Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Douma Location 2 Explosives Damage, Revisited

July 25, 2021

rough, incomplete

Hilsman "Decoding" the OPCW's "Absence" of Blast Signs

When The Young Turks (Middle-Aged McCarthyites) wanted to refute Aaron Maté's reporting on the 2018 Douma attack and the coverup at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), they turned to Patrick Hilsman, an accomplished journalist from  Syria New Jersey/Brooklyn, but based in Syria who has been to Syria a bit more than Aaron. He's been published at The Intercept, Vice News, and a few paragraphs on the Douma incident at Kurdish website Rudaw. He's also clearly read into the evidence enough to poorly form some opinions well beyond his real knowledge, but always in line with the official OPCW findings in question. These findings were apparently guided by US diktats communicated over the summer: find for an Assad chlorine attack, which they did against most evidence (Counterpunch). See as needed Hilsman's TYT segment Decoding Syria's 2018 Chemical Attacks w/ Patrick Hilsman - YouTube where he brags of rebelling against US diktats by knowing even before that that this was an Assad chlorine attack. All in all it's not the stupidest thing I've seen, but definitely fails in the face of the "disinformation" host Ana Kasparian bemoaned for clouding public confidence in the laundered US diktats. 

Among the points Hilsman raised is the OPCW finding of no explosive fragmentation pattern at the pivotal Location 2. At 23:40 as he second-guesses OPCW engineering expert Ian Henderson, he explains "the OPCW's comment was that it would be unusual for a hole like that to not have any fragmentation pattern." They never did explain that well, but he describes this telltale sign as a "splash pattern" caused by the radial ejection of fragments or shrapnel - he says in Bosnia the marks are called "Sarajevo roses." As we'll see below, that's one KIND of mark one will see. And as he says in Douma "there was no splash pattern" (visible, anyway) so he thinks there was no mortar strike and the falling gas cylinder caused all the other damage we see. 

As the OPCW's Fact-Finding Mission (FFM)'s final report S/1731/2019 (1 March 2019) clearly states:

The FFM analysed the damage on the rooftop terrace and below the crater in order to determine if it had been created by an explosive device. However, this hypothesis is unlikely given the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation characteristic of an explosion that may have created the crater and the damage surrounding it.

Official-Series Document (opcw.org) (Annex 6, point 8) 

Primary fragmentation (direct "shrapnel") and secondary fragmentation (pieces of concrete, etc. hurled by the blast wave) were totally lacking from the terrace and the crater. That's what they say, and we're supposed to believe it. But the visuals were never clear in agreeing, as I argued in some detail here back in 2019: Douma Location 2 Explosives Damage? (the question mark is barely warranted, but there for good form). As Scott Lucas and Robert Campbell have had to admit (see that post), there IS primary fragmentation at least. No one disputes this: they're fragments or figments, depending who you ask, and they ain't figments. The backup position offered so far (Lucas, Campbell) is that they're from some other blast, not the one some us suspect occurred right here. 

Aaron Maté for one saw the marks as relevant, but when he rebutted Hilsman on Jimmy Dore's show, he forgot to address it, as noted later: "This is a very important point that I forgot to make in my rebuttal. This false claim re: no fragmentation was made in the TYT interview, but I don't think we played that clip on Jimmy's show, so I didn't get a chance to respond."

Hilsman likewise sees an actual presence of marks but takes the prevailing view that they don't matter. His specific issue remains that the pattern of holes is too far away from that crater, and that's what the FFM must have meant; an "absence" of such marks could be better put as an "excessive distance" or a "presumed irrelevance." 

FWIW he didn't adopt this view recently - he was saying this since 2019; He saw the images then and had that answer. Again in June 2021 Spy Macaque showed him the secondary frag marks and bent rebar just below the crater, and the heavily marked west wall which was "the wrong wall" and so SM showed him the other 3 walls marked (see below for best detail yet). Hilsman replied to that with the same OPCW quote and an image of the lower south and west walls being unmarked, as if the visuals were self-evident: "This is the crater in question and the wall they were referring to in the OPCW response to Russian questions. That’s embarrassing stupid of you?"

As I'll explain, Hilsman is too stupid to be embarrassed at his own ignorance here. The common person doesn't get it either, but the wise ones know not to claim expertise and belittle others from that uncertain platform.

He said the OPCW denied these marks in response to some meddlesome Russian questions. But more to the point, they're disputing their own better process and the findings of their original engineering sub-team. Ian Henderson, at least one other dedicated person comprising the FFM's Engineering Sub-Team, and consulted engineering experts reportedly agreed in seeing "an (unusually elevated, but possible) fragmentation pattern on the upper walls." It's not clear really if this refers to the upper terrace wall or to the upper wall of the room below or to both of them - "walls" is plural, while "pattern" is singular. 

WikiLeaks - 20190227-Engineering-assessment-of-two-cylinders-observed-at-the-Douma-incident

Getting the Joke

Here's a side-view diagram relating the frag patterns only at the top of the south walls, right below the corner impact and below the crater. As we'll see below, the elevation difference isn't so great across that whole wall or on the other walls - this here is the worst it gets.

Specifically the FFM looked for a possible blast "that may have created the crater." The primary marks are some distance away and were apparently discounted on those grounds, but the secondary-looking marks just below the crater ... also don't exist for some reason I've never seen even Hilsman address. 

Notice they don't say an explosion is unlikely given the selective 90-130-degree bending of rebar or the spalling (ceiling cracks caused by shockwaves in the rebar grid) - both noted by Henderson/EST/experts, and impossible to refute. The "absence" or presumed irrelevance of the frag marks was their go-to issue on this point. It's Hilsman's choice as well when it's time to divorce the evidence. And on the strength of that divorce, he set out a clever trap:

PH: "Can’t wait for @aaronjmate  to upload a photo of the upper wall of Location 2. in Douma which is nowhere near the area the OPCW was referring to in the source documents I used." 

He had these images side-by-side (with another showing undamaged low wall, and the OPCW's un-decoded "absence" quote again). I couldn't wait either. When Aaron didn't bother, I tried to spring his trap myself to see what happened.

Me: "AGAIN. OPCW SAID no frag marks. Photos prove a) cropping the damage off a photo makes it not exist, OR b) the upper wall w/super-obvious frag marks is "nowhere near" the terrace crater. Pat? I don't get the joke yet." At the time, I really didn't. Aaron went with option a, the funnier joke - but the wrong one. As we would establish, it was a video frame, not cropped, and was meant to SHOW something not hide something. But it was a stupid thing he wanted to show - option b, "nowhere near." I say it's stupid because of things I know, but decided to brush up on. See below.

He's said before "The blast damage would be immediately next to the hole" and Later: the marks should be "near the bottom." Kostja Marschke came in to agree: "I mean, the damage to the wall is 2 meters above the hole. At ground level, there is none. That's the entire point."

Starting assumption: if these fragmentation marks are relevant, they should come from the crater in the terrace floor. That's not an insane start point; Henderson's report somehow didn't CLEARLY consider these primary marks, and did suggest a detonation right at the terrace floor (scorching inside seemed connected). And Hilsman thinks the shell also would "have blasted the room below with fragmentation" besides marking the bottom the wall above. It might do one, the other, or both, depending on impact angle. And we can see it did hurl fragments in that room, but the secondary type ... almost as if the primary fragments were already released a bit before that. Hm... 

