Debunking the story about Russia’s hit on Sergei Skripal

Summary: We can learn much about America by watching the Deep State and their journalist lackeys manufacture and defend propaganda. The hit of Sergei Skripal in England has set the machine in motion. We love these stories with their simple plots and cartoon-like characters. Watch the fierce attacks on those who look behind the curtain and tell us the rest of the story.

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about starting the Cold War. Truman did so in his famous speech on 12 March 1947. From Put yourself in Marshall’s place by James Warburg (he helped develop the US WWII propaganda programs).

Ministry of Propaganda

On 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, visiting him from Moscow, were poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, England (see Wikipedia). In the 1990s, Skripal was an officer for Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) – and a double-agent for the Brits. This hit sparked a major diplomatic incident. Of course, Russia was blamed.

Former British diplomat Craig Murray has reviewed the evidence. Like so many of the stories that helped start the Cold War, and are now starting Cold War 2, journalists sold it to us as definitive – and it breaks down under examination.

Murray’s first article at his website about the hit shredded much of the “Russia did it” story, showing that the narrative rested on air. Excerpts posted with his permission.

The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam.”

“…As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown. …

“Yet now, the British Government is claiming to be able instantly to identify a substance which its only biological weapons research centre has never seen before and was unsure of its existence. Worse, it claims to be able not only to identify it, but to pinpoint its origin. Given Dr Black’s publication, it is plain that claim cannot be true. …

“Russa has – unreported by the corporate media – entered a demand at the OPCW that Britain submit a sample of the Salisbury material for international analysis. Yet Britain refuses to submit it to the OPCW {Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons}. Why? {Update from ABC: Friday evening the British government said that they have asked OPCW to send officials to Britain to examine a sample}  …

“‘Novichoks’ were specifically designed to be able to be manufactured from common ingredients on any scientific bench. The Americans dismantled and studied the facility that allegedly developed them. It is completely untrue only the Russians could make them …The ‘Novichok’ programme was in Uzbekistan not in Russia. Its legacy was inherited by the Americans during their alliance with Karimov, not by the Russians.”

His follow-up is interesting, but for different reasons.

Bothered By Midgies.

“In 13 years of running my blog I have never been exposed to such a tirade of abuse as I have for refusing to accept without evidence that Russia is the only possible culprit for the Salisbury attack. The abuse has mostly been on twitter, and much of the most venomous stuff has come from corporate and state media ‘journalists’. I suppose I am a standing rebuke to them for merely being stenographers to power and never doing any actual research, but that hardly explains the visceral levels of hatred exhibited.

“Today they are all terrifically happy and sharing amongst themselves a lengthy twitter thread by a Blairite and chemist called Clyde Davis in which they all say I am ‘owned’ and my article disproven. There are two remarkable things about this thread.

“The first remarkable thing is the remarkably high percentage of those who are sharing it with commendations who are mainstream media journalists. Last I saw was George Monbiot five minutes ago, but there are dozens. I suppose it is important to them as validating their decision to support uncritically the government line without doing any actual journalism. …”

Davis makes many claims, backed by diagrams from Wikipedia. His is a style of argument common in politics (often seen in comments on the FM site, in debates about the Iraq War in 2005 and in recent years about climate change): big statements, claims of authority, lots of abuse (such as this “You wouldn’t recognise a mass spectrometer if it hit you smack in your stupid gob.”)

Murray explains that some of Davis’ claims are irrelevant: “that chemists are able to identify whether or not a substance is one of the “novichok” compounds.”

Some are wrong, such as this: “*All* molecules with the same formula have *exactly* the same properties and will exhibit the same characteristics as any other.” Nod Bruce explains why.

“Mass spectrometry identifies the masses of substances and can perhaps identify a formula, but not a structure. It is the structure, not the formula which defines the properties of a substance. Spectrometry can say “100% Carbon” but cannot identify whether it is amorphous (charcoal / soot), graphite (lubricant) or diamond (not soot or lubricant!). A prion has exactly the formula of a normal protein – it will look identical to spectrometric / spectroscopic analysis – but one is essential to life the other lethal.”

Murray nails Davis down on key points, such as this…

“And how does the mass spectrometer tell you the sample was made in Russia if you don’t have an example of a Russian made one to compare? I shall listen to your reply with genuine interest, despite your completely unprovoked aggression.”

Davis replies “So now you’re going to lecture me on chemistry?” Eventually Davis admits the obvious: “No it can’t be proven beyond doubt purely on Chemistry …”

This “debate” is typical in another way. “The second remarkable thing is that the thread they are all sharing misses out almost all my side of the conversation.” This kind of selective engagement is familiar to anyone who engages in political debate

Why are journalists so excited?

“Davies, by claiming credentials as a chemist, conforms to the corporate media urge for an appeal to authority. He validates the government line and he is a chemist. He can throw in the names of chemicals and molecular diagrams. That kind of thing impresses journalists. That he explicitly admits the chemistry cannot prove Russia did it, is apparently irrelevant.

“Davies thus provides a smokescreen of respectability by which they can continue to advance their careers by cutting and pasting the government line without question.”

The bottom line should be obvious to anyone who has read The Big List of Lies by our Leaders (all of whom required cooperation of journalists for their success).

“Do remember you are there to fuddle him.  From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!
— Advice from Screwtape to his nephew, from The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (1942).

A note from Britain

Britain still has distinct political parties – unlike America, where our Bobbsey Twins parties via with each to kiss the boots of the Deep State. As seen in this statement by Seumas Milne, communications director of Britain’s Labour Party.

“I think obviously the government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don’t; however, also there’s a history in relation to WMD and intelligence which is problematic to put it mildly. …If you remember back to the WMD saga, there was both what was actually produced by the intelligence services, which in the end we had access to, and then there was how that was used in the public domain in politics. So there is a history of problems in relation to interpreting that evidence … Clearly this issue has to be followed on the basis of the evidence.”

A note from the doctor

Letter to the Editor in The Times, 16 March 2018.

“Sir, Further to your report (“Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.”

By Stephen Davies, Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.

The Times reported this in an article on the same day.

Conclusions

What do we know? Two people are dead by chemical assassination. Since most (all?) major nations have used assassination and have the capability to have committed this crime, we must rely on motives to finger the guilty. Since we do not know the details of secrets involved, that cannot be done. Until we get more information, the logical conclusions from Craig Murray’s analysis is that we do not know much

The useful lesson from the material here is that no matter how often our leaders lie to us – and during the Cold War they have lied a lot – many in America and Britain still automatically believe them. We are gullible sheep, a gift to our ruling elites.

Craig Murray

About the author

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He joined the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1984. His career culminated as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan 2002 to 2004. It ended when he criticized regime as repressive and using torture (both the American and British governments freaked out). Afterwards he was Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

In 2016 the US government refused to allow him entry to the US.

See his bio. See his Wikipedia entry –he has led an extraordinary life. See his articles at his website.

For More Information

The big picture about US – Russia relations: We ended the Cold War by lying to Russia. They remember, even if we don’t.

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Russiaabout RussiaGate, about propaganda, and especially these…

  1. Exposing the farcical claims about Russian hacking of the election.
  2. Debunking the Reality Winner leak about Russia hacking the election.
  3. The verdict on the stories of Russian hacking in the 2016 election.
  4. The WaPo strikes another blow for the Deep State against Russia.
  5. The bottom line about RussiaGate: no explanation makes sense.
  6. A review of Russiagate, its propaganda and hysteria.
  7. Secrets untold about the DNC hack, the core of RussiaGate.
  8. The Russian cyberattack on the world that wasn’t (again).
  9. Debunking RussiaGate, attempts to stop the new Cold War.

Two new books about the new Cold War.

Return to Cold War by Robert Legvold and Who Lost Russia?: How the World Entered a New Cold War by Peter Conradi. See Tony Wood’s review of these new books in the London Review of Books.

Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game
Available at Amazon.

Craig Murray’s book about a real spy.

Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game.

From the publisher…

“This is an astonishing true tale of espionage, journeys in disguise, secret messages, double agents, assassinations and sexual intrigue. Alexander Burnes was one of the most accomplished spies Britain ever produced and the main antagonist of the Great Game as Britain strove with Russia for control of Central Asia and the routes to the Raj. There are many lessons for the present day in this tale of the folly of invading Afghanistan and Anglo-Russian tensions in the Caucasus. Murray’s meticulous study has unearthed original manuscripts from Montrose to Mumbai to put together a detailed study of how British secret agents operated in India.”

73 thoughts on “Debunking the story about Russia’s hit on Sergei Skripal

  1. “I don’t know why everyone’s so hard on Putin these days. I mean, the Russian president is so kind and considerate that he waited until ex-spy Sergei Skripal had been strategically irrelevant for many years before poisoning him, and did so in a way that both failed to kill the target and strongly indicated that Russia was responsible for the attack.

    “While other nations use highly trained killers to assassinate critical targets and make it look like a suicide, the Kremlin had the decency to use an attack that was simultaneously both ineffectual and the forensic equivalent of issuing a press release on RT saying ‘Yeah we totally poisoned that guy’ for no conceivable benefit to itself.”

    — Caitlin Johnstone at Medium.

  2. A correction

    I mentioned in this thread that some commenters are cosplaying Sherlock Holmes. That is incorrect.

    Sherlock Holmes investigated crime scenes, using his fantastic powers of observation and deduction to draw conclusions.

    His smarter older brother was able to solve crimes by reading the newspapers. They are cosplaying Mycroft Holmes.

    1. In an amazingly low signal to noise thread (alas, and external interference is to blame), we have:

      LK: His smarter older brother was able to solve crimes by reading the newspapers. They are cosplaying Mycroft Holmes.

      That is art, dear sir. I hope people appreciate the brilliance.

    2. Bill,

      “I hope people appreciate the brilliance.”

      That’s one perspective. Another is that the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem did its work too well.

    3. LOL talking about your observation. Needed a line break. Would be fun to have a thread on the limits of comment section limitations. Why do we come to websites to talk? Thank you for your forum and measured consideration.

  3. Another perspective on this story, from Chris Murray:

    “Comrade Putin, we have successfully stockpiled novichoks in secret for ten years, and kept them hidden from the OPCW inspectors. We have trained our agents in secret novichok assassination techniques. The programme cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Now we are ready. The first time we use it we will expose our secret and suffer massive international blowback. So who should be our first target? The head of a foreign intelligence agency? A leading jihadist rebel in Syria? A key nuclear scientist? Even a Head of State?”

    “No, Tovarich. There is this old retired guy I know living in Salisbury. We released him from jail years ago.”

  4. The comments here mirror exactly what Craig Murray experienced.

    (1) Lots of rants, mostly irrelevant to Murray’s article.

    (2) Disregard for the specific points he raised.

    (3) Amnesia about the long history of western government officials lying about such matters (See The Big List of Lies by our Leaders).

    (4) Lots of comments about the critics of the narrative, how they’re disqualified by their past political activity. The lies of our Cold Warriors are just and proper, and should be forgotten.

    We are a gift to our leaders. So gullible, so easily lead. Like sheep.

    1. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.

      No, there is a view, particularly on the left, and exemplfied by the UK voices who claim to be skeptical about Russian state involvement, that accepts any criticism or paranoia about our institutions and our leaders, but is totally credulous about the good intentions and victimhood of Russia, the Soviet Union or the other objects of affection. I don’t accept this view, and find the approach ignorant and contemptible.

      I do not think the British intelligence services have made up their findings or exaggerated them. I do not think that we have in Theresa May the sort of opportunistic ethically challenged lot that we had with Blair and Campbell.

      I also think the public hearings on the Iraq WMD scandal put paid to that sort of thing in Britain for our lifetime.

      On the basis of the publicly available information, there is a pattern of outright assassinations and suspicious deaths of Russians in the UK. The Litivinenko killing must have been state sanctioned, the evidence is overwhelming.

      In the present case, I accept the finding of what the poison was, and also the testimony of experts that it is hard to manufacture and has limited shelf life. I think that the idea that Western intelligence services either invented this, or did it themselves, is incredible. There is no evidence beyond conspiracy theories.

      I also have confidence in the integrity of Theresa May. If the question is who we trust, Putin and Lavrov or May, there is no question. Its May.

      Our culture and institutions have grave defects. But they are not the genocidal gangster regime that is the former Soviet regime, and the successor government of the rump of the empire.

      Third attempt at a reply. Don’t know what happened to the others.

    2. I’ll be honest, in absence of solid evidence that the Russians didn’t do it, I’d assume then did.

      But here are some issues to myself on that. I’m failing to see a motive for the Russias other than revenge against a double agent.

      On the “UK/US/other” did this I also fail to see a good motive. Which is why I’m soft on positive on the idea the Russian’s did it.

      As to the comment about the chemistry. Yeah that is an issues, if I give you C6H12O6 there are atleast 3 molecules it could be – Glucose, Fructose and Galactose. All of them are a 6 carbon sugar ring, it is however how they shape off that. And I think they all have the same OH and H bonds in them (along with Carbon bonds) so spectrosepy won’t help

      They should be looking at the effects be able to get the broad family of poision – Arsnic for instance looks different than botulism. But telling exactly which one would be harder – at a glance, one heavy metal is about the same as another which is why it is heavy metal poisoning and only after testing lead, gold, etc.

      Absent more info

      Anyhow I guess I can see that it could be the Russians, although I’m not sure they have much to gain, or it could be the UK or US aiming to either distract or unify. Heck even Trump said “it would take something big” Heck, I’d even read teh suggestion that it was a form of “spy trading” that is we let them kill one, and they let us kill one (Snowden in Moscow?). If this is the case, then both sides gain from a bit of cold war take 2.

      I think it was Disraeli, but it coudl have been Goldstone who were both PM to Queen Victoria. the exchange went something like this

      QV:Tell me PM, who are our international friends
      PM(D orG): Your majesty, we have no international friends. We just have relations who currently have the same objectives we do. Later we will have opposing objectives.

      I think our relationship with Russia – or certian members of the Russian Swamp with our Swamp could see now as a time to be working together.
      Ok, so now I’ve outlined 3 different groups with motives and I’m no closer at the end than the begining.

      *
      1. Russias as revenge against double agent
      2. UK/US as means of wagging the dog
      3. RSwamp+USwamp as means to restart CW2.
      Heck I’m not even sure these are all possible ones or that they are exclusive of each other.

    3. ACT,

      (1) “in absence of solid evidence that the Russians didn’t do it, I’d assume then did.”

      Who cares what you think? Putin? Trump? Congress? Why do you care?

      That’s not the subject of this post. Our ingrained gullibility is shown by the inability of commenters here to see the point of this post — which concerns our inability to clearly see the world. Murray shows that the case Britain has made is at best weak, and perhaps fake. We don’t have the information to say more. I doubt anyone here has sufficient background here to play Sherlock Holmes. Murray does not even try.

      (1) “I think it was Disraeli, but it could have been Goldstone who were both PM to Queen Victoria. the exchange went something like this …”

      It is from a speech by Lord Palmerston, one of Britain’s great Foreign Ministers (and Prime Minister), on 1 March 1848. The full quote is given here, and well worth reading. You are thinking of this part:

      “It is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

    4. LK: Our ingrained gullibility is shown by the inability of commenters here to see the point of this post — which concerns our inability to clearly see the world.

