has had so many former spooks on their books. It could be said that ex-officials who have renounced their past or blown the whistle, such as Daniel Ellsberg or John Kiriakou, have utility as journalists. But those who have simply made the transition into media without any change in positions usually serve only the powerful.


Who pays the piper?

Just as startling as its spooky staff is Bellingcat’s source of funding. In 2016 its founder, Eliot Higgins, dismissed the idea that his organization got money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as a ludicrous conspiracy theory. Yet, by the next year, he openly admitted the thing he had laughed off for so long was, in fact, true (Bellingcat’s latest available financial report confirms that they continue to receive financial assistance from the NED). As many MintPress readers will know, the NED was explicitly set up by the Reagan administration as a front for the CIA’s regime-change operations. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” said the organization’s co-founder Allen Weinstein, proudly.

Higgins himself was a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, NATO’s quasi-official think tank, from 2016 to 2019. The Atlantic Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of state power, from war planners like Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell to retired generals such as James “Mad Dog” Mattis and H.R. McMaster. It also features no fewer than seven former CIA directors. How Higgins could possibly see taking a paid position at an organization like this while he was still the face of a supposedly open and independent intelligence collective as being at all consistent is unclear.


Other questionable sources of income include the Human Rights Foundation, an international organization set up by Venezuelan activist Thor Halvorssen Mendoza. Halvorssen is the son of a former government official accused of being a CIA informant and a gunrunner for the agency’s dirty wars in Central America in the 1980s and the cousin of convicted terrorist Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez in turn was a leader in a U.S.-backed coup in 2002 and a wave of political terror in 2014 that killed at least 43 people and caused an estimated $15 billion worth of property damage. A major figure on the right-wing of Venezuelan politics, Lopez told journalists that he wants the United States to formally rule the country once President Nicolas Maduro is overthrown. With the help of the Spanish government, Lopez escaped from jail and fled to Spain last year.

Imagine, for one second, the opposite scenario: an “independent” Russian investigative website staffed partially with ex-KGB officials, funded by the Kremlin, with most of their research focused on the nefarious deeds of the U.S., U.K. and NATO. Would anyone take it seriously? And yet Bellingcat is consistently presented in corporate media as a liberatory organization; the Information Age’s gift to the people.


The Bellingcat to journalism pipeline

The corporate press itself already has a disturbingly close relationship with the national security state, as does social media. In 2019, a senior Twitter executive was unmasked as an active duty officer in the British Army’s online psychological operations unit. Coming at a time when foreign interference in politics and society was the primary issue in U.S. politics, the story was, astoundingly, almost completely ignored in the mainstream press. Only one U.S. outlet of any note picked it up, and that journalist was forced out of the profession weeks later.

Increasingly, it seems, Bellingcat is serving as a training ground for those looking for a job in the West’s most prestigious media outlets. For instance, former Bellingcat contributor Brenna Smith — who was recently the subject of a media storm after she successfully pressured a number of online payment companies to stop allowing the crowdfunding of the Capitol Building insurrectionists — announced last month she would be leaving USA Today and joining The New York Times. There she will meet up with former Bellingcat senior investigator Christiaan Triebert, who joined the Times’ visual investigations team in 2019.

The Times, commonly thought of as the United States’ most influential media outlet, has also collaborated with Bellingcat writers for individual pieces before. In 2018, it commissioned Giancarlo Fiorella and Aliaume Leroy to publish an op-ed strongly insinuating that the Venezuelan state murdered Oscar Perez. After he stole a military helicopter and used it to bomb government buildings in downtown Caracas while trying to ignite a civil war, Perez became the darling of the Western press, being described as a “patriot” (The Guardian), a “rebel” (Miami Herald), an “action hero” (The Times of London), and a “liberator” (Task and Purpose).

Until 2020, Fiorella ran an opposition blog called “In Venezuela” despite living in Canada. Leroy is now a full-time producer and investigator for the U.K.-government network, the BBC.