He had apparently never tried to see it how I always did, and finally showed more clearly in this image:


PH: "Ah the blast damage in the area that isn’t being referenced by the OPCW. It could be any large explosive being dropped in the area."

PH: "It could easily come from any number of explosives being set off in the immediate vicinity, but it clearly didn’t come from the hole Henderson incorrectly identified as a high explosive crater."

PH: "I think the patterns are clearly from explosives and clearly not originating from either hole."

Now that he had a chance to consider this corner impact, it also "clearly" didn't fit  - because there were no frag marks right next to it, at the top of the wall where they should be? No, because there are. In this case, his issue was a new one: 

"That wall would be marked all the way up if it was a mortar blast, it wouldn’t be pristine at the bottom. Also that would have blasted the room below with fragmentation... it’s insane that anyone would use this as counter-evidence."

Non-adjusted thinking clues: "all the way UP" means he's still thinking up from the crater, not down from where we are. And how is he still so sure it would keep spraying fragments past the roof penetration into room below? That becomes much less likely. 

This seems like a laughable flip-flop, but maybe just the final sentence qualifies as truly clown-grade. In fact, if we take BOTH impacts as related, there is a spatial separation between the key signs - primary fragmentation right off at corner impact, no more marks or scorching evident lower down on the terrace walls or floor - which makes sense in itself, as we'll see - but then a fresh-seeming blast wave right at that crater, passing around some upper rebar but splaying out the lower layers up to 130 degrees and causing the secondary fragmentation evidenced on the south and west walls there (see below). 

Scorching: if this damage were weeks-years old, the initial soot could have all rinsed down in the rain. Its absence is not a clue either way.

Henderson/EST/consulted experts took these marks as a relevant pattern would be "unusual" but still "possible." The distance does seem to be an issue as it did to them. Maybe a 2-stage weapon was used, if that's even possible (I think so?), or perhaps this is the result of 2 strikes somehow blending, or maybe it's all explicable within the known behavior of terrace-contained blast waves centering on the line of travel, etc. The last one seems plausible to me, and is my best guess.

Hilsman cannot offer a plausible explanation. He's offered this vicinity blast but, as I'll show, that fails on 3 principles: 

P1: the main radial disc of fragments or resultant band or arc of frag marks is usually perpendicular to the weapon's angle of impact, 

P2: the fragments will spread laterally and vertically from the weapon so closer surfaces are marked more densely than distant ones, 

P3: considering P1 and P2, fragmentation marks aren't always low, or always dense, and will only mark a wall top-to-bottom given enough distance from it.

I suspect this could all be explained more efficiently, but this is what I've got. To clarify how Patrick Hilsman doesn't know what he's talking about, and to clarify an otherwise crucial issue, let us labor the point.

Exploring Core Principles via Images

I set out to quickly explain this with visuals, but found I needed to find some better examples first. Principle P0 on my list of 3: these things vary, and not all scenes tell a clear story 

Starting with a photo Hilsman says he's used, from Sarajevo, and featuring what they call there a "rose." I say sunburst, but it's red here, as if painted, or as if the underlayer is red ... on the concrete and the lower wall ... I guess they painted it. The radial lines are oblique fragment impacts with hard pavement. The rocket or shell must have just cleared that shed's roof.  Aimed at the center of that red circle and apparently detonating a bit before impact with the ground, the downward-pointing fragments would hit the ground in a pattern like this.

I learned about these things from images in Ukraine, mainly Mariupol Jan. 2015 - a twisted little episode. I got the reading the clues well enough to roughly agree with reading from pros at the OSCE and others.

Some basics here from expert Roly Evans, mainly these pavement marks, and largely as seen in post-Maidan Ukrainse. Donetsk: red arrow shows "direction from which the submunition impacted." Like a compass rose, the apex of the sunburst points to the launcher. See also in Evans' report side view diagrams of probable fragment dispersion for different weapons - all pretty similar, like the center of the fat disc I draw below. Mortar shell, rocket, at least some bombs all operate of the same basic idea.


It's true no such rose or sunburst pattern is evident on that terrace in Douma, but the floor isn't that well seen, and it seems to be a different kind of impact anyway - either a more vertical one, or one that happened well before it even touched the terrace floor. So this aspect is not crucial ... it's the frags that didn't hit the ground that  relate - the ones making shrapnel pockmarks in the wall, and the roughly horizontal or slightly angled band of heavier ones in the middle. 

Visualize an explosive shell or bomb as drawn below, dropped straight down like that from a helicopter. See essentially a cylinder of explosives set on that vertical line, then metal bits packed around that, inside the outer casing. At detonation, the frags fly out radially in all directions (see a fat disc radiating out), with some spread up and down as well (disc with fat edges sloping to a thinner center). Whatever's in that zone gets hit. Details will vary with weapon design and impact particulars, and no complete grasp will be gotten here, but ...

Principle P1: the main fragment ejection is perpendicular to the weapon's central axis / direction of travel. Here the bomb is going off before impact (proximity fuze). 

And principle P2 is clarified here: generally closer surfaces will get a narrower band of marks, compared to a distant wall, where the vertical spread has increased. So denser marks = closer to detonation, and an entire wall won't be coated with marks top-to-bottom without adequate space for vertical spread. And there will be more spread than shown here. Next pictured adds some rays, mainly forward (see next point).

There's no angle shown there, but turn that bomb and its disc clockwise some degrees an you'll see more fragments hitting the ground to the right, and the upper wall might go totally unmarked, while the left wall will be marked higher up. Here it comes in about 45 degrees, underside frags hitting the ground only, forward-facing ones marking a wall lightly from halfway up, heavily at the top, and mainly overshooting the wall. The ones radiating in all other directions of that disc would fill the arcs between these positions, hitting whatever filled that space.

There are usually quite a few marks widely scattered past the central band, I suppose more in the direction of travel. In an interesting 2008 study, small, improvised explosive shells (cylindrical plastic explosive encased in 2 half-shells) were set off amid a 4m wide semi-ring of upright metal plates, and then detonated. One test used 2mm thick aluminum alloy and mild steel. The other used 6 mm mild steel and hard steel casings. Guess which is which.

When the plates were analyzed they showed at 2 meters distance a central band of denser marks with a decent spread above and below. This runs further in the upward direction, with a few hitting the very top (and thus maybe outside the set ring). That, I presume, is due to the shell's pointed shape, so the greater spread would usually be in the forward direction). 

We don't need to worry about which direction of spread is greater - simply remember lighter fragmentation happens some above and some below the middle band, but only so far. And we're looking for entire bands below, and sometimes will only see the heavier central marks.

In a straight-down impact in the middle of a 4-walled courtyard - or scaled down, a terrace like in Douma - this radial spray means the walls will be most heavily marked in a horizontal band all around, and at the same level (near the bottom usually, depending on trigger type and mainly on distance to the walls). 