      Once you know what to look for, you see it everywhere (just notice lack of evidence and it will pop). End of civilization because McCabe was fired at FBI. No one has seen the Inspector General’s report, but all sorts of grave assertions are flying from every corner of the MSM. What do we actually know? McCabe was fired and there are a lot of unverified assertions. Wolff’s book. Filled with all sorts of juicy gossip which he says may or may not actually be factual, but are true in a certain essence. So what do you *really* know by reading that book. Maybe Wolff is an entertaining writer with the chutzpah to get into the Lion’s den and write all sorts of sordid stories of unknown veracity by the author’s own admission. FISA application for Carter Page surveillance? All sorts of theories and counter theories and assertions galore. What to we know? Bupkus beyond “the dossier” was somehow a part of it… Anyone drawing their information from public sources doesn’t know much more than that because they can’t. No evidence or reliable multisource verification.

      Then you get the Skripal hit. I even read somewhere (not worth reproducing) that had the plan worked, it would have looked like they died of natural causes. I don’t know the medical history of his daughter but she looked pretty healthy from pics and the idea that she and her old man (only 66) died of natural causes on a park bench together beggars the imagination, but someone is paying for the subscription to that tripe. And believing it.

      The reason this crap works is something that is summed up by the poster in Mulder’s office from X Files: I want to believe. Our brains are so good at “sense” making (better /story/ or narrative making) that it’s easy to just eat this stuff up. And in the Age of Trump even pretense at standards or appearances have flown out the window. When you get A-lister bogey men like the GRU “The Russians” your story doesn’t even have to make sense. Did they do it? Hell if I know, but you don’t just buy the line top down from your special partner when there is a sophisticated media narrative developed around “The Russians” you’re trying to validate by showing getting tough with sanctions, etc., your troops are in a hot mess in Syria in close proximity to The Russians and your erstwhile ally Turkey bullets and bombs a-flying, and who knows what all else. And, oh yeah, that Putin guy just won another election.

      Skepticism, demanding evidence, patience, admission of the limits of one’s own knowledge and expertise, and having an open mind informed by historical shenanigans from our governments is *not* buying into conspiracy theories.

      Yeah, I know this is my third post, LOL. Obviously I think this is a very important article you’ve written that points to structural issues which are even larger than the particulars that illustrate them.

      Very best regards,

      Bill

  5. This is biggest load of crock I have heard for a very long time – a bunch of smoke and mirrors that is basically just spreading disinformation.

    There is plenty of evidence that Russia is behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Russia has a long history of murdering people it considers traitors – read all about Russia’s Lab X here – the poison factory that helped to silence Soviet’s critics: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/09/russia-lab-x-poison-factory-that-helped-silence-soviets-critics

    Again, there is no mention here about the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and the role of the Russian state: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8tJzsFEq8M

    To think that Putin and his Kremlin regime is not behind this is naivity in extremis and is only aiding the ex-KGB spy in spreading his web of disinformation. For more about how dangerous he is to western democracy, read here: https://mankindsdegradationofplanetearth.com/2018/03/10/max-hastings-putin-is-a-gangster-worth-20billion-who-thinks-he-has-a-licence-to-commit-atrocities-its-time-to-take-him-on-%D0%BF%D1%83%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%BD-%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B3%D1%81%D1%82/

    1. Ivan,

      I’ve missed your God-like but often delusional pronouncements. But this is among your most entertaining since it is based on simple misunderstanding of words.

      “There is plenty of evidence that Russia is behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal”

      None of the things you’ve mentioned are “evidence.” Yes, Russia has used assassination as a tool The US has used assassination as a tool extensively in the WOT, on Iranian scientists (with Israel), and during the Cold War. Does that mean that we killed Sergie?

    2. The thing they all seem to ignore is motive….. what motive or better still what history have they got that suggest that Britain would be a) motivated to stage all this deliberately and b) all the previous murders, I think 11 deaths in the UK have been mentioned in the last 10 years that we’re suspicious , indeed Skripols family are already buried in the UK…..all are anti Putin , that’s ignoring all the people in Russia and elsewhere that happened to be bumped off or imprisoned…. its hilarious that people just ignore all of that in favour of an exciting conspiracy theory…. P.S in the UK we drink cups of tea, eat cake and moan about the weather, we don’t really do JFK type conspiracy’s,

    3. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.

      I know. Larry and some if his pals are saying it is not Putin’s Kremlin but some other entity knocking off Russian exiles abroad who are all rabidly anti-Putin. They waffle on about third parties but have no idea who … because there is no third party with the motivation to do this. So, Putin is about to be re-elected and his whole rule rests on his assertion of enemies wanting to do Russia down. No better time then to add fuel to the fire than by this thoroughly criminal act.

    4. Alex,

      “he thing they all seem to ignore is motive…”

      Not true. There are vast resources being devoted to starting a new Cold War.

      Anyway, enough rants. Thanks for commenting. Good-bye.

    5. I could not agree with you more, Ivan! This “article” is fantasy, just
      like those whom are enchanted by the mystique of UFOs and
      Bigfoot. (sasquatch, for you tribal members – aka T.M.)

      “(1) Lots of rants, mostly irrelevant to Murray’s article.”

      Critical comments are now defamed by being classified as “rants.”

      Mosts readers and posters do not have the luxury of hours on end
      to refute, Mr Murray’s points. Basic common sense leads to a more
      or less logical conclusion. Putin is a murdering thug and if someone
      wishes to deflect from this point of fact, it merely undermines their
      moral authority.

      “(2) Disregard for the specific points he raised.”

      They are disregarded because they lack much credibility. He is a Statist;
      his policial dogma is of the left. Did it require of him to go to Uzbekistan
      to learn it was a despot state and a humane rights violator? Has, Mr Murray,
      ever been critical of rights violation of non-western nations; particularly those
      in Muslame countries? What about Cuba? What about all of the terrorist
      organizations in Mexico, Latin American and South America? Plenty of
      causes there for a “peace” activist. But then, unlike the FARC, Shining Path,
      Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, the British government will not torture and put you to death.

      And yes, we would all agree, Mr Murray, does have factual points of views;
      the problem is, that they are in quite the minority.

      Like most leftists, Murray, has no clear understanding of real evil; it is
      western culture because it is not pure in thought and deed.

      “(3) Amnesia about the long history of western government officials lying about such matters”

      I hope that this was not addressed to the readers and posters of your website? If so,
      then it would be deeply disappointing, Mr Kummer.

      In the future, I would not consider any of Mr Murray’s hypothesis worth my time
      and energy because of his blatant biases and his unhealthy realistic views. On the other
      hand, he should not be barred from entry nor his website, however, there are
      those whom are beyond hope and imprinting.

      The real question should be asked, has Mr Murray ever been critical of Russian
      human rights violations and use of ban chemicals in recent combat? If nay, then
      he is in complete disrepair and unsuitable for a sincere debate.

      In reality, Mr Murray, is representative of a nation in decline.

  6. Seamus Milne is praised in this piece. Readers should find out who Milne is, in addition to being a chief adviser to Corbyn, head of the British Labour Party. Read this as a hint:

    https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/seamas-milne-on-stalins-missing-millions/

    Milne is in the same category as Hobsbawm and David Irving: he is essentially so committed to the virtues of the Communist movement that he moves into denial when confronted with any realistic account of its results. He has correctly been described as ‘the last Stalinist in Europe’. This is basically Holocaust denial, but its a different holocaust.

    The combination of Corbyn and Milne have enthusiasms which should alert one to what may be going on. They include, the IRA, Hamas, leaving Nato, unilateral nuclear disarmament, the current Venezuelan regime, the former Soviet Union, up to and including Stalin, and the present Russian Federation and its leader. There are also things which do not attract their enthusiasm. Chief among them is the state of Israel – to such an extent that Corbyn declines to even mention the word in public. As far as they are concerned there is Palestine and an illegitimate neo-imperialist capitalist occupying oppressor.