Bad news from Bellingcat

What we are uncovering here is a network of military, state, think-tank and media units all working together, of which Bellingcat is a central fixture. This would be bad enough, but much of its own research is extremely poor. It strongly pushed the now increasingly discredited idea of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, attacking the members of the OPCW who came forward to expose the coverup and making some bizarre claims along the way. For years, Higgins and other members of the Bellingcat team also signal-boosted a Twitter account purporting to be an ISIS official, only for an investigation to expose the account as belonging to a young Indian troll in Bangalore. A leaked U.K. Foreign Office document lamented that “Bellingcat was somewhat discredited, both by spreading disinformation itself, and by being willing to produce reports for anyone willing to pay.”


Ultimately, however, the organization still provides utility as an attack dog for the West, publishing research that the media can cite, supposedly as “independent,” rather than rely directly on intelligence officials, whose credibility with the public is automatically far lower.

Oliver Boyd-Barrett, professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University and an expert in the connections between the deep state and the fourth estate, told MintPress that “the role of Bellingcat is to provide spurious legitimacy to U.S./NATO pretexts for war and conflict.” In far more positive words, the CIA actually appears to agree with him.

“I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love [Bellingcat],” said Marc Polymeropoulos, the agency’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia. “Whenever we had to talk to our liaison partners about it, instead of trying to have things cleared or worry about classification issues, you could just reference [Bellingcat’s] work.” Polymeropoulos recently attempted to blame his headache problems on a heretofore unknown Russian microwave weapon, a claim that remarkably became an international scandal. “The greatest value of Bellingcat is that we can then go to the Russians and say ‘there you go’ [when they ask for evidence],” added former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman.

Bellingcat certainly seems to pay particular attention to the crimes of official enemies. As investigative journalist Matt Kennard noted, it has only published five stories on the United Kingdom, 17 on Saudi Arabia, 19 on the U.S. (most of which are about foreign interference in American society or far-right/QAnon cults). Yet it has 144 on Russia and 244 under its Syria tag.

In his new book “We Are Bellingcat: An Intelligence Agency for the People,” the outlet’s boss Higgins writes: “We have no agenda but we do have a credo: evidence exists and falsehoods exist, and people still care about the difference.” Yet exploring the backgrounds of its journalists and its sources of funding quickly reveals this to be a badly spun piece of PR. 

Bellingcat looks far more like a bunch of spooks masquerading as citizen journalists than a people-centered organization taking on power and lies wherever it sees them. Unfortunately, with many of its proteges travelling through the pipeline into influential media outlets, it seems that there might be quite a few masquerading as reporters as well.


Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.



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of conspiracy denialists...

It is 20 years since Jon Ronson wrote Them, his eye-popping investigation into conspiracy theorists. Now, in a world awash with tales of paedophile elites and puppet masters, is he any closer to understanding it all?



Jon Ronson



Sun 11 Apr 2021 17.00 AEST


In 1999 I sat in a Vancouver café with a group of anti-capitalist activists. They’d just returned from protesting the WTO in Seattle to find a new, far stranger foe in town – David Icke. He was there to lecture about how the ruling elite are actually child-sacrificing, blood-drinking paedophile lizards in human disguise.

Nobody had ever suggested such a thing before, and the activists were working to get his books seized and destroyed. They were alarmed not just by the echoes of antisemitism but because something startling was happening. Icke was beginning to win over people who should have been on their side. I wrote back then that they were “seeing an omen of the blackest kind, the future of thought itself: a time when irrational thought would sweep the land”. But this wasn’t prophecy on my part. I thought they were probably being overdramatic.


I spent much of the late 1990s chronicling the embryonic world of Satanic Hollywood lizard paedophile conspiracy theories for my book, Them: Adventures with Extremists, which turns 20 this week. Lately, of course, the theories have proliferated wildly – radicalising unparalleled swathes of YouTubers, inspiring an insurrection and reportedly in the past two years at least one murder and a suicide bombing. I feel lucky to have been there at its inception, but annoyed with myself for not anticipating quite how vast and malevolent things would get. Looking back, were there clues?


