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Saturday, October 19, 2019

M4000 Distraction, point 3: The Curved Rail

October 20, 2019

An in-progress article on Philip Watson's M4000 Distraction got entirely too bloated. Two compound points - 2 and 3 - having sub-sections to detail a cluster of related bad thinking, so they require their own posts. Point 1 on binary sarin and the M4000 also deserves a post and, being its own issue as well, already got that over here. I'm not going to re-name that, but it serves as the split-off exploration behind what becomes point 1 in the M4000 Distraction's list of 13 points of issue. (and note not all 13 are negative - one is fairly positive and a couple are kind of neutral)

The final will include a link to here and a summary of the following under point 3. This dedicated space also allows for any rebuttal or revisions, etc. that I can also consider for the summary.

3) The curved rail
3a The 45° angle "claim" ...
This is another rather stupid point as he should realize by now, but Watson just said he plans to include this point again in his part 4 "Lataminah: Rails, Caps and the M4000" where he'll argue about five things not lining up, be wrong about 4 and the other is of no importance (prediction). But I'm not entirely sure he will plow ahead with this running claim: Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins is a fool for "claiming a 45° angle" in a rail of metal "became a 90° curvature after an impact" in this scrap linked to the Latanmah incident. (tweet) An archived copy below (prior account). 

I don't think Higgins ever did answer, which might leave it seeming like a great question. And as Watson notes, this "rail" is not included in Forensic Architecture modeling for Bellingcat (an issue discussed below), so one would have to visualize the issue on their own. Watson did it very poorly.

As far as I can see, Higgins and/or a graphics assembler at Bellingcat "claimed" the angle became a curve with a box drawn on a graphic. As I'll explain, this never did indicate a straight or angled object. No one ever "said" that in any form. Watson misread a graphic as saying this, and nothing more. He presumed the diagram meant to indicate a long beam along the bottom including the marked bend (roughly in the bent green box in my graphic). But logically, they meant to indicate a circular member (yellow box) that's only indicated at its end (because there its thickness or cross-section is drawn in?). Below, right, a crude drawing tries to over-illustrate the point. See also a 3-D modeled view below.

In case anyone still wonders, it also makes no sense to have a bolted seam along the underside of the chemical tank. That should be welded sealed at all points.

Bellingcat had always described the thing better than that graphic showed it; "metal supports run the circumference of the bomb casing [not the length of it - ed], and one of these metal supports was recovered at Al-Lataminah," shown as the partly circular item in question. He probably saw that, and just dismissed as not their REAL claim, which he already confused himself into ferreting out. Furthermore, researcher Michael Kobs brought it up right away when the issue was first raised in 2018: "This piece is meant to be a ring of the 1.44m circumference..." But Watson rejected that as NOT Higgins' claim or meaning, so not relevant. Then I mentioned it again after seeing this bad reading still used a good clue in his new project. That was almost a year later, but I quoted that "circumference" part as a refresher. He replied "I've no idea of your point Adam, sorry." tweet).
3b ...that trumps all other claims...
When I asked Watson if anyone had tried to explain this before, he acknowledged "They have said it was many things. First Higgins claimed it was a "cross section" to connect the payload body to nose cone. Then Robert Trafford of Forensic Architecture rubbish that saying it was a connecting brace for tail fin. Now it's something else." I'm not sure what "else" it was now, but the prior 2 things are actually, as far as I can tell, two of 3 things it could be, if it's even part of this bomb:

1) the circular band connecting the nose assembly (the square-ish gray shape inside the red indicated corner is a cross-section of that band.) Said to be Higgins claim.

2) the same thing but at the back of the payload tank, attaching the tail assembly, as modeled to pretty convincing effect, IMO. Said to be FA/Trafford view, also shown in Bellingcat graphic

3) and this is intriguing - it could be the middle ring that's meant to hold the dividing plate when one is using the M4000 in its designed, binary mode. I imagine it goes in the slot formed by the ring's unusual shape, as I show here with a red line.

That's not very many things really, when we recall that the 4th "claim" of the bent rail that trumps them all is totally imagined. I consider all three of these possible, and would even add a 4th category for other (but not a bent rail - let's keep at it no one claiming this ever). Watson might find that self-contradictory to consider 4 options, considering how he took options 1 and 2 as exclusive and contradictory answers from a regime-change camp in total disarray.

Back to option 3. If the bomb is re-purposed for unitary fill, be it chemical or conventional explosives, I reason, this divider can also be skipped and its anchoring ring ignored (just like the mixing arm, and whichever of the two fill ports is less convenient). I've been going over this with Michael Kobs, who favors that view, and has leads on the shape of the object seen suggesting it's this middle ring, not one from either end. (so via Kobs or however, that might be the "something else" it's been called). I like where he's is going, and he has a good record. I plan to catch up on that soon.