    Their assent to the leadership of the Labour Party has unleashed and legitimized the buried anti-Semitism of the British Left, now in an unholy alliance with Islamism. So as an example, we had Ken Livingstone, a party luminary till expelled, claiming that Hitler was a Zionist. We have the common jeer of ‘Zio’, which is about the equivalent of ‘Yid’. We also have such things as Naz Shah, at the time a Shadow Cabinet member, publicly opiniing that Israel should be moved to Arizona or someplace else in America. She did not mean, move the entire population, Jews and Arabs. No, it was one particular group that should be moved….

    A substantial number of Corbyinite Labour MPs have appeared regularly on RT. Corbyn has refused requests to impose a Labour Party ban on appearances on the channel.

    Now, all this is reason for looking very hard at anything Milne and Corbyn say in these kinds of subjects, but its ad hominem. Whether these are objective observers or activists with external allegiances, it could still be that the British Intelligence services are mistaken. It is also possible that the present government has gone beyond what they have given evidence for. This certainly happened with the previous Labour government, which simply made up the Iraq WMD claims out of whole cloth. I don’t think it Intelligence complicity in this was ever shown, I do not think they are fabricating evidence in the present case, but the past misuse of what they had found, and invention of intelligence by political advisers certainly happened, and the evidence is that this was deliberately done by Blair and his advisers.

    But once you have dismissed Corbyn and Milne, and turned to the subject, the thing you have to account for, if you take the view that Russia was not involved, is how it came about that a very difficult to manufacture nerve agent, of a very rare sort, and with a fairly short shelf life, came to be introduced into the baggage of Yulia. That appears to be what happened. And you also have to consider that its part of a pattern. The Litivinenko murder with polonium is inexplicable except as a state assassination. And the key chunk of evidence there that you cannot get around is that in the hotel room which Lugovoi used, the sink trap was heavily contaminated with radioactivity. How did it get there, were he not the author? There are also other very odd deaths of Russian exiles in the UK. One or two could be accidents. The number there have been however is beyond coincidence and suggests a program.

    To any objective reader of what has been revealed, there is not enough to prove Russian State involvement beyond a reasonable doubt, but there is public evidence which meets the balance of probability test, and the government may well hold evidence meeting the reasonable doubt test.

    Unless you are besotted with Russia, with various violent extremist and authoritarian movements and parties around the world, and in denial about their history and nature. And prepared to assert, with no evidence, that the British Intelligence services are corrupt and simply making stuff up, and that the British Government as a whole is less credible than the Russian, and the Russian intelligence services.

    Won’t fly.

    1. Simon,

      What a weird comment. Fortunately it is too long for many people to bother reading it.

      A 500 word long rant about the British Labour party. Nice to know that you don’t like one of the UK’s major parties. The world shakes.

      I love how people point to Russia’s history of doing bad things, as if the US doesn’t have quite the dark past. Amnesia is interesting to see. We can feel sorry for you, but can’t help.

      Finally you get to the specifics. Not much there.

      “is how it came about that a very difficult to manufacture nerve agent, of a very rare sort, and with a fairly short shelf life, came to be introduced into the baggage of Yulia.”

      Doing so was well withing the capability of any nation-state.

      “The Litivinenko murder with polonium is inexplicable”

      It’s also irrelevant. Most major nations have used assassination. Maybe someone used a MO Russia has used in order to fool the gullible Russia-haters.

      “How did it get there, were he not the author?”

      Think about it for 20 seconds and you will have a possible answer. After a minute you will have two answers.

      This spycraft takes place in the dark. We know only what little we’re told, and typically much of that is lies. What’s so sad is that our governments lie to us over and over again, yet gullible people still believe everything they’re told. Excellent proles, a gift to our rulers.

      “to any objective reader”

      It’s pretty obvious that’s not you.

      “Unless you are besotted with Russia, with various violent extremist and authoritarian movements and parties around the world, and in denial about their history and nature.”

      If wordpress would provide anti-rant filters — along with antispam — comment threads would be more useful.

      “And prepared to assert, with no evidence, that the British Intelligence services are corrupt and simply making stuff up”

      Wow. Keep those eyes closed!

      “and that the British Government as a whole is less credible than the Russian, and the Russian intelligence services.”

      Now you are just making stuff up. While a change from delusional rants, it is not an improvement.

    2. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.

      Yes Simon I agree with you that Corbyn’s approach to Russia is a very dangerous one. I also agree thinking the British Intelligence Services making this up about the Russian state’s involvement is a pure act of fantasy on Larry’s part.

      He thinks Putin and Lavrov should be treated on the same basis as politicians from western European democracies, which for me beggars belief. Is he really that naive about the Kremlin regime, or is he convinced that all European nations and the USA operate on the same ethical and moral basis as Putin and his oligarch cronies? If he believes the latter then he really has fallen for the Putin-Kremlin line.

    3. Larry, I was going to skip reading until I read your reply, and comment above. It is like the western world has forgotten how to analyse and how to argue. Is there a comment that actually tries to debunk the chemistry of Dr. Robin Black? Why is it that most cannot recognize that the most incompetent of spying is to be always so predictable. And then not to recognize the WOT, and the lies all governments tell everyday?!?

      “What was the work of the greatest minds becomes simply engineering in a generation”: to paraphrase why we have so many atomic weapons and nuclear nations.

    1. Ivan,

      I feel sorry for you that after decades of lies by government officials, you consider statements by a govt official to be reliable evidence. Especially when it comes to the Cold War, in which lies have been as commonplace as dirt.

  7. “Mass spectrometry identifies the masses of substances and can perhaps identify a formula, but not a structure.”

    As is often the case, this is only partially true. I this type of chemistry for a living (for ~40 years now).

    There is often structural information in the mass spectrum- in fact usually. However, the mass spectrum often does not carry “all”/enough to give enough legal certainty about certain chemical structure. For example, Infrared coupled with the Mass Spectrum together give enough certainty to get a legal conviction in a drug case.

    So, it does take some analytical chemistry skill to get this right. I doubt you will see the complete picture of the chemistry work in the popular media.

    If this is Russian, high level government in action, it is about as ham-handed as it gets. It does seem suspicious.

    1. wkevinw,

      Thank you for that useful technical perspective!

      “Infrared coupled with the Mass Spectrum together give enough certainty to get a legal conviction in a drug case.”

      The evidence sought here is different than identification of an illegal substance. The claim is that using a mass spectrometry they can identify the source of the poison. After all, both Russia and the US (and perhaps others) can make it.

    2. You can identify who made some things by certain patterns in the data, e.g. contamination fingerprint/pattern, certain isomeric ratios, etc. It depends on the details of the sample. If they only have biological fluids it is usually harder, but sometimes you can even tell from the metabolized profile- somebody has to have done a lot of prework to get reference data.

      Example: Anthrax. By chemical/biochemical analysis you can tell which lab it came from- under the assumption that all of the labs which make it have been cataloged. They do fatty acid and nucleic acid profiles and can tell which lab made it.

      It’s pretty fancy stuff in the lab…

    3. wkevinw,

      Yes it can be done, sometimes. But that’s not the point, nor is it in dispute. There is no evidence even mentioned this it has been done for this incident.

      Also, sSince there are no samples of the agent from Russia, such attribution analysis will be difficult. Murray’s point is that blame has been assign — and gullibly believed — in the absence of evidence.

    4. Larry, one of the problems that was mentioned is the lack of standards. This applies to inferred, mass spec, and gas chromatography. The standards business is a huge part of our modern manufacturing and food industries. I don’t think we have a spy standards clearing house to do what MIGHT be done. It is more likely that using these three tools would only tell the Brits whether they themselves did it or not; no one else, though.