It was a tip-off from a militant Islamist that alerted me to that fledgling world. In 1995 the director Saul Dibb and I began filming Omar Bakri Mohammed, who had just announced that he wouldn’t rest until he saw the flag of Islam flying over Downing Street.

“Maybe,” our editor at Channel 4 said, “it’ll be the Islamic fundamentalist version of following around Hitler the watercolourist.”


Omar Bakri’s jihad campaign was indeed so nascent we had to drive him to Office World to get his “Islam the Future for Britain” pamphlets photocopied. His sweet 13-year-old son Mohammed flapped around anxiously, watching the Malcolm X biopic and worrying that his father might one day be assassinated, too.

Fifteen years later, Omar Bakri was imprisoned in Lebanon for supporting terrorism. His anxious teenage son Mohammed grew up, joined Isis, and was murdered by them, reportedly for cursing the Prophet Muhammad. It was heartbreaking. But these days when I recall the “Hitler the watercolourist” comment, I mostly remember a remark made by one of Omar’s circle during our first day’s reporting.


The man was recounting his daydream of releasing a swarm of mice into United Nations headquarters when he suddenly asked if I was aware that the world was being secretly controlled by a network of shadowy cabals from secret rooms. A year later I met a Ku Klux Klansman in Arkansas who was consumed by the same shadowy cabal conspiracy theories, and that’s when it hit me: there was an under-chronicled relationship between 1990s political and religious extremism and conspiratorial thinking. So I started hanging around the conspiracy world.


And, in hindsight, it was all clues. The most popular tables at the gun shows were frequently the ones selling the conspiracy VHS tapes – recordings of very long conversations between unengaging men in public access TV studios. They’d discuss how the Illuminati were the puppet masters behind the deaths at David Koresh’s church in Waco, or how the all-seeing eye on the dollar bill was evidence of the Illuminati’s takeover of the Federal Reserve. They were as dull as anything, but due to their scarcity the VHSs were passed around militia circles like rare jewels, gun-show Rosetta stones.


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Yep, the denialists of conspiracy choose their conspiracies well to illustrate their views, including Jon Ronson, who finishes his article with: "I could describe Kaplan as a player in a conspiracy. But what it really was, I suppose, is business".


This is a cop out of the reality of conspiracy. 


Little Green Men, the Moon Landing and Lizard People are popular to point out the silliness of conspiracies… And I agree. The conspiracies the conspiracy denialists describe and use as subjects of their analysis are often loony, dumbbutt and crazy.


The conspiracies the denialists of conspiracy ignore are those that are organised by governments, such as “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction”. You are entitled to believe that this was no conspiracy but a simple mistake made by the “intelligence agencies” of three countries, USA, UK and Australia — but you would be silly. All up, as mentioned on this site, there were more than 20 US/UK/Australian intelligence agencies on the case, with about 263 spy satellites floating above the earth — and the European (French and German) spy agencies knew this US led adventure was complete rubbish.


Another conspiracy (or explanation) used by the culprits (Bush, Blair and Howard) was that the whole caper had been an "organised deception" by Saddam who did not want Iran to know he had nothing to defend “his” country, Iraq, but some old tanks and leftover guns from the 1980s.


All this is poppycock. The attack on Iraq in 2003 was part of the conspiracy started well before 2000, in the bowels of the Project for a New American Century and continuing presently in Syria, under the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski plan to remodel the Middle-East.


Such conspiracy from governments to deceive their people isn’t new. This is why so many people are questioning the Covid-19 “pandemic” presently. There are many rich players who are linked to make a fortune from the disease and one can ask the question what is their role in coaxing people into believing it — or not...


The 2007-08 subprime Global Financial Crisis was a conspiracy. It was a conspiracy by a few (too many) banksters to defraud the system by selling crap at premium prices to other banksters. 


This demanded a certain willingness by the official rating agencies to turn the other way and not ask questions. Whether the rating agencies where in on the conspiracy is a matter for conjecture, but conspiracy to defraud there was.