I had some further thoughts premised on no broken bolts or none torn free. Then I noticed (with the FFM's help) some holes are bit distorted, 3 seem to have broken bolts inside. S/2017/931, Note by the (OPCW) Technical Secretariat, 6 Nov. 2017 (PDF):
"12SDS is similar to a metal rail, approximately 550 mm long, with a square shaped cross section.  It is heavily corroded with eight equally distributed holes visible on one side and traces of grey colour.  Some of the holes still contain broken bolts inside." Indeed, the 3 inside the curve are intact. Such weak bolts (are they even metal?) could be why we see none tearing of the rail.

The two end rings have to be bolted to the nose and tail assemblies for the thing to fall right, or even look right. The middle ring may stay bolt-free if it's in unitary mode and no plate needs held. But that's not certain, and those are the thoughts going forward, where I so far hold any 3 of those is possible, besides for good measure "other."
3c ...and better explains the straight part anyway...
Forensic Architecture responded to Watson's approach about this curved rail they didn't model. One of them even made special slides to illustrate the point for him. One shows how the ring (outlined in light orange) would attach at the back end, which he uses as a banner on his "deception" articles, and which I show below.

He took the images with thanks but contested the assessment; "that piece of metal shows no signs of having ever been the circular shape FA were suggesting it was." Except of course for now, when there's that "almost perfect 90° curvature" he found so laughable, since previously it was straight. Or actually it was straight-ish, but with kind of wiggly edges he maybe didn't notice (below: the green lines are straight and the red ones aren't).
Helpfully, Watson reminds the reader: "a circle has no straight edges," while this piece does have a (fairly) straight section, and he thinks it was that way to begin with; "Had this piece originally been circular then you would expect to see signs of stress on the metal as it was forcibly reshaped." He saw none in a detailed photo from a certain angle, but we can also see it's not really straight (but then the curve isn't really perfect either). And if it had originally been straight but got drastically curved, wouldn't that leave stress marks?
Well, I'm no expert, but maybe stress marks just aren't always that obvious. Or maybe he proposes this was originally a mixed "J" shape like that, for use on something unidentified, and just got mildly warped all around? It's not clear where he intended to go with that.

They also show this alternate view of ostensibly the same item from another angle that really looks different. I don't see just how this correlates with the other views, but 12 SDS is said to be just one piece, not 2 similar ones, and this is a view of it, and it's got the same look at the held, curved end, so … I guess this is his perfectly straight original stretch after all, and it really makes my point about this not being the original shape.

Philip Watson has been informed of his confusion several times, but refuses to heed, and continues to paint this bend-to-curve "claim" as the official and only one from the regime-blame camp that matters. As luck would have it, it's the one reading that's flat ridiculous, and he gets to have an extended giggle-fest over it. They lie very illogically, or so Watson has himself convinced. Or so he just has his reader convinced? Anyone?

3d … and that keeps being "improved on."
Watson expanded on the theme, tweeting "When Eliot Higgins goes full Monty Python" you might see him claiming three such long bent rails ran end-to-end down the bomb's length, each one 550mm long, in a bomb that's only 1470mm in total length. He concludes: "When Eliot meets mathematics it's the mathematics that's wrong." (and that might be worded better.)

But considering my reading above, it seems Higgins was highlighting the three rings (again, one at each end and one around the middle of the central tank), each one indicated with a box of pink dots at the top AND the bottom (so 3 dot-boxes along the top and 3 along the bottom) with each vertical pair indicating one of three "straps used to hold the bomb together." To illustrate, he shows what I'm pretty sure is a different kind of item in the Khan Sheikhoun crater, a thin "strap" I'd say with empty bolt-holes in it (see 35:25 in this video)

Watson saw .... whatever, exactly. But it seems Higgins referred to the 3 support rings, each of which would have a circumference even greater - about 1446mm. What we see in 12 SDS is less than half a ring. Now 3 of these, all straightened back out, would make 4,337mm of railing! How could that all fit in a bomb 1/3 that length in total? Well, it could fit in a 3-D manner that it helps to be able to grasp.

For the aspiring researchers out there, there's a valuable lesson here. If you keep finding clues every ten minutes that no one else has ever run with, and you find your opponents making such patently absurd statements … it's worth pausing to check if YOU'RE not the one who's confused, before you proceed to try running a race with both feet in your mouth.

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