In an angled impact set in the same space, the fragments in the down-angled half of the disc marks the pavement with that sunburst pattern, (maybe entirely in the middle fragments will mark the direction TO the launcher), more oblique and less fully at the edges where some heavier frags will pass low, maybe hitting peoples' legs, while the up-angled half sprays in an arc from left & low to straight ahead & high to right & low (like the sun's track across the sky) - to the extent it's clear at all. 

Here that can be seen in Mariupol, 2015: asunburst points us forward, and not so far ahead on both sides we can see dense marks visible in the mid-near upslope, to higher up and too dispersed to make out well in the distance ahead. (sources: videostill

The same video with another impact showing the angled central band of fragments clearer: 

So principle P3: the fragment band won't be simply "low" even in a ground impact. Forward-facing fragments may hit quite high in a shallow-angle impact. Michael Kobs had another great view, also from post-freedom Ukraine of a house marked with a clear arc across 2 planes. Basically the spot with the highest consistent frag marks is forward on this rocket's trajectory. 

In each of these examples, the walls are variously "pristine" or lightly marked at the top over here, the bottom over there, etc. depending where the arc of damage falls. If these aren't rocket/mortar attacks because the walls aren't completely marked, then what are they? Some other rocket attack in the "immediate vicinity," by Hilsman's reasoning. But that makes no sense where the marks are close and defined (see P2)

Applying P3 to Douma, those upper marks could be from the forward arc in being high (with side angle on the west even agreeing) but P2 suggests those are too dense to fit even the vertical distance involved.  And the marks are seen clustered near the top of that wall, and more so the closer they get to THE OTHER damage (red, just past impacted corner). P2: frag marks will be densest nearest detonation, and here we have them narrowing to the spot where something hit forcefully. 

The implication seems pretty clear. Now what again did PH propose? 

Scenarios Considered

For each proposed impact point (crater, corner), I sketch in profile 3 spread patterns to test: 1) marks cover the entire wall, 2 the bottom only (and/or the room below) 3) the top only. Vicinity impact below only tests top of wall as seen.

What I deem a correct scenario is boxed in blue. This means I agree with Hilsman that IF this shell initially hit the terrace floor - from the left at a steep vertical angle - we'd see low marks. Otherwise we'd see slightly higher marks or none at all, depending on angle and such. (Not shown for upper corner, scenario 3 - blast wave might continue into the room below, as seems likely.)

Vicinity impact: Principle P2 says this great distance with roughly zero vertical spread makes no sense; there's a narrow band only, and a bit over the roof. As the 3D view below shows, the only remotely close surfaces are lower, so an upward angle is needed. Thusly, the north wall might provide shielding for half or more of the south wall. But then for the impacting fragments to be so closely packed this far out makes little sense. 

As for "immediate vicinity" - according to Forensic Architecture's modeling, there's not much for surfaces nearby. Some shells can go off in the open air at any point, as far as I know. But usually, we think of them hitting something, then detonating. Gold star at what seemed a best fit for vicinity blast to mark both the south and west walls (never mind east and north). Compare to red-marked area where it probably had to happen, circled corner it probably happened right next to.

This will be his best bet, and still not a very good one: a mid-air blast a bit inside this terrace space at the right angle (any that can be shown?) to leave the seen marks and no other sign (so the chlorine cylinder can illogically claim all those signs for its own impact). 

Because again all 4 inner walls were marked. This blast location is boxed in pretty tight, and Hilsman is only denying the obvious here.

Douma Image Review: Frag Pattern 360

Using the best images I had or quickly found, I compiled the following 6 plates - one per terrace wall, another for the west wall, and one for the room below - comparing different views and establish definite and probably frag marks and overall patterns - noting some possible marks, leaving some unmarked when there are so many ... clearly at least 2 sizes of fragment: maybe a couple thousand very tiny ones, and just several dozen heavier ones are evident.  

Note: perhaps zero sign of the original impact fireball remains - age of impact unknown, likely long ago. Scorch marks would have long ago rinsed down in the rain. 

Smoke has coated the room below and the cylinder's then-underside, as we know, from a fire deliberately set below for disputed reasons centering around the cylinder and efforts to toxify or detoxify the site. The smoke seen on the west wall below seems to be from that same fire, venting up through a ventilation tube - circular opening visible inside the cracked-away facade in the corner.

East wall: very small marks predominate, some large ones lower down, maybe shell casing w/greater weight - some larger marks right above what was the cloth-covered wire canopy, which is now shredded above and tangled below (some odd cleanup that was done immediately, with debris buckets and such). That seems to have weakened the imprints below. Larger fragments lacking, plus so high-centers, plus other wall patterns suggest the bulk and biggest fragments overshot this wall. Some unusual effect of the fragment composition? (heavier ones mainly in the back? Seems to fit with the other walls)

that corner hit corresponds with some missing fragments - besides over the east wall, maybe some peppered these impacted rooms - but not recently, that we heard about.

South wall: the sharply defined part seems to have less high-resolution views than the other walls - light marks app. absent at far left, then present down to mid-window, heavy marks well above, to and even past the roofline - and on the right side of the window (in which just one impact is roughly locatable), they continue less clearly but seeming lower, with heavy marks now down to upper-window level. Dark blue and purple boxes for reference. Light blue: one mark that's worsened by Dec. 2019.

West wall: from the "pristine" bottom at the SW corner, the point gets less clear as we enhance and then expand our view. I didn't dot general marks here, but we can see the lighter forward ones run about halfway down the west wall from its start. Bottom is a quick composite of a composite w/discontinuous bits. But these are all correlated overall. These color-coded feature matches might allow a precise full-wall rendering for 3D modeling purposes. 

Upper and outer west wall ... heavy marks start at the very top, and at the north end line up roughly with the railing at the north wall. Lighter marks spread almost to the floor.

North wall: picks up from west wall with denser low marks (maybe a less oblique angle here?) - some odd marks and lack of marks here at the middle and east. If the target were a sniper or other local at that low wall with a great view to the north, can we see where his body absorbed the fragments instead of the wall? Yeah, maybe. 

Secondary Frag Marks: ... clear and sharp marks in red, possible, as visible in pink. I used plasma screen tilting to see a few in the too-dark and too-light areas, up to a point. Hence they fall off where it's too light or dark - that's not the full pattern. South wall is the one well-marked. West wall is too oblique to read well, east wall too far, and not clearly marked at all (a few holes appear, but they seem manmade, to mount things, etc. Some of these look sharp enough they might be the primary marks Hilsman expected from a crater impact. Could it be? I don't think so. There are no corresponding marks right above - except at the north wall (hmmm...) - and this alone is too few. Possibly extra-sharp, well-propelled secondary fragments, or perhaps a second detonation (? I think there are shells that do this) or possibly somehow all this comes from two different events somehow blending together.



Side-stuff on getting there:

Helping out Aaron after I set him up to laugh too soon, I finally added June 26: "Sorry, the answer, I think He didn't mean to deny any damages, just to show a big span with no frag marks. The discussion now is showing how he doesn't grasp this stuff, and can't offer a rational alternate. Evolving: a redux of Lucas, Campbell here https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2019/05/douma-location-2-explosives-damage.html  - Or basically "Yeah those are explosive fragmentation marks ... But it's DEFINITELY not from the shell Henderson, the Russians or anyone else meant." Now I think we can laugh again.