Our world economies are still suffering from this conspiracy and people think there could be now a conspiracy to inflict a new world order under The Great Reset. As well some conspiracy theorists think that global warming isn’t happening or is, itself, a conspiracy. I understand why people would think thus, but I know they are wrong.


One of the major conspiracy is religion. Organised religions are conspiratorial in making people believe in things that do not make sense — such as original sin and redemption. We have elaborated on this subject many times on this site.


One of the most insidious present conspiracy is designed to keep Julian Assange in prison. The US, the UK and the Australian governments are together united in a conspiracy to make sure people like Assange are destroyed. His main feat was not so much to expose the misdeeds of the US army in Iraq, but to release documents that showed the conspiratorial duplicity of the US government towards other countries — friendly and otherwise.


Little Green Men are not responsible for the various changes happening on the surface of this little planet. We are responsible for the release of warming gases with consequences attached. The only conspiracies here are that some rich people will exploit the “problem” to get richer, while the plebs, us will carry the can.


Conspiracies exist and they are often hard to source out, because this is the crux of the matter. They are well hidden, well constructed and help governments to achieve their aim. The other little green men conspiracies are distractions away from the real dangerous one, which make countries go to war under false pretences...


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conspiracy about joe...

Was there a conspiracy by the liberal media to hide the bad deeds of Joe Biden before the 2020 US elections? Yes there was.


Why? The liberal media had had enough of Trump and they tried all the tricks in the book to get him out of the presidency, from day one — as all liberal media had supported Hillary Clinton. Did the liberal media hide the mistakes made by Hillary? Yes they did but they could not contain the damage — especially when Comey became unsure of what he should do with contrary information about Hillary. Hillary was a liar and Trump was a fool. Great choice to lead the world!... Thus, in order to get rid of Trump, the liberal media have hidden Joe’s problems, including hiding his present failure at containing a massive migrant invasion from the south. Is there a conspiracy by the liberal media to rubbish Donald Trump some more, to prevent him returning to the presidency in 2024? Sure is.




Joe has Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia. This isn’t going to improve. One day, he won’t be able to follow the script.


Hunter Biden, possibly with the help of "daddy", has been involved in unsavoury stuff... He "owes massive credit card debt after living like a high roller with access to millions of dollars linked to business dealings overseas that proved insufficient to satisfy his ravenous appetite for drugs, prostitutes, and luxury cars, the Daily Mail reported Friday.


Did Joe Biden bully the president of another country (Ukraine) to sack a prosecutor investigating Hunter's dealing in that country? Yes Joe did and admitted to it. 


Was Joe the creator/writer of the “Patriot Act” that spies on EVERY American? Yes he was.


Did Joe Biden support the fabricated Bush war against Saddam in 2003? Yes he did (with 29 other Democrat Senators). 


Were these Democrats duped by the Bush Administration conspiracy? NO! They had to know that this war was a crock as one does not fight a war against an enemy that one does not know the real strength of his (supposed) weapons nor the locations of such (warfare 101).


Was Joe for or against the bombing of Libya? He says he was against it (privately), but THERE IS NOT PROOF of this, as he supported Obama publicly.


Was Joe for “regime change” in Syria. Yes he was.


Has Joe Biden surrounded himself with “hawks” in his administration? Yes he has.


no-one paid attention to her accusations...


Does Joe want to get rid of Assange? For Joe, Assange can rot in hell for another 175 years...


Joe is not to be trusted. 



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for a plodding west, putin is too successful ...


Bogeyman Russia – how honestly are we being informed?


by Karl-Jürgen Müller



For some time now and with increasing vehemence – by now almost daily – the reader, listener or viewer of Western or NATO-oriented media products – also in Switzerland – has been presented with an image of Russia that massively attacks the entire domestic and foreign policy of the country and only portrays it in a negative light. And when the headline of an interview with the US-American historian Anne Applebaum, published by t-online on 10 March 2021, reads: “Historian in interview: ‘Germans have no idea how dangerous Putin is’”, then this illustrates – surely unintentionally – the truth about this whole media propaganda: it was, is and remains untrustworthy. But it is very much the background music to a policy aiming at demarcation and confrontation rather than understanding and cooperation.