  8. Thank you Larry. Your blog content is critical and is seeking truth. I used the word truth, because I believe those of us who care should fight for it. I also know truth is becoming more ambiguous in our media and politics.

  9. If this was corruption we’d be saying ‘follow the money’. But it’s not about that, it’s got more to do with political benefit, and the waters are muddy to say the least.

    But Putin is going to lose little political capital abroad, his allies will be his allies, his foes will remain so. At home he is able to pile on the ‘they’ve got it in for us’ message that his media have been very keen to push. It’s probably going to improve turnout at the election and avoid an embarrassing low turnout. Economically it’s unlikely they’ll lose out significantly because they’re already pretty much sanctioned up the wazoo and Europe can’t manage without their gas. Finally, no-ones going to send a gunboat.

    As for third parties, their motivations are less clear and, frankly, so far, I’ve yet to see anyone anywhere gaining something that looks like political advantage from these attempted murders. So ATM, for me, probability wise, 70% Kremlin, 30% murky third party. We’ll never know, and certainly not for certain.

    As for the analysis of the Novichok (which I believe is designed to be delivered as a binary and comes in multiple variants) there’s mass, NMR, and IR spectroscopy as well as various chromatography techniques.

    Molecular structure. Look for articles on isomer analysis by spectral methods. Labs routinely do work to determine impurities in food or other agents, down to a few ppm.

    Often you can tell the origin of something by the impurities in the sample. Different labs use different precursor chemicals which (unless you’re very very stringent) leave behind unique traces from the various synthesis stages as well as impurities in precursors themselves. Slight variances in reaction techniques and conditions can change the balance of side products in a reaction. There are normally secondary or tertiary products from any complex synthesis and the type and ratio of these can tell you a lot about how the synthesis was done and from that its often possible to say, ahhh that’s a technique used in Germany, China or wherever…

    Of course it can be faked but then that’s for someone else to show. But they can’t.

    The UK *is* going to send a sample to the OPCW. Just not to Russia.

    Corbyn and Milne are both died in the wool Trotskites who are probably incapable of direct criticism of Russia regardless of circumstances. Doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but a pinch of salt is required.

    It’s a long comment, I hope it comes across as a thoughtful, positive contribution…

    1. Steve,

      Your analysis is wildly one-sided. Which is the point of Murry’s article. He’s talking about us, and why we make such excellent sheep.

      Your analysis assumes we have complete information, and that what we have been told is correct. Experience should have taught us that neither is likely.

      The West’s governments want another Cold War, since the first one provides such a rich array of benefits. They are willing to lie to us as necessary. I suggest some humility about what we know before assuming that you’re Sherlock Holmes.

      “The UK *is* going to send a sample to the OPCW. Just not to Russia.”

      On Friday they invited OPCW to Britain to examine a sample. You don’t explain why they don’t want Russia to see a sample.

    2. Larry,

      One sided? I guess I’m kind of disappointed you feel that way.

      AFAIK the OPCW will get a sample that they will be able to independently test to verify the UK test results. But even if they do verify them, it won’t be enough for those wedded to deep state conspiracy theories because, obviously, the sample the OPCW received wasn’t what was used at Salisbury (hence the delay in handover) or OPCW have been penetrated by MOSAD or the CIA or whoever or the original was faked.

      If that isn’t plausible, there’s no paper trail, so it could have been the Russian Mafia, rogue FSB or the Ukraine wanting to discredit Putin.

      Even if there are elements of a paper trail, those were faked or are innocent things misinterpreted to defame Putin and are the work of the deeply anti-Russian west.

      The way the Kremlin and Russian media handled the shooting down of the Malaysian Airliner will be a template for the way they manage information on Salisbury

      Today we had the Russian ambassador to the EU saying that it could have been the work of the UK and implying that it was significant that Porton is only a few miles from Salisbury.

    3. Steve,

      “One sided? I guess I’m kind of disappointed you feel that way.”

      Since you and the others here completely ignored what Murray said, and gave a series of statements that were either irrelevant or logical fallacies, “one sided” is the kind description. Such non-rebuttals as the best critics can do is evidence of the strength of Murray’s case. They are typical of political “debates” in America”, for example about climate science or economics or the War on Terror. I wrote them up in 2008, based on comments by climate activists. See the first two, which characterize comments by the Cold Warriors in this thread. I could change a few words, and most of read like War Bloggers in 2010 defending our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (victory was certain and near) — or climate activists in 2010 (doom was near!) — or peak oilers in 2008 (by 2015 oil would be hundreds of dollars per barrel and the economy a wreck).

      • Pro-AGW comments often display no signs of having read the skeptics’ work.
      • Pro-AGW comments often invent assertions which they can easily refute.

      If you have any cogent rebuttals, try stating what Murray says then give either facts or logic in reply.

    4. Steve, see my comment above. Also, yes certain labs can have unique traceability. But we are discussing a potential spy effort. Though possible, it seems unlikely that the spy effort would include known traceable items, unless it was to plant a false flag.

  10. Thanks for another great post.
    My naughty side comes out when I read posts like this: If I were the Russians I would knock off Ed Snowden and use some ancient nerve poison associated with Britain or the US and then sit and watch the fun. Win-win embarrass and make them squirm and at the same time see a release of Wikileaks material held in reserve for just such a time as this.

    1. 7zander,

      You’re the first one here to make that obvious inference. The naivete of the commenters here is amazing. We are such excellent sheep.

      “False flag attacks” have a long history. US officials have a long record of discussing using them, and some know to have been used. Here are some examples.

      (a) DoD’s Operation Northwoods — FF to start a war with Cuba. Never executed.

      (b) CIA’s Project TP-Ajax — It included false flag attacks “on mosques and key public figures”, to be blamed on Iranian communists loyal to the government. At least one was bombed. The CIA review said that the tactic of false flag attacks added to the “positive outcome” — and burned the records.

      (c) A 1962 memo discusses use of false flag attacks blamed on the Soviet Union using aircraft built to look like Soviet planes. See Newsweek and the memo.

      (d) There is some evidence that the chemical attacks in Syria were false flag attacks.

  11. The only thing I take exception to is the statement that the UK has two political parties. We have several political parties.

    Can anyone explain why the US and the UK are stoking up a new Cold War with Russia?

    It is not as if the UK and the US have not used assassination for political purposes, nor interfered in the domestic politics of foreign nations.

    These explanations are not enough to explain current anti-Russian policies. Something else is going on.

    What domestic political reasons are there in the UK that provide the fuel for anti-Russian policies?

    I assume that the reason in the US is to delegitimize Mr Trump as president.

    But why is Mrs May promoting anti-Russian sentiment? Is is to preempt criticism of UK Green policies that have placed the UK energy sector at the mercy of Russian gas?

    1. As a Brit there are no explanations to support your conspiracy, Britain didn’t need this at a time when economics are uncertain due to brexit, Russians invest billions into the UK. Sometimes you idiots need to except that everything in life isn’t a conspiracy despite it making life more exciting for you. Putin wanted to test the UK, its support in light of brexit and Trump…. last time he did it he was left of the hook, in fact many times UK gov has looked the other way (disgracefully) when murder has been done in their back yard
      And to those who suggest its the Russian Maffia…. well Putin is the Russian maffia …..they run Russia

    2. Alex,

      Rant some more, call people “idiots”, show your telepathic knowledge of the thinking of the world’s rulers! It’s quite fun to read.

      “Putin wanted to test the UK, its support in light of brexit and Trump”

      Did he tell you this over shots of Vodka?

    3. US stoking up wars= military industrial complex, as usual. Neocons dress it up these days.

      One of the ugliest, most evil forces on earth, and I am a pretty right wing American…for what that’s worth.

      Read George Washington’s farewell address. It’s relevant today, and always will be.

      I’ll go with President Washington on this one.