It took a bit to clarify that, including some prodding from Michael Kobs as well, like this:  "You have to ignore ALL OF IT to assume the cylinder caused it. Try Occam's razor! If you find two bodies 5m next to each other with knife wounds but next to one of them lies a straw on the street, you wouldn't assume that this one was killed by a straw, would you?" (me: "clearly, it depends on details like whose straw and LOOK FASCISM!")

Again Hilsman cites OPCW no marks, shows wall bottom: "Actually the OPCW says so too." 

Me: "They didn't say so at first, but some people were removed from the probe, some things got deleted, etc. There was some controversy about that. But in the end, text says no frag marks. I guess you win. Or getting close yet, hopefully? Whaddya think?" 

No reply there. Somewhere else: Me: "So what were you trying to get at with that thing about stuff being nowhere near stuff? You couldn't wait to see that pic, from Aaron you hoped. What next?" Then I got "That wall would be marked all the way up" and it was insane to think otherwise, etc. Ok, decoding decoded.

Further reference: Hilsman's oft-promoted thread proudly based on just what OPCW wrote (if decoded a bit): https://twitter.com/PatrickHilsman/status/1407030283585658886

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Jackson Hinkle vs. Vaush V. Douma Debate

July 20, 2021 
rough, incomplete

Jackson Hinkle-Vaush V. debate between 2 people I've barely or never heard of because I don't get out much, but I'm at these CW cases when I'm not out, so I see them when they pop in ... Back on July 9, and it's still percolating. 

The video from Hinkle's end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIh5qLnMW-0 It's 3 hours plus, including some intro, and a lot I didn't watch after Vaush rage-quit only halfway in, over the "freaking out" people on video allegedly being alleged to be "crisis actors" - when they're actually figments of his imagination and vague memory. See below. 

It was fairly terrible, so I actually just skimmed the middle and end of this 1.5-hour barrage of Vaush burping "tell me.. tell me..." then as Jackson's trying to tell him, it's "which report ... which report ..." and there's only one damned report in discussion usually, and only so many time he really needs to scold Hinkle for supposedly saying it wrong. He cuts into almost every sentence to repeat these nonsense objections and hopefully break the opponent's train of thought.  And then again when Jackson tries to start answering halfway through a long post-question lecture, it's "are you going to listen?" 

Or sometimes not doesn't really answer, or is still trying to answer a question from a few back ... some conflating of what Vaush says to "video of a helicopter dropping the bomb," which he never did say. Etc. Less shouting would've be better on both sides, but what a douche, that Vaush. They both manage to be quiet sometimes, but Hinkle does it more sincerely. Neither won very well, but at least one of them seems genuinely driven by concern for truth and justice, and reasonably in tune with the few facts and the many open questions related to that. The other has some serious overall data analysis problems that naturally retard his analysis here.

All this muck for minutes on end and just too little for solid ground between - it stays swampy as far as I could watch - about halfway so far. but made enough waves it seems worth weighing in finally for anyone who feels the questions weren't answered.

1:26:30 Vaush says you can't question findings - even ridiculous ones like this - without providing what he accepts as a reasonable explanation. In other words, he says you can't do it, period. If it wasn't an attack, there has to be another reason behind the evidence. Both agreed at 1:26:36. But for a layman to have to say just what happened before you can consider there's a problem - and he doesn't seem to have even considered that yet - is just cowardly. Even I still can't be certain just what happened.

core points for Vaush, maybe reading off a list prepared by Patrick Hilsman, who had offered to help him brush up (the vision-impaired leading the blind):

* corpses were found with foam in their mouths

* people saw a helicopter over the city 

* how did the canisters get there at loc 2 and 4 

* why is there damage that's consistent w/the aerial deployment of these canisters, noting "no shrapnel" nearby

These are covered below in a different order with other points worked in. The foam one is maybe best/most important, but it's covered last. 

Hole in the Roof:

One Hinkle mess-up of some worry: a clip I saw on Twitter, from Vaush's end, showed Jackson citing the open/broken windows, building size, and hole at the ceiling as limits on chlorine accumulation. Broken windows could allow gas to escape, or set as high as they are, might as well let in a breeze that could affect the flow either way. Hard to say. The hole in the roof ... well, the gas wouldn't drift UP to go out that. Suggested: he doesn't (clearly, consistently) get that chlorine is well heavier than air and almost always just sinks. Vaush apparently did get this basic point and took pleasure in that (but to me the glee suggests new knowledge, like maybe a bit some coach just told him of). I don't take pleasure in seeing that. But in fact, that hole is how the gas got in (or would have got in, considering the dispute), from the roof-balcony the cylinder had been set on. 

Vaush then mentions the size of the building to clarify how far away the basement was from the hole (something about hearing/response), which adds to Hinkle's points; it would have to fill the 3rd floor, down the stairs to the 2nd floor, and down more to the ground floor, maybe out some windows on the way, then ENTIRELY OUT INTO THE STREET, before it could even possibly drift back down to the basement before anyone would smell it. 

That's an important detail of the building design, as also shown in any photo or video of the entrance, in the NYT-FA modeling, etc. Gas spread sketched onto that at right. Then the people take basically the exact reverse course, escaping the site then fleeing right back inside, only to be carried out stiff the next day. 

There was much noise about a video of... whatever - it got disputed. 1:33:30 If he knew the evidence well, Hinkle might have ridiculed it less and decoded what video Vaush refers to, poorly described at location 2 w/the "bomb" seen lodged in the hole. No drop shown, but poorly implied. Not a secret video - OP on Twitter still available. Cylinder here: already resting on/near the oddly placed metal slats and the intact rebar, apparently white on the underside from frost, due to active gas release - (this is still debated, but that's my take. In fact, it looks to be mostly empty by this time).

That's how I knew what he meant, but otherwise, he describes it all wrong. People "freaking out" makes you think hospital staged drama scene. But this video also shows activists "freaking out" and shouting at seeing the victims, who are all long dead. We only see that they are laying in creepy piles with bizarre facial stains and upsetting foam, as if they'd all been turned super-weird at the end, OR as if something else weird is going on. Seems to be filmed 10PM, 2.5 hours after the alleged attack. 

Vaush recalls it seeming like the victims - the same ones later seen dead - were filmed "freaking out" at the site they never left, as if the cylinder had just hit, and he can't believe they were crisis actors because the same exact people are later seen dead. The video exists, but there was NO SUCH ACTING in it, real or fake. All 35 are dead before first views. He really has a fuzzy take on these things.

people saw a helicopter

And we know because they said so. One even said he saw it drop a gas cylinder, which he saw falling, with "green" gas already pouring out as it fell. People say all kinds of things. More to the point, a helicopter was app. tracked somehow from Dumayr airbase. But I think that's all just organized claims by "spotters" - if there was a radar track, no one has shown its flight track passing over this building - probably because it gave the craft an alibi. Now we can't say for sure. Does the damage even suggest it?

how did the canisters get there?

The one he kept harping on - "Did they like look around for buildings that looked like they had been recently shelled and ran up there with like an empty gas canister and like dropped it there and like nobody saw this?"