What does freedom of press mean?


“Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films” are valuable assets and basic rights. “There shall be no censorship”, states the same article of the German Basic Law. The wording of all Western constitutions is similar. The historical, political and ethical context of such formulations is less frequently spoken of – even less so the duties and responsibilities associated with such rights.
  An example illustrating this: On 8 March, a major Swiss daily newspaper published a detailed article about the head of the Russia department of the internet platform Bellingcat. The title of the article is a quote from this person: “We are war reporters in a hybrid conflict”. And the subtitle adds ominously: “The director of the Bellingcat research group has exposed the Kremlin – even in Vienna he does not feel safe”. The article pays great tribute to the work of this director, and his assessments of Russia – see box – are adopted unquestioningly. The reader learns very little about Bellingcat itself, only that it is supposed to be an “investigative platform”.
  Another information about Bellingcat can be found in the German Nachdenkseiten. On 2 March 2021 – i. e. before the 8 March article in the Swiss daily – under the headline “When Western quality journalism, propaganda and info war against Russia go hand in hand”  it read: A media network that – at least until 2018, which is the year of the leaked information available – had set itself the goal of “regime change” in Russia. It included “the companies Zinc Network, Institute for Statecraft, Aktis Strategy, DFR Lab, the Media Diversity Institute, Toro Risk Solutions and Ecorys. They are all companies that specialise in waging the information war against Russia and are run or funded by former high-ranking employees of the British services, the military and NATO. - or, as in the case of the ‘research network’ Bellingcat [!], are financed by them.”
  What is Joe Citizen to make of this?1 At the very least, one wonders why there was no mention of it in the major Swiss daily newspaper. And one also wonders: does this non-mention really match to what the mothers and fathers of press freedom had in mind?



“Audiatur et altera pars” …


Another foundation of good media work and probably also of freedom of press is the sentence: “audiatur et altera pars” – listen to the other side. This is particularly important for media with many readers, listeners or viewers, especially when the “other side” is hardly heard in the published opinion of a country. In order to form an opinion, the citizen must be able to study as many points of view as possible and not – as is widely the case – to be fobbed off with a few fragments of the “other side”. Regarding Russia, it is noticeable that the official representatives of the country no longer have their say in our media. Is that because they do not take a stand? No, there are numerous statements on Russian websites – but who takes the trouble to look there?

… because for a war most people pay a terribly high price

One such official Russian website is that of the Russian embassies in every country, including Switzerland. Only a few days ago, it came to the author of these lines to look there as well. And what he found was numerous corrections to Swiss media products, which, however, were not to be read in these media themselves. Corrected were articles from the Tages-Anzeiger, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Weltwoche, Finanz und Wirtschaft. It is likely that the Russian embassy does not have the resources to comment daily on everything negative that can be read, heard or seen about Russia. Nevertheless, in the spirit of “audiatur et altera pars”, we recommend that you look at the website of the Embassy of Russia in Bern. The internet address for the press releases is:


  The author of these lines hopes that this will help questioning a little more the claims in the “bogeyman Russia” and thus also the war preparations in our countries which are getting more and more obvious. Preparations for war, which – as always in history – are justified with an enemy stereotype, but actually touch on very tangible interests – as always in history about maintaining or gaining power. Most people have nothing to gain from this. They would also have to pay a terribly high price for the next war.  •

Note:1 Unfortunately, the author did not succeed in getting a clear picture of what Bellingcat really is. Entering the term in Google, for example, first results in nothing but positive portrayals – Bellingcat itself and Wikipedia are at the top, followed by numerous Western-oriented media – and, only after a longer search, a few critical voices. The German Wikipedia page, for example, does not mention the criticism of Bellingcat at all. But there you can find the following interesting passage: “In December 2020, the former CIA deputy director of operations for Europe and Eurasia, Marc Polymeropoulos, praised Bellingcat’s work in an article in Foreign Policy: ‘I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love that, instead of trying to get things clarified or worrying about classification issues, you can just refer to their work.’” Somewhat more detailed than the German-language Wikipedia is the English-language entry. Here one learns, for example, that Bellingcat is also funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Open Society Foundation, among others.