    4. Frederick,

      (1) Thanks for catching the misstatement about Brit’s parties. Fixed!

      (2) “Can anyone explain why the US and the UK are stoking up a new Cold War with Russia?”

      The first Cold War was a cornucopia of benefits for the rulers of the US and UK. Lucrative defense contracts. Expanded government secreacy. Using fear of an external foe to keep the people scared and docile. Allows reporting of a series of victories over largely imaginary attacks. Etc.

      (3) “I assume that the reason in the US is to delegitimize Mr Trump as president.”

      That’s probably backwards. Leaders of both parties are boosters of the Cold War II. Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism (well-grounded skepticism). This brought our massive pro-war party into the anti-Trump coalition.

  12. A completely pointless article, yes the science needs to be questioned but your getting side tracked, it all fits that it’s Russia, the timing, the arrogance and muscle flexing about it, the fact that it fits the pattern of previous attacks and other current murders, the fact that it’s almost certainly been in luggage carried from Russia…. etc etc
    People love conspiracy theory’s and yes some are true but this doesn’t feel like a conspiracy to me, it’s real and the Russians and their friends will pump out drivel on the net in order to avoid blame …

    1. Alex,

      I love these fact-free rebuttals. Wave your hands some more while keeping your eyes shut. It’s fun to watch!

      Also fun to watch is invocation of magic words like “conspiracy theory” (and “terrorist”) to stop all critical thought.

      We are a gift to our rulers, so docile and like sheep!

  13. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.

    Its not about disliking the Labour Party. There are many aspects of it which I strongly favor and approve of. I think its lost its way recently, but that is not the issue. Its about noting that the voices in the UK, mainly on the left of Labour, who seek to exonerate Russia in this are suspect, and have a track record of justifying the unjustifiable. One should not assume they are motivated by a disinterested desire for the truth. Their track record is terrible, and its not the voice of the Labour Party of the late John Smith. Or indeed the Labour Party of Yvette Cooper, Keir Starmer, and the others who by implication condemned Corbyn’s and Milne’s reaction during the Commons debate.

    People who voice a general cynicism about our leaders, our intelligence services, our politics also need to explain why those of other nations are to be exempt from the suspicion which these people turn on our own. The pattern of the voices in the UK who are voicing skepticism about the Russian connexion never permit an equivalent skepticism about their own chosen causes, be they leaving NATO, Venezuela, Hamas, the IRA or ‘our friends’ in Islamic terrorist movements. The approach seems to be, these are exempt from suspicion, whereas all kinds of paranoid fantasies about our own evil institutions and governments are to be encouraged.

    Yes, I do think the information in the public domain meets the ‘balance of probability’ test. And I generally accept the integrity of the Intelligence services in this investigation, and also that of Theresa May. I do not think she would have gone as far as she has without the unpublished evidence meeting the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ test. I do not think there is some kind of ‘deep state’ conspiracy to unjustly accuse Russia. I do think that the pattern of deaths of Russian exiles in Britain, in suspicious circumstances, is something that requires consideration in connexion with assessing responsibility for this one. This is not a one-off or standalone episode, and I note that one of the other recent deaths has now become the subject of a murder enqjuiry.

    I do not have access to the evidence the Cabinet has, so its impossible to go beyond, and I am not going beyond, the balance of probability. But I think to start thinking about this with the view that our own government is lying to us and that, as some Russian spokespeople have suggested, it is actually British Intelligence that is murdering all those people?

    I see nothing to justify such paranoid fantasies, whether at this or a lower level about our own governments. And remember, before invoking the ‘dodgy dossier’ and the WMD allegations, that we did in open hearings finally get to the bottom of this, and the political class has learned a lesson they will not forget in our lifetime.

  14. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.

    There are many things I like and admire in the Labour Party. That is not the point.

    The question is really, given the evidence, where does the balance of probability lie, and do you find our own government and intelligence services more or less credible than the Russian when weighing the different assertions made about what we do not have access to.

    My view is that our political class learned a lesson they will remember for our lifetimes in the Iraq WMD affair. That this was primarily a failure not of the intelligence services but of the then Labour government. But it eventually came out in open hearings. Anything like that ever happened in Russia? The Soviet Union? Venezuela? The IRA or Hamas? Or any of the other weird objects of Corbyn and Milne’s devotion?

    The resolution of this has in my view raised the credibility of the intelligence services and our politicians. They screwed up royally (the Labour Party, that is), and they were exposed and learned their lesson. I also think when considering this that Theresa May is no Tony Blair. Blair was an unprincipled magician. May remains a vicar’s daughter.

    I remain pretty confident that the forensic work done, as in the Litvinenko case, has been professionally done and reported to Cabinet with integrity. I am also confident of Theresa May’s integrity, and that she would not have proceeded as she has without having evidence ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Corbyn, having seen the same evicence, has chosen to obfuscate and talk around it, which is entirely in character. This is why his track record, and Milne’s, is important.

    And finally, when considering the evidence in the public domain, and the series of cases of which this is only the last one, I am confident that on the balance of probability the case favors Russian state involvement.

    Like the former Soviet Union, its a gangsterish oligarchy. Its recovering from the collapse of its former empire under the stress of its internal contradictions, and its taking pot shots where it feels it can with impunity. The Russian exile community in the UK is evidently a target of opportunity these last few years. This is what the evidence points to. Not beyond reasonable doubt, but on the balance of probability.

  15. Two things in this Skripal case are very intriguing indeed.

    A. How come father and daughter Skripal didn’t die? The poison is said to be extremely dangerous. The assassin, if there was one, must have been very ignorant and unprofessional to fail here.

    B. How come the poison was identified so quickly? Among millions of possible substances?

    Putting these facts together, I can come only to one conclusion. Skripals were handling the poison themselves and were not carefull enough. They got sick but could still tell the name of the poison to the health care personel. And get a treatment to maybe stay alive.

    The strong and rather premature reaction of the May goverment can well be explained by the difficult Brexit negotiations and the nearing election day in Russia. What a wonderfull chance to unite UK against this evil man Putin and maybe take some influence on outcome of the election!

    1. Lizzy,

      (1) “How come father and daughter Skripal didn’t die?”

      I don’t know about your first question. A standard assumption of propaganda is that the evil foe is both powerful and weak, brilliant and stupid — as the narrative demands.

      (2) “How come the poison was identified so quickly?”

      My guess is that they had a sufficiently large sample to allow a mass spectrometer to identify it.

      (3) Putting these facts together, I can come only to one conclusion. Skripals were handling the poison themselves and were not carefull enough.”

      I guess that’s possible but it is certainly too bold to be a conclusion based on the little we know.

      (4) “The strong and rather premature reaction of the May goverment can well be explained by the difficult Brexit negotiations”

      Wag the dog!” Lots of examples of that in history.

  16. Mass spectrometry has determined the gas coming out of my ass is methane and it stinks. I know, this doesn’t add much but it’s about what I feel about the whole situation. The dude in the UK betrayed his country and got his in the end. Kind of hope Snowden suffers a similar fate.unfortunately innocents were exposed.

    The press is all over this simply because of Trump. Since when did the press give two craps about the Russians before Trump? They didn’t.

    The Russians did it and in the end there’s nothing anybody is gonna do about it.

    1. Gute,

      I can empathize with your feelings about this, but you are missing the point about this long series of posts about these kind of stories. Their significance lies not in the actual facts (which we seldom know), but in our defective ability to see the world.

      Our gullibility is among our greatest faults. It makes us weak.

      Who killed this ex-Russian spy & double agent makes no difference to us. Our weakness might change the course of this nation’s history. I suggest you pay attention.

  17. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.