Hinkle never did answer this very well. You say "my speculation" and toss out your maybes. But best answer here would've been: Yeah, basically. They like looked around for buildings that looked like they had been recently shelled and ran up there with like a full gas canister, with harness in one case (and not at loc 2), and like dropped it there and like nobody saw this, or they saw and didn't say, or were shot or arrested. 

Seriously - militants running Douma with an iron fist can't possibly CARRY a HEAVY ITEM that any 2 strong men COULD carry with some effort - and ok sure, they could but to also avoid the scrutiny of the few, largely sympathetic locals who remained... like they have some vibrant opposition media out filming all their actions and freely posting it ... also makes enough sense. Those are serious mental blockades in his mind, but obviously not in reality. They're mid-scale issue that would need resolved, and quite likely were, with no appeal to magic required. More related thoughts worked in below.

Henderson used bad measurements

56:30 Ian Henderson may have been there, but based his sketch for loc. 4 on other's work, and measured the cylinders wrong from a drawing. Vaush says, Jackson knows how wrong that is and duly laughs. The man says, and it hasn't been disputed, that he LED THE VISIT TO and MEASUREMENTS OF that site for the FFM, and also visited the place the cylinders were stored, measuring them directly. (UNSC testimony). He didn't get to location 2 is all. The later experts ... didn't go to any sites, worked off who knows what, and got a different and wrong size, apparently fudging all kinds of details to produce some ridiculous images.

Henderson didn't say no attack?

This came up. Henderson's report didn't rule out airdrop. It said manual placement was more likely. It seems professionally understated, but it's what he says. And it is. If Vaush thinks that can still be an "attack" ... clearly not by government forces, and clearly not the same "attack" everyone else means. Where the hell would he be going with that? Manual placement means fakery, which means "how then DID these people die?" and that, I think is the question Henderson was pissed off to see papered over. But otherwise...

damage consistent w/airdrop?

Jackson Hinkle starting out right: Don't explain what's not true. "It wasn't consistent ..." and then he's mega-interrupted and derailed. Indeed: loc 2 cylinder has some deformation, but not the right kind and degree to fit the alleged impact. And the scene has clear primary fragmentation marks - despite the FFM report assuring us there was absence of them. 

Exploration: https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2019/05/douma-location-2-explosives-damage.html 

Everyone agrees that's what these are, and the "shrapnel" will be buried in those holes. Some say it's from other damage somewhere else (Patrick Hilsman, recently for one) - but look at that narrow band - it's tight, having radiated very little from very nearby - on the other walls the marks are a bit more spread out but still dense. And they appear on all 4 of these inner walls (but just barely on the east wall, mostly overshot due to impact angle that puts frags low on the west and north walls. This is from a mortar shell (or similar) impacting that damaged balcony corner where the cylinder supposedly hit, perhaps to kill a sniper at the low north wall who was slowing someone's advance, at some point. 

Realize Jaysh al-Islam inspired a lot of rebellion, which they always crushed. Battles happened here over the years. Government forces hadn't really been in Douma sniper scopes since late 2012, until the end ... no Army push this far into town prior to the surrender, nor even likely within mortar range. Maybe this was a holdout of the Douma Martyr's Brigade of Commander Bakriyeh? 1/3 of the people found dead here had that family name. Some, most, or all of the others were related by blood or marriage. Hm.

explored: https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2018/05/bakriyeh-family-deaths.html 

OK corner hit, detonation, disc-shaped spray of fletchettes/fragments, Then an explosive crater below that, centered on its path - upper rebar passed around by the blast wave, but the lower layer, less deeply set, was able to flay out ~130deg t the window side, and concrete sprayed almost sideways into the upper walls - hence we have secondary fragmentation marks (another thing the FFM denied for us). "spalling" is from shockwaves in the rebar grid. NO MECHANICAL OBJECT GOING THUNK WILL EXLAIN ALL THIS.  

There is quite widespread rubble that appears old - household items and a small fire have been set on top of it. The fire MAY have been to melt out the fusible plug in the valve and release the gas, though it's been snapped off by first views (can't see if it's missing the plug or smoke-coated, or gone from the start - plug issue explained here w/some other good points). 

Anyone who doesn't get any of these points probably shouldn't run with those scissors. And I don't have time here to explain them all, but a mention ... some more links filled in later, optional follow-up ... etc. Hinkle mentioned James Harkin and an expert's issue of that valve snapping too cleanly. I don't know. I suspect it was done later on, but can't really say. Not a headline issue. Fuck James Harkin. He's a hack. The article has a few good points anyway (the OPCW inspector he talked to still makes sense in general).

Loc 4: noticing recently unclear damage, app. no frag marks (?), maybe related to a collapsed wall of the neighboring building - lots of rubble all over the roof w/no other good explanation (new area, unsettled). The hole is too small, if only by a bit, to allow the cylinder with the unprotected valve and displaced harness testified by the harness deformation - as shown by Henderson, who again LED THE VISIT TO and MEASUREMENTS OF that site for the FFM (UNSC testimony). Also Michael Kobs had modeled it just the same prior to that. Besides too short, the hole is kind of too wide as well. They picked a good pre-made hole, but these things only get so good.

Still I can see debating the size and angle as reasonable. It looks to have hit solid earth somewhere, but just the roof then the floor could fit in even reasonable minds. It was apparently placed on the bed, a bounce as alleged making little sense considering the vertical fall alleged to bounce so far laterally, and it's quite a high bounce and not on a very straight line - at least to the shower, then headboard - the curved footboard appears scraped-up as if it hit there too, or like as they tripped into the shower the guy holding that end dropped it, but in a controlled way so it slid into the bed frame instead of his toes. (note the same curve was already there in the footboard design - its the dust-catching scratches that stand out). 

We also have a chipped door jamb, recently it seems something heave was dropped on it. The stairs have rusty scrapes, perhaps old, and some fresh-looking chips (images around widely, but from Russian TV). Also someone, at some time, may have taken those flayed-out bits of the harness and tied them more snugly with some rusty wire - at least one stretch with some sharp custom bends and curves is left lazily resting there. Huh. That could help make it more portable. Some thoughts, anyway.  

No Attack? Gas Release?

And interestingly, this one apparently had its valve manually opened and closed at least twice before inspectors got there, Note in these 3 sequential images over several days the distinct chlorine colored stain (top) turns brown when it oxidizes (middle, and old/continuous drips on the moved pillow were already brown) - then there's more green all at once on top of that, and the bed has collapsed, and the metal harness is far more rusted than it was - when inspectors arrived, they found it like that but a bit browner, NOT then leaking, yet still half full a week later. Clearly it's not a speed of release issue but a FREQUENCY of release issue. 

Brown, chlorine coated disposable gloves were found just outside the door - too flimsy to have been from the carrying, but some later handling of a sticky, gas-coated part, like the valve - app. the lead-zinc type. These were tested and yielded one of the highest "background" levels for chlorinated compounds found AND reported by the FFM:

Gloves from stairs
chloride: 17,000, ppm (IC)
zinc: 1,500 ppm (ICP-MS)

A point that's hard to get, even for Aaron Mate, or even for may of my more involved colleagues, let alone Jackson Hinkle: chlorine was apparently released. Why lug these up there and then fail to just open the valve? But we hear only normal, trace levels were found, and so the embarrassing levels were just omitted. But if that was the finding, it raises some questions what else we're seeing at right, and it was outright replaced with some rather high levels - about what I'd expect going by the visuals. And the camera still doesn't lie. So ... what? It's an issue, even if no one else agrees with me on that. 