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Read from top. Bellingcat is a disinformation channel from and for the Western governments (USA, UK, mostly). The EU should throw the US, the UK and their disinformation belling-channel out the window into the sewers where they belong...




bird brains loiseau...


EU Parliament session gets chaotic as MEP accused of 'fake news' for daring to question OPCW on whistleblower scandal (VIDEO)


Despite whistleblower leaks casting doubts on the OPCW’s findings, the EU Parliament is determined to enforce the organization’s anti-Assad line on Syria. MEP Mick Wallace was accused of spreading “fake news” when he spoke out.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has taken an intense interest in Syria’s civil war, and has accused President Bashar Assad of deploying chemical weapons against his own people on several occasions. Its conclusions have twice been used to justify US military action against Syria, and a new OPCW report on Monday found “reasonable grounds” to suspect that a Syrian Army helicopter dropped chemical weapons on the town of Saraqib in 2018.

The OPCW’s reports are good news for Western interventionists, but the organization is not without its critics. 

Mick Wallace, an Irish MEP, is among them. When OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias addressed the European Parliament Subcommittee of Security and Defence on Thursday, Wallace accused the OPCW of squashing evidence that Assad may not have been behind one particularly heinous 2018 attack in Douma, near Damascus.

“Why will you not heed calls from renowned international meet with all the investigators?” Wallace asked Arias. “This problem is not going away. Are you going to investigate all aspects in a transparent manner?"

He is far from a lone crank. Whistleblower testimony and internal documents suggest that the OPCW suppressed “key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies” relating to the Douma attack, in order to “favor a preordained conclusion,” in the words of one panel of skeptics. A scientific paper challenging the OPCW’s conclusion was shelved following an outcry from Bellingcat, and one director within the OPCW worried that were the truth to get out, it could aid Russia, an ally of Assad. Furthermore, while multiple whistleblowers have come forward to dispute the OPCW’s findings, more have been “frightened into silence,” one claimed last year.

Wallace also accused Arias of ignoring a “false leak,” made to the BBC and the NATO-affiliated Bellingcat, which he claimed was used to discredit former OPCW Director-General José Bustani, who disagrees with Arias’ blaming of Assad for the Douma attack.


Yet before Arias could respond, subcommittee chairwoman Nathalie Loiseau stepped in to do his job for him. Loiseau apologized to Arias for Wallace’s tough questioning, and accused the Ireland South MEP of peddling “fake news.” 

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” she scolded Wallace.

“Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more,” Wallace shot back, “today you’re denying me my opinion!”

Wallace’s microphone was then cut, and Arias allowed to speak. However, the OPCW chief did not directly address his questions. Instead he thanked the other MEPs present for their “words of support,” and reiterated his claims that Assad’s government is responsible for “a humanitarian catastrophe of massive proportions.” 

Though Loiseau apparently wanted to shield Arias from Wallace’s uncomfortable questions, skepticism within the OPCW goes all the way to the top. Former Director-General Bustani has accused the organization of “potentially fraudulent conduct in the investigative process,” a position that saw him banned from addressing the UN Security Council on the issue last year.

The whistleblower scandal has been mostly ignored by the mainstream media, with only a handful of alternative outlets picking up the story.

From Loiseau’s position though, dissent within the parliament is undesirable ahead of the OPCW’s ‘Conference of the States Parties’ in The Hague next week. Ahead of Wallace’s questioning, Loiseau reminded MEPs that a vote will likely be taken at the conference to suspend Syria’s voting rights within the organization, likely accompanied by other “punitive measures.” 


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