Spinwatch can reveal that the Skripal affair has resulted in the issuing of not one but two ‘D-Notices’ to the British media, which are marked private and confidential. We can also disclose the contents of both notices, which have been obtained from a reliable source.
That two notices were issued has been confirmed by the ‘D-Notice’ Committee. The Committee, which is jointly staffed by government officials and mainstream media representatives has recently changed its name to the ‘Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee’. The use of the word ‘advisory’ is no doubt a bid to discourage the public from thinking that this is a censorship committee. However, the DSMA-Notices (as they are now officially called) are one of the miracles of British state censorship. They are a mechanism whereby the British state simply ‘advises’ the mainstream media what not to publish, in ‘notices’ with no legal force. The media then voluntarily comply.
When a former Russian spy and his daughter were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury, it wasn’t long before investigators started looking at the Kremlin with suspicion.
The pair were identified as Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The British government said they had been poisoned with a military grade nerve agent called Novichok, originally developed in Russia.
Over the following weeks, as the victims remained in hospital, Britain’s relationship with Russia began to fall apart. Diplomats from both countries have now been expelled and all planned high-level contact is suspended.
The stakes could not be higher. With Russia denying any involvement in the attack, the stability of global politics hangs in the balance.
But how strong is the UK’s evidence against Russia? And what do the experts think?
In view of the seriousness of the rapidly worsening relations between the West and Russia, and the quickly evolving military events in the Middle East, especially Syria, we have taken the step to publish relevant evidence-based analysis with respect to the Skripal incident of 4 March 2018. This update to our earlier briefing note covers new material that has become available. We welcome comments and corrections which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or provided in the Comments section below.
A tent is secured over the bench in Salisbury where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found critically ill. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA
The international chemical weapons watchdog has backed the UK’s findings on the identity of the chemical used to poison the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
The findings by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be a major relief to the UK, which has said novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia, was used in the attack.
The executive summary released by the OPCW does not mention novichok by name, but states: “The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirms the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.”
‘We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions’
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Accusations and recriminations between Britain and Russia are set to escalate with the news that scientists at the Porton Down military research facility have been unable to establish exactly where the novichok nerve agent used to carry out the Skripal attack was manufactured.
The admission comes the day before Moscow convenes an emergency meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague in which it is expected to demand access to samples from the Salisbury poisoning for analysis by Russian scientists.
London (CNN)The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed the UK’s findings that Novichok was used to target the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.
While the statement from the OPCW does not specifically name Novichok, it says technical experts “confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.”
The UK government says its scientists have identified the agent as a military-grade Novichok nerve agent.
The Bell was able to find and speak with Vladimir Uglev, one of the scientists who was involved in developing the nerve agent referred to as “Novichok”. According to British authorities, a nerve agent from the “Novichok” series was used to poison former Rusian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Vladimir Uglev, formerly a scientist with Volsk branch of GOSNIIOKHT (“State Scientific-Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology”), which developed and tested production of new lethal substances since 1972, spoke for the first time about his work as early as the 1990s. He left the institute in 1994 and is now retired.
The attack on former spy Sergei Skripal thrust the nerve agent Novichok into the spotlight. For many, it was the first time they had heard of the poison, but it has long been a bone of contention between Moscow and the West.
No problem, says Andrew Weber, I can show you the pictures. The weapons expert, formerly a high-ranking official in the U.S. Defense Department, is sitting in a Berlin hotel. He swipes through his smartphone and quickly finds the photos.
One image depicts a reactor constructed of metal, inside of which the deadly chemical agent was produced. Another shows devices lined up in the basement that look not unlike gas masks designed for dogs. Still another is of an elongated, four-story complex that is light beige in color. The area around the structure is undeveloped and there is trash and scrap metal strewn on the ground.
The British government claims that ‘Novichok’ poisons, developed 30 years ago in the Soviet Union, affected a British double agent. But such substances may not exist at all. The British government further says that the Russian government is responsible for the incident and has announced penalties against the country.
A comparable incidents happened in 2001 in the United States. Envelopes with Anthrax spores were sent to various politicians. Some people died. The White House told the FBI to blame al-Qaeda but the Anthrax turned out to be from a U.S. chemical-biological weapon laboratory. The case is still unsolved.
Gary Aitkenhead is the Head of the Military Laboratory for Science and Technology of Porton Down (United Kingdom). On 3 April 2018, he declared speaking for himself and on behalf of his colleagues, that his services identified that the substance used on Sergei and Yulia Skripal was an agent belonging to the Novichok programme but made it clear that they had never determined where it was made.
He declared in an exclusive interview given to Sky News on 3 April 2018:
“We were able to identify this substance as a Novichok and to establish that it is an nerve-poisoning agent of military grade (…) We were not been able to establish the exact source but we provided scientific reports to the government which led it to other sources before reaching the conclusions that it has today”.
The following briefing note is developed from ongoing research and investigation into the use of chemical and biological weapons during the 2011-present war in Syria conducted by members of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda. The note reflects work in progress. However, the substantive questions raised need answering, especially given the seriousness of the political crisis that is now developing. We welcome comments and corrections.
MOSCOW/AMSTERDAM – The British government says Russia is to blame for poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent, and most chemical weapons specialists agree.
But they also say an alternative explanation cannot be ruled out: that the nerve agent got into the hands of people not acting for the Russian state.