Exploration: Monitor on Massacre Marketing: OPCW Whistleblower: Chlorine Levels (libyancivilwar.blogspot.com)

Is it possible someone way back misread parts per million as parts per billion, and that just got set in stone for Whelan and whoever else? Or did they compare the background samples to normal background levels? (we hear there were no background samples, but ... what else is going on there? Or at location 2 with some high results too, and that frosting cylinder?)

Even if one doesn't get that point - most don't - I still advise caution on "no attack" claims meaning no gas release. If this is "background levels," fine, but it might be irrelevant, as it seems to me like the levels you get releasing a lot of chlorine - the level that could even be fatal ... depending on some important details.

Why are people there with foam in their mouths? 

Mr. Vaush V suggests because chlorine. And it can cause this, but ... he doesn't get just how. Simple stuff: all it does is turn to hydrochloric acid on contact with water. Everything else follows. No paralysis, no nerve agent, convulsions, sudden death, numbness, or unconsciousness usually occur. In the concentrations expected, at worst it would badly burn their eyes and lungs. The damage slowly causes mucous production and perhaps bleeding in the airways - edema fluids that BEGINS building seriously ~30 minutes or more and usually worsens only gradually over some hours. This would blend fluids and air (in & out streams randomly mixed) into bubbles that would pile up deeper over each breath, forming into a foam. As gas exchange is disrupted and oxygen levels drop low, the victim will feel fatigue, a nasty headache, etc. from cerebral hypoxia. But this takes a while.

The pulmonary edema gets fatal usually several hours after exposure, but then most exposure is brief. As the OPCW's first try experts had said (redacted June meeting, leaked minutes), the kind of extreme foam seen usually takes more than 4 hours to develop (more than the 3-4 hours they were given as attack-to-images timespan - but it was really more like 2.5 to 3 hours). And they may have referred to the usual onetime exposure before escape. In a post-WWI study, all deaths that were observed at field hospitals happened around "the end of the second hour after exposure" or later, and "usually death did not occur until after the lapse of several hours." Although some acute cases killed on the battlefield were unknown, 90 minutes to death was guessed. (MacPherson et al 1923 p. 181?) 

Now if people chose to stay and keep breathing it ... or were somehow trapped with it ... concentrations greater than 430 PPM are often fatal within 30 minutes of constant exposure (PHR). That's high but maybe possible in Douma (maybe not ... don't quote me on that). A death that quick is unlikely with the degree of foam seen, and probably with the very little blood that's seen. But perhaps.

The question the deniers can't answer well is WHY these people sat there suffocating in pain and terror, or "freaking out," watching their kids do the same, for 30-60-90 minutes until dead. I could be more philosophical about that if I'd made myself watch the whole 90-minute Hinkle-Vaush debate, but it just ups my point: I skipped much, got what I needed, and escaped the toxic place. 

As soon as the Douma victims felt the burning, they'd want to escape. They weren't trapped and wouldn't be paralyzed. If it was too dark or they were gas-blinded (sometimes your eyes close and you just can't open them), they could feel their way out. If shelling, they would take their chances, wait for a gap etc. Usually, everyone leaves the scene for fresh air, and nobody dies. Precedent (my own work, feel free to use):

In WWI they all tried to escape the gas, braving enemy fire, but the gas spanned maybe for miles. Most died in field hospitals but some in the gas. Some shot themselves. One cut his own throat to speed it up (MacPherson et al. p.394). These folks in Douma ... they ran outside, back in, up deeper into the gas and then, instead of reversing course to go back outside, activist "Abu Homam" said “we believe they tried to rinse themselves in vain. Eventually they must have realised it was over so they drew closer together and died." (The Times) Eventually. Their hair looks as if faces and hair were washed ~15 minutes before the 10pm video we should know by now.

So why bodies there w/foam? They were killed with a similar agent somewhere else they could NOT escape from. We'd call it a gas chamber. Well, deniers wouldn't. 

Then the bodies of these gassed captives were manually placed not that far inside the door of this site with the manually placed gas cylinder. Noting quite a few have stocking feet with no dust on the soles. E.g. W4 just inside the entrance, who seems dragged feet first up to the removed door to the ground floor washroom. 

To escape the basement where all reports agree they had been sheltering, they'd have to pass this spot between basement and ground floor inside - exit, then back in - and no stocking foot prints seem to appear. Several others wearing boots do. Hard to be sure when and why, or why the stretcher. Adding or removing bodies? Woman being carried in headfirst, or out feet first? Work interrupted why? 

White Helmets: they had their staged hospital scenes. This is well known. Relation to the gas chamber mass murder I suspect: unclear. But their rescue work leaves some to be desired. Microphone drop, White Helmets style. 

Note: just been reviewing the timeline - McIntyre has that, whatever he has w/the climate stuff. This movement scene is after a video posted 00:20 on April 8 (but maybe filmed earlier), and before the photo's posting at 1:41 am.   

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Ghouta 2013 reports: Scott Lucas Debunk Non-Efforts

Adam Larson

July 13, 2020 (rough, incomplete)

<< Ghouta 2013 Reports 

Compared to the first debunk efforts, this part 2 includes a far less substantive response: one baseless, a priori dismissal, out of 11 people and a group that were asked. And just look who it comes from...

1) Approach 1: Ignore the report

1.1) War crime denier, pants on fire

These rare words on our reports start from Aaron Maté's tweets of June 19 that started: 

"Well before OPCW's Douma cover-up, allegations of Syrian gov't chemical attacks made no sense. False-flags by sectarian death squad "rebels" did." 

Looking for mainstream media supports - and there aren't very many - he reaches for the generally credible veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. "In Ghouta 2013, Sy Hersh exposed that US intel knew the "rebels" did it. A new open-source study argues how:" https://rootclaim-media.s3.amazonaws.com/syria2013evidence.pdf

Aaron added links to Hersh's reporting on the attack at the London Review of Books (Whose sarin? - The red line and the rat line) and said "Obama later confirmed Hersh when he recalled that the US intel on Ghouta was not "slam dunk" -- a deliberate choice of words." (https://theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/)

Professor Scott Lucas responded June 19 : 

"Even by @AaronJMate's low standards, this is a dumpster fire of War Crimes denial.

1. Hersh was discredited, even before publication by misguided @LRB, for his poor sourcing, false claims, & conspiracy theory --- Which is why  @NYBooks  & others rejected piece

2. More dissection of Hersh's misinfo on #Syria sarin attack: https://eaworldview.com/2014/04/syria-special-dissecting-hershs-insurgents-chemical-weapons-attacks-sequel/ 

3. Only a buffoon would say "#Obama...confirmed Hersh" that #EastGhouta was "false flag"

#Obama said there was substantial evidence of #Assad regime responsibility 

3. What #Obama says in April 2016 is that as, of August 31, 2013, #Assad responsibility for #EastGhouta sarin attack had not been 100% established

That's 1 reason why he emphasized need for UN inspections, which were being hindered by Assad regime

And finally "4. Beyond @AaronJMate's disinfo, what is interesting is his move from denier of #Syria chemical attacks to position that chemical attacks were "false flags" by anti-#Assad forces"

In other words, he's now aligned w Assad regime, #Russia State, & fringe conspiracy theorists.