    For anyone who is interested in the real picture of what is going on in Russia and Ukraine, then check out these websites: https://mankindsdegradationofplanetearth.com/2018/03/17/two-excellent-websites-that-are-fighting-back-against-the-kremlins-disinformation-propoganda-%D0%B4%D0%B2%D0%B0-%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%82%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%82-%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%B9%D1%82%D0%B0/

  18. I have no idea who wasted this guy, but I want to say for the record that I wasn’t in London at the time, and I can prove it.

    When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras, and while you’re at it, try shaving with Occam’s razor. After every high profile atrocity, there are always claims of false flags. It wasn’t ever really done by the obvious suspects who a motive and known history of doing this sort of thing. It was done by the CIA, the Bush family, Halliburton, Dick Cheney, the military industrial complex who wants a new Cold War, as if we don’t have one already, plus any number of hot wars, or the Jews. This stuff follows every event, like night follows day. Is it possible that this time it’s right, and not just another nutball conspiracy theory not grounded in reality or fact? Of course. But that’s not the smart way to bet.

    When a woman is murdered, the first guy the cops suspect is always the last guy she was with. It was her husband, boyfriend, some guy she dated. Is he always guilty? Does the fact that he was with her constitute proof? No, but 80% of the time, yeah, he did it. The cops aren’t stupid, they’re just playing the odds.

    So this dead guy apparently had a beef with a dude who was known to employ assassins who had access to sophisticated poisons, and a known history of using them. Is it possible that the hit was really carried out by someone else? In theory, sure. But me and Occam are betting on the dude.

    1. The Man,

      That’s totally missing the point of the post. Amazing to see so many people here that think they are Sherlock Holmes, or that anyone cares about their “solution.”

      We’ll go to any extreme to avoid looking in the mirror — after all, it is more fun to scream at Putin from our couches than contemplate what our gullibility is doing to our own nation.

      We’re incapable of seeing the world accurately, and remain gullible after generations of lies by govt officials.

  19. Dear Mr Kummer,

    Thank’s for the post. When I heard the story repeated uncritically on NPR, I asked myself WTF? Now I know that some unbelievable assclownery are possible at the very top of government (seen with my own eyes! Oy veh!), but if I’m thinking that I want to put a hit out on someone, I’m not going to think “hey, let’s use some exotic toxin that might be traceable back to us!” (and yes, I get the traceability and sourcing issues). I’d think, how ’bout you blow them up and make terrorists did it or stab them and take their wallet. That’s just me. People really do want to play James Bond in this countries service and I’m sure the UK, too, alas. Still, a good knife is an up-close-and-personal assassin’s best friend.

    Also, there’s the cui bono aspect of this. Let’s get busted so we can have half our spies thrown out of the embassy? Terrorize other would be double agents? Just hang the guy’s mother. It makes no sense, though sometimes even smart people do dumb things. This is just too weird. Yet not a single question or demand for evidence.

    Now who does benefit? Well, the US gets to ratchet up sanctions and continue the staggeringly stupid march back to the cold war. Turkey gets their (fairly passive and keeping out of the way in Afrin) rival in Syria kicked in the ass via sanctions, but I don’t think they’d make the connection. UK chucks a couple dozen spies out, but at the cost of losing theirs in Moscow. Even if the plan went perfectly (which it might have), the Russians get bupkus. So much for n-dimensional chess playing unbeatable evil genius Putin. Can control American elections with a hundred grand on Facebook but can’t even get a simple hit right. Obvious, right?

    I have *no* idea who did the hit, but this uncritical parroting of “The Russians!” is going from tiresome to alarming. And in the age of Trump, no deep state assertion goes unchallenged. I hope my nephews have a world to fix when they grow up.

    With kind regards,

    Bill

    1. Bill,

      “I have *no* idea who did the hit, but this uncritical parroting of “The Russians!” is going from tiresome to alarming. And in the age of Trump, no deep state assertion goes unchallenged. ”

      Most of the comments here are chaff, showing no signs of actually reading the post. But there are a few like yours.

      Much is made by the right-wing ranters about Russia’s history of assassinating foes. Not only does this ignore the US history (albeit not as colorful in methods), but also ignores the recent pattern of lies and exaggerations about Russia’s actions — with the obvious intent of starting a new Cold War. After all, Trump’s trillion-dollar military budgets have to be justified — along with all those lucrative contracts for new carrieres, new fighters, new bombers, new atomic weapons, etc.

      The stakes are high.

  20. This hit piece is not defendable. It is the worst article ever published on this fine website. Lesser Britain wishes to restart the cold war? Please, Mr Kummer, that argument is shallow and has no merit.

    “The genocidal policy of Israel towards the Palestinians these last seventy years” – Craig Murray

    We all know that the federales and most other governmental units lie to us but so does Mr Murray, the humane rights activist.

    I suspect most of your readers, are open minded and seek the truth but folks such as Mr Murray himself is a propagandist; why else would he make such a deceitful statement
    above.

    1. Bill,

      “The genocidal policy of Israel towards the Palestinians these last seventy years”

      If that is your only factual rebuttal to this article, you’re in the same boat with the ranters above. Keep those eyes closed!

      Israel’s systematic theft of Palestinians’ land is not genocidal in the literal sense (any more than was America’s treatment of Native Americans), but captures the spirit of the policy.

  21. This is a disappointing article for this site.
    Even more disappointing is the dismissive and contemptuous way the Editor has responded to anyone not in lockstep with his worldview (as I am sure this will be)
    It is fairly clear a deeper game is being played, the UK government has accused Russia and has pushed a particular narrative, knowing how risk averse and legalistic the British Government is and how terrified they are of pissing Russia off and more importantly losing all the Russian money they are laundering, I struggle to think they would generate an incident such as this simply to try and curry favour and start a new cold war. Britain can barely afford training much less an arms race.
    On the balance of probabilities, Russia had the means, motive and opportunity. Their response and the British response indicates that for some reason both sides want a confrontation, however the actual meat of it (reciprocal expulsions) are so tepid that it leads one to question what’s really going on.
    Have the Russians insinuated they can’t appear to cooperate until after the election and the Brits have had to demonstrate some sort of resolve?
    We will only know after the election as the situation develops.
    On the balance of probability Russia is the prime suspect. I would also cast a beady eye at Ukraine, who is the only power I can think of who would also have the means, motive and opportunity.
    So far not enough is known and the game is playing out, those who are declaring jihad on Russia are as equally stupid as those rolling out their tin foil hat conspiracy theories

    1. peccavi,

      “Even more disappointing is the dismissive and contemptuous way the Editor has responded to anyone not in lockstep with his worldview”

      Nice example of the reading FAIL seen in Murray’s critics. It is the near-total failure to respond — or even acknowledge anything Murrays. Most give no evidence of having read the post. Plus the amnesia about the history of lying to us, and the one-sided view of cold war history. And the belief of commenters that they are super geopolitical experts.

      “It is fairly clear a deeper game is being played, the UK government has accused Russia and has pushed a particular narrative, knowing how risk averse and legalistic the British Government is and how terrified they are of pissing Russia off and more importantly losing all the Russian money they are laundering”

      Talk about speculative theories!

      • The UK govt has a long history of gambles — such as the Falklands War and Brexit.
      • Its imprisonment of Assange is not “legalistic”, nor was its long war in Ireland (e.g., from the Black and Tans to the SAS in Northern Ireland.
      • What evidence is there that they are “Terrified they are of pissing Russia ofF”? Why would Russia scare them?
      • What evidence is there that the UK’s leaders value illegal capital inflows from Russia?

      Some numbers: UK GDP is ~2T pounds. Illegal inflows from Russia are difficult to estimate, but a recent Deutsche Bank study said they’re nor running at 400 million GBP/month — 0.2% of GDP. Small change. Such flows are a long-standing part of the British economy. They can have local affects, and are usually considered undesirable.