The Soviet Union’s chemical weapons program was in such disarray in the aftermath of the Cold War that some toxic substances and know-how could have gotten into the hands of criminals, say people who dealt with the program at the time.
While nerve agents degrade over time, if the precursor ingredients for the nerve agent were smuggled out back then, stored in proper conditions and mixed recently, they could still be deadly in a small-scale attack.
The United States and Uzbekistan have quietly negotiated and are expected to sign a bilateral agreement today to provide American aid in dismantling and decontaminating one of the former Soviet Union’s largest chemical weapons testing facilities, according to Defense Department and Uzbek officials.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon informed Congress that it intends to spend up to $6 million under its Cooperative Threat Reduction program to demilitarize the so-called Chemical Research Institute, in Nukus, Uzbekistan. Soviet defectors and American officials say the Nukus plant was the major research and testing site for a new class of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons called ”Novichok,” which in Russian means ”new guy.”
One of the more insidious aspects of Israel’s military dictatorship in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is its blanket monitoring of Palestinian social networks and other forms of communication via the internet. This often leads to arrests being made. A recent report by 7amleh, the Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement, names 21 Palestinians who have been imprisoned or detained by Israel for their posts on Facebook.
An ongoing narrative popular among Israeli propagandists in the past few years blames the nebulous concept of “incitement” for the phenomenon of Palestinians fighting back against Israel’s brutal occupation forces. A Mossad proxy organisation misleadingly known as the “Israel Law Centre” (aka Shurat HaDin) has even launched lawsuits against Facebook for supposedly facilitating terrorism. A US federal court threw the billion-dollar case out in May.
Last year, Israel’s anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) minister Gilad Erdan claimed that Israeli blood was “on the hands of Facebook” and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Shurat HaDin even organised a campaign to raise money for a billboard that would have been erected outside Zuckerberg’s home.
Predictive Policing: “Falsches” Facebook-Posting führt in Israel oft zu Haft
Palästinensische Aktivisten haben rund 800 Fälle dokumentiert, in denen junge Leute in Israel wegen Facebook-Äußerungen festgenommen wurden. Auf der Konferenz von Netzpolitik.org ertönte der Ruf nach einer “Gemeinwohlförderung” von Algorithmen.
Marwa Fatafta vom Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7amleh hat am Freitag auf der vierten Konferenz von Netzpolitik.org in Berlin ein düsteres Bild von “Predictive Policing” in Israel gezeichnet. Seit Oktober 2015 habe die palästinensische Organisation rund 800 Fälle dokumentiert, in denen junge Leute wegen Facebook-Postings verhaftet worden seien, erklärte die Aktivistin. Die Betroffenen verschwänden oft einfach einige Monate im Gefängnis, ohne dass ihnen ein ordentlicher Prozess gemacht werde.
Israeli officials are drafting legislation to force social media networks to ‘rein in’ racially-charged content, raising legal and ethical issues
Israel and Facebook will begin working together to tackle posts on the social media platform that incite violence, a senior Israeli cabinet minister has said.
A spate of high-profile new attacks on Israelis in the past 12 months have been incited by inflammatory posts on Facebook, the government argues, which is why legislation to compel the company to delete posts that encourage violent behaviour is on the books.
Representatives from Facebook met with government ministers last week, including interior minister Gilad Erdan and justice minister Ayelet Shaked, who have repeatedly called on the company to do more to monitor and control content.
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There are many ups and downs about improvements in technology. We have, undoubtedly, become more enamoured with its ability to make our lives easier, and more informed in ways we never thought possible. Everything has been digitized, and there are so many forms of communication, it’s no wonder the home telephone has collected dust.
People have come to see multi-tasking as a virtue, and so have required companies to make communication easier and faster. Facebook Messenger, for instance, has become a powerful tool for people to connect with each other. It was discovered back in April that 900 million people use Messenger every month, and millions of them are chatting with strangers, friends, family, and getting in touch with businesses. Essentially, information, valuable and personal, is being shared.
Special Report: “Secret” documents from the Reagan administration show how the U.S. embedded “political action,” i.e., the manipulation of foreign governments, in ostensibly well-meaning organizations, reports Robert Parry.
“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.
Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)
The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.
Even for students of the history of the Intelligence Community (IC), Robert Blum is all but forgotten except as a bureaucrat, a professor, and the head of a philanthropic foundation with ties to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In reality, he was a counterintelligence chief who worked for several agencies, built large pieces of the United States’ foreign economic policies, had the Director of Central Intelligence fired, and redesigned a significant portion of the IC, including its mechanisms for covert action and propaganda.
The history of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—its coups, assassinations, “extraordinary rendition” kidnappings, use of torture, “black sites,” drone executions, dirty wars and sponsorship of dictatorial regimes —not only underscores the bloody and reactionary role of American imperialism, but most especially the ruling elite’s mortal fear of the working class internationally.
From its founding in 1947, the agency recognized that global hegemony could not be achieved and sustained by brute repression alone. Accelerating anticolonial struggles, revolutionary struggles in Greece and across Europe, mass struggles and strikes across the world (not the least of which was the great strike wave of 1945-46 in the US ) were all deeply influenced by socialist views. Despite the collaboration of the Stalinist regime in the USSR in disarming these movements and assisting in reestablishing the authority of capitalist governments, the American bourgeoisie was well aware that the fate of its system hung in the balance.