1.2) Conflicts of Interest 

First, understand a bit about Scott Lucas. Current Twitter bio: professor of American studies at the University of Birmingham, Founder @EA_WorldView . Co-Founder @AmericaUnfltrd / @Dive_Politics . Prof Emeritus @UniBirmingham . Associate, @Clinton_InstUCD . Political analyst on TV and radio. 

His strongly interventionist and propagandistic EA Worldview is a spin-off of Enduring America (The Guardian still notes Lucas is the "founder of the Enduring America website on US politics and foreign policy"). Originally, as I recall it seeming, Enduring America was a post-9/11 pro-war site with the Pentagon as its logo. A writer at the old EA, James Miller, had in 2013/14 denied the genocidal Adra Massacre by Jaysh al-Islam and Al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat al-Nusra. For that I said Miller could endure my urine. 

And at one point, Enduring America's founder prof. Lucas would also be a scholar affiliated with a Turkey-based Toran Center, which was co-directed by Majdi Nema, the former spokesman for and and militant with the same Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jaysh al-Islam, whose massacres and crimes Lucas denies as possible to the present day (see Douma, Academics and Mass-Murder Coverup). In fact, one of those is under immediate discussion - August 21, 2013 in Eastern Ghouta. See these infographics, and some further details below.

And here's an excerpt from my 2nd report Lucas and the rest have even less to say about, on the motive and capabilities of Jaysh al-Islam (then called Liwa al-Islam),. From section 4.2.3 "What Does Nema Know?"

It’s not exactly clear who would be involved in something as huge as possibilities 3 or 4, but to launch 
these rockets in the identified area, they would include militants that were part of - or at least allied with - Liwa al-Islam (LI). In tacit partnership with Al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat al-Nusra, LI had by mid-2013 positioned themselves to lead any march on Damascus, like if the 2011 Libya scenario were repeated. Therefore, it is they who arguably stood the most to gain from Obama’s “red line” being crossed like it was on August 21 2013.

And it is their leader Zahran Alloush (below, 2nd from right) who was excited, on August 13, that "the final steps in preparing a new surprise for the regime are about to be completed.” He was reportedly at a meeting of opposition forces in Turkey, which was held in Antakya, on August 13-14, as separately reported by Yosef Bodansky. He added that regional commanders were briefed there on “a war-changing development” which was “imminent” and would “lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria” and an “escalation of the fighting.” Bodansky heard that prediction came from senior commanders after a higher-level meeting in Istanbul, and that increased weapon shipments followed.

These reports could be a mix of truth, coincidence, and even fake news, and this part is just imagined; for all we know, this Istanbul meeting was real and discussed a bold prediction by commander Alloush,“a tip from his mole” that Assad was planning a huge sarin attack around the 21st likely to kill over 1,000. Consider that UN-OPCW inspectors were set to arrive 4-5 days later, and a week later came a surprise for some: that red line was crossed in a truly massive and undeniable way with hundreds dead and sarin quickly “confirmed” by those inspectors. U.S.-led military intervention was seriously threatened for the first time, and only averted under extraordinary circumstances.

LI had serious financial resources and enjoyed friendly relations with Jabhat al-Nusra, who were reportedly producing sarin right there in E. Ghouta. Therefore, Liwa al-Islam controlled both the area the sarin was made in and the spot the sarin rockets were seemingly fired from. It is Alloush’s LI who may have brazenly implicated themselves in a video launching that very attack. And it is they who have some 3,000-5,000 largely civilian prisoners left unaccounted-for.

It is therefore ironic that France already has a possible suspect in custody, even as they are to consider new punishments against Damascus over this crime.

And Scott Lucas in a sense works for that very suspect, or did. Majdi Nema's arrest likely ended that relationship, if nothing else before or after did. Operations may continue, but Toran Center activity on Facebook stopped soon after January 16, 2020, just before his arrest, and their Twitter account does about the same. And to be fair, it's not clear the Toran center ever did much. What's interesting is how Prof. Lucas was willing to be a part of it.

1.3) Assessing the Response

Lucas does have a point in his response to Aaron Maté, limited as it is. We can't be sure what Obama knew and thought, but he probably didn't mean to confirm Hersh's claims or implications, per se. That would mean admitting his "red line" threat/offer had sparked a terrorist massacre of innocents, which he nearly bombed a sovereign nation for. He would not likely admit to that ever. However if he knew the evidence was for Assad's guilt was super-weak and may fall apart some day, he might wisely allow for an 'outside chance' he was wrong. And the more we learn, the more it seems he should have had major doubts.

But Lucas makes it sound like Obama was about 99% sure he did not enable a mass murder, carried out by Prof. Lucas' Toran-AQ buddies. He makes it sounds like only Assad supposedly preventing inspection of ... something ... kept Obama from snagging that last one percent of certainty. And so it must that Assad did it, and everything to the contrary (including our forensic analysis - which again he didn't even address) must be wrong. 

I didn't review the EA Worldview piece and I don't know offhand all the claims Hersh made in his Ghouta articles, or how they all panned out. I've seen some claims from his intelligence sources fail to even make sense (notably re:Khan Sheikhoun, 2017), and don't take any of it as gospel. But I don't just toss it aside either. One detail that still seems possibly relevant is the Iraqi chemist Hersh heard about, making sarin for Jabhat Al-Nusra in Eastern Ghouta, in mid-2013. I asked if that specific claim was specifically debunked, or "do we dismiss that possibility in a baby-bathwater sense?" He didn't answer. I don't think it's been debunked, and it might well be true. That might've been Ziyad Tariq Ahmad's sarin the inspectors found with the unique "chemical fingerprint." See Whose Hexamine? 

The first use of this particular sarin was against Syrian Arab Army troops and mostly Shia civilians in Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, on March 19, 2013, just a few days after opposition forces had been driven out of the town. One soldier and 19 civilians were killed, but Jabhat al-Nusra was blamed, and it took a long time for Western powers to realize or admit that was sarin (as Syria and Russia had suspected or claimed from the start) When they finally checked the impurities that had the Russians calling it "cottage industry" stuff, these signs were known. They'd been confirmed in other cases including another sarin attack on SAA troops in Jobar on August 24, 3 days after the Ghouta sarin attack. And it happened about 400 meters from the opposition-controlled site from which - as we just proved - the sarin rockets were fired 3 days earlier. (see here or my new report for some details) And of course the sarin in the infamous 12 volcanos used to kill 1,000+ also matched the stuff used in Khan al-Assal and Jobar. Must be the regime! 

The same stuff had already turned up in Saraqeb at least, but after Ghouta failed to elicit a regime-change war that might let Jaysh al-Islam seize power in Damascus, there was a long and telling pause in its use. Finally that same telltale sarin would resurface in Al-Nusra administered al-Latiminah and Khan Sheikhoun in 2017, so "Assad" could find out if Trump had his own "Red Line." 