      More broadly, “hot money” capital flows (legal) have undesirable effects on one’s economy. They push up the currency (bad for exports), and their volatility is disruptive.

      “I struggle to think they would generate an incident such as this simply to try and curry favour and start a new cold war.”

      The last one was quite beneficial to their elites. Also, they have a long history of following US leads — including recent activities such as following the US into the Afghanistan hole and holding Assange.

      “On the balance of probability Russia is the prime suspect.”

      Like most commenters here, you appear not to have read the post. More precisely, you have not mentioned a single point made by Murray or me in the post.

  22. Due to a WordPress system problem, a batch of comments were lost in the trash, including this one.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/18/jeremy-corbyn-sergei-skripal-attack-putin

    Read it and think about it. The idea that the Russian government is more trustworthy than our own is ludicrous. The idea that Corbyn and Milne are anything but Russian sockpuppets is equally ludicrous. Milne has a track record of defending the Soviet holocaust. Corbyn has a track record of defending terrorists and dictators and speaking of them as our friends.

    If I have to pick, and we do, I have infinitely more trust in Theresa May’s integrity than that of Corbyn, Milne or Putin.

    This is my fourth attempt at posting. Have I been banned for dissent?

  23. “Larry Kummer, Editor
    17 March 2018 at 9:23 am
    Bill,

    “The genocidal policy of Israel towards the Palestinians these last seventy years”

    If that is your only factual rebuttal to this article, you’re in the same boat with the ranters above. Keep those eyes closed!

    Israel’s systematic theft of Palestinians’ land is not genocidal in the literal sense (any more than was America’s treatment of Native Americans), but captures the spirit of the policy.”

    Thank you for your reply, Mr Kummer.

    It is depavity to use the word genocidal in the content with Jews! It is why I have no respect
    for this man. Palestinians – fake people, as so rightly described by Newt Gingrich but the
    both of you partake in this convention.

    Perhaps one day, you could find time to pursue the debate of “Israel’s systematic theft of Palestinians’ land’
    and the theft of Native Indian of North America, although in two parts. Lively debate will be
    insured.

    Is Mr Murray, a collaborating Russian agent? Attention-Deficit Disorder?

    https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201803161062616804-uk-russia-skripal-poisoning-murray/

    Owner of the above.

    https://dnslytics.com/domain/sputnik-tj.com

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trump-russia-propaganda/u-s-based-russian-news-outlet-registers-as-foreign-agent-idUKKCN1G201N

    “The useful lesson from the material here is that no matter how often our leaders lie to us – and during the Cold War they have lied a lot – many in America and Britain still automatically believe them. We are gullible sheep, a gift to our ruling elites.”

    True but it begs the question, whom lied more the west or the east? Puritans perished in
    the apple orchard.

    Kummer – “The UK govt has a long history of gambles — such as the Falklands War and Brexit.”

    Several pieces you could do, which may prove to be popular.

  24. “The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, brought Mr Murray’s hard-hitting speech up in a meeting with Mr Karimov. This was said to have incensed Mr Karimov. Mr Murray sent numerous reports to London about human rights abuses, and his dispatches became increasingly heated during the build-up to the Iraqi invasion. He argued Uzbekistan’s human rights abuses were as bad as those being used as ammunition against Baghdad. Yet Washington was financing Uzbekistan, rather than invading it, he said.”

    Judge a man by his moral compass. To compare Irack’s Saddam Hussein murders
    deeds same or similar to that of Uzbekistan is beyond the pale. Murray’s moral compass
    and judgment is badly frayed and all caution and skepticism should be applied. Another
    example of his damaged reputation. No competent man would have made this comparison,
    ever.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/16/newsid_4304000/4304853.stm

    https://www.hrw.org/reports/1993/iraqanfal/ANFALINT.htm

    1. Bill,

      The recourse to “I don’t like the author” is, in my experience, a reliable indicator that the author is correct. It shows the critics inability to produce any significant rebuttal evidence.

      I’ve seen this countless times in the political battles about economics and climate change. “Paul Krugman says XX< but he's a dirty liberal so I never listen to him." "Gavin Schmidt says CCC about climate change, but he's an alarmists and so always wrong." "Roger Pielke Sr. says GGG about Climate Change, but he's a denier and so always wrong. Krugman has the Nobel Prize in Economics. Schmidt and Pielke Sr. have long and influential publicant histories and awards. Such weak criticism is a "baptism of fire." Thanks for your endorsement of this article.

  25. Dear Mr Kummer,

    This is has been quite the thread. I commend your patience and endurance. I don’t remember such an explosion of outrage and I’ve been stopping by for a while now.

    FWIW, the BBC reportage has been fairly *thorough*. For example they cited that Skripal had been jailed in Russia for 13 years. But they don’t ask the right questions. So having had their guy and his pound of flesh a dozen years ago, why poison him now, and why with an exotic toxin? Why not just garrote him and throw him in the Thames?

    What a lot of your readers seem to miss (alas) is asking why is a job of journalists, not just rote parroting. I mean, maybe the Russians did do exactly what everyone claims (I have first-hand seen unbelievable assclownery at the highest levels of our D&I establishment and civilian departments, too), but why? Similarly, why would Assad provoke a very aggressive and destructive US with the use of chemical weapons for questionable tactical gains? Asking that question is not the same as saying he didn’t do it, or will do it again. But it’s very, very stupid of him if he actually would do something like that, especially when bullets, bombs, and starvation are pretty effective tools in total war, and the most well-stocked and funded military in the the world is holding a hair-trigger gun to his head? Skepticism is not conspiracy theory any more than parroting propaganda is journalism.

    Keep fighting the good fight, brother.

    With best regards,

    Bill

  26. As always, my very first instinct when a foreign spy is killed is to rush to Vlad’s defense with liberal sprinkles of whataboutism.

    I say Hillary in the Admirals’ Lounge with the poison candlestick.

    1. Fellow Woke,

      “my very first instinct when a foreign spy is killed is to rush to Vlad’s defense with liberal sprinkles of whataboutism.”

      Does your opinion matter? Is Putin or Britain eagerly awaiting your verdict?

      Perhaps it might be more useful to become skilled at analysis of news to better distinguish propaganda from fact. Which is the point of this post.

      I assume you realized that is the subject of this post.

  27. The other point that almost no one mentions is that it doesn’t matter if the poison was created in Russia. After the USSR collapsed in 1991, the biowar labs stopped paying their workers and the entire system descended into chaos. It’s entirely possible that some toxins could have been stolen and sold on the black market to third parties.
    Those third parties could then use the toxins, but this doesn’t mean that the Russian government or the Russian people had anything to do with it.
    Does anyone remember the weaponized anthrax sent to U.S. govt officials in 2001? Using the jump-to-conclusion logic people are using today, we would have to conclude that the U.S. government sent that anthrax. Once again, toxins can be removed from secure facilities, sold, stolen, re-used any third party. The origin of a toxin offers no indication whatsoever of who deployed it.

    1. McLaren,

      Good point about the possibility (guessing) that the USSR lost some of the chemical weapons.

      But the anthrax attack is an even more important and relevant incident. It played an essential role in getting the Patriot Act passed, one of the key laws in post-WWII US history. The germs came from a DoD lab, and the government has gone to extreme lengths to conceal what happened.

      I didn’t want to mention this — it’s peripheral to the subject — but it is essential background knowledge. Which is why the news media have put it down the memory hole.

  28. A note from the doctor

    Letter to the Editor in The Times, 16 March 2018.

    “Sir, Further to your report (“Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.”

    Stephen Davies, Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.

    The Times reported this in an article on the same day.

  29. Larry
    Thank you on the Palmerston quote. I’d read it otherwise years ago, and clearly the person I’d read it from had it wrong, and it explains why I’ve been unable to find it since, and I go looking for it from time to time.

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