Having learned he did, almost exactly a year later on April 7, 2018, the same sarin was supposed to turn up in Douma, where Jaysh al-Islam was facing complete defeat even in their last bastion. Just before their inevitable surrender and the release of ~200 largely-civilian prisoners (out of an estimated 3,500-5,000 they once had) "Assad" attacked again. 35 piled bodies were found a few floors below a manually placed chlorine cylinder, as some kind of advance on early claims of 180-200 killed by sarin. Prof. Lucas seemed especially sure of that: to Turkish TRT World April 24, 2018 he said "From the multi-sources, I have Doctors, activists, Citizen Journalists there was a stronger agent used, this was not just chlorine used in Douma." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYOLXpzj0vw (props to Michael Martin). He doesn't mention any terrorist sources, but it's true that many others made claims pointing that way, including US officials saying they had sarin-positive urine samples. But something went wrong and it never did get released to be found at the only place where (it's now claimed) a significant number of people died. Only chlorine was found, and that at disputed levels, and only 43 died. 

Okay ... Lucas had no answer to the most relevant question over his general non-answer. He also had no word at all on the new study that really adds and "explains how" in fact the foreign-backed terrorists - most likely the same ones Lucas is affiliated with - were responsible (as they would be in Douma, 2018 and as they were in Adra, 2013, and beyond). He could only nitpick the supporting sources.

2) Approach 2: say random bad things about the report 

2.1) The little oxygen he could spare for our "scam"

Rootclaim tweet June 18 linked to the report and summary, asking "Does anyone have a response or rebuttal?" This was one of several bulk alerts sent out, addressed to these 12 accounts, mainly promoters of the establishment narratives on Syria:  

@bellingcat Bellingcat, the western-funded open-source investigators famously founded by...

@EliotHiggins Eliot Higgins, who would say in 2018: "The presence of hexamine at every confirmed Sarin attack shows the hexamine is part of the Syrian government’s manufacturing process."  

@Brian_Whit Brian Whitaker: Journalist, former Middle East editor of the Guardian newspaper. Author of 'Arabs Without God: Atheism and Freedom of Belief in the Middle East'. Occasional expert expert on the OPCW coverup scandal for Democracy Now, doxxer of whistleblowers at the heart of the scandal, Bellingcat ally  

@ChrisDYork Chris York Journalist/Студент. Formerly senior editor and reporter @HuffPostUK. Formerly there he engaged in almost insanely frequent attacks on independent analysis, especially the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media

@Josiensor Josie Ensor US Correspondent @Telegraph . Previously in the Middle East. Recipient of Marie Colvin Award. Associate Fellow at @ICSR_Centre

@_RichardHall Richard Hall British journalist covering America for @Independent after a long stint in Beirut. Formerly with @AFP and @TheWorld

@KreaseChan Kristyan Benedict Amnesty International UK Campaigns Manager: Crisis & Tactical, Syria. 

@DanKaszeta - Dan Kaszeta: US Secret Service, supposed chemical weapons expert, Bellincat ally, 2nd person (after OPCW insider JP Zanders) to assert w/roughly zero reason that Syria used hexamine in its sarin production, implicating them for the many attacks where that was found, including Ghouta.

@tobiaschneider - Tobias Schneider: Peace & Security ∙ Research Fellow at @GPPi ∙ Edit @SyriaContext ∙ @SAISStrat alum

@gregkoblentz Gregory Koblentz Associate Professor and Director of Biodefense Graduate Program in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. supposed chemical weapons expert, Bellingcat ally

@MsJulieLenarz Director of Social Media at American Jewish Committee @AJCGlobal . Background in Islamist extremism and counter-terrorism. 

AND of special note is @ScottLucas_EA: Like the rest, he had nothing to say at first. But then a "Lex Brody" popped in 5 days later to note the complete lack of reply from all 12 addressed accounts. A gif declared it was so quiet you could "here a cricket fart in here." Lucas alone finally replied, to finally address the report itself: 

"12 accounts realized that this is a scam operation, combining grift and disinformation." 

LB: So you take time to call it a scam operation, but you can't include one link that discredits this analysis.

SL: There's no analysis to discredit and I don't intend to give any more oxygen for scammers to breathe. If you're interested in actual information, (spam-links own site)

That's all he had to say. No one else spoke up, except for Dan Kaszeta who had popped in to reply to Lex Brody in the middle of that exchange: 

Lex didn't seem sure either, but it's because he was tagged in by Rootclaim. And that was because ... well, I'm not sure exactly why, but again, Kaszeta was the second person (after OPCW insider JP Zanders) to assert with roughly zero reason that Syria used hexamine in its sarin production, implicating them for the many attacks where that was found, including Ghouta. He first told this to Eliot Higgins, and then it was picked up by the NEW YORK TIMES, and remains influential in convincing the masses of the establishment's regime-change line. His disinformation here has essentially been proven wrong. But he can't be bothered about it now. 

2.2) Follow-up? Nope.

I was curious how they had come to this realization. The only specific I've seen to declare "disinformation" was its being called "recycled disinformation" by a few people. That was due to a flawed impression of "recycling," caused by poor reading comprehension on the part of wheel-spinning KJohnson, and "disinformation" slapped on for no valid reason whatsoever. (see debunks post 1 - Saar meant what he had just said in our discussion in March was based on seeing Michael's 2020 report just then, and initially disagreeing with major points - he never said that Rootclaim's analysis from 2017 was based on Michael's 2020 report, because that's not true and makes no sense)

As I formalized my response to Lucas et al. in later tweets 

On "Grift": maybe Rootclaim is meant to [be] developed and sold, if that makes sense (?). If so, using flawed "disinformation" to corroborate their method would be unwise. Either way my interest is in the claim of "disinformation." ...

That takes MISinformation + deceptive intent. While the latter is SUGGESTED (the lies are for "grift"), it's not really shown, and - more to the point - the information has never been shown to be amiss in the first place, and it's seeming like it never will be.

My challenge to Lucas and the other 11 - completely unanswered.

Of course @ScottLucas_EA sees no "analysis" in our Ghouta reports - just "a scam operation, combining grift and disinformation." Nevermind the forensic analysis he can't address, can he even spare a breathe to explain that claim? Free platform ->

Of course he rejected that. Re-linking the report and Lucas' review I asked the other 11 accounts if they had anything to add (actually sent only 7/10 ): "a last call for any words before I add to my debunks post"  - "who realized what & how?" - "So far Prof. Lucas is here, basically defending his boss' boss. He's spoken for the rest of you. Anything to add?"

He was talking about the detailed, irrefutable research of people he generally accuses of dishonesty and distant loyalty to Bashar al-Assad, "deniers" of war crimes, detestable people. He says it's wrong and a con. Pointing to his gross conflict of interest and his total lack of reason to dismiss our work, I again asked the others. And they generally seemed happy with letting his few words speak for them. They're of roughly the same mind as  this disinformation-spewing "academic" just 2 people removed from the probable mastermind of the chemical massacre he insists on denying. Is that a good mind to be like? 

They all have stuck with a silent treatment of tacit denial - so far. But I think things will change on that account, and this story won't be so ignorable for much longer. There will surely be a part 3 - at least - in this series on debunk attempts, slurs, and the like. Stay tuned, or remember to tune back in.