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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Houla Massacre: Challenges to the Video Findings

Adam Larson (aka Caustic Logic)
May 24, 2017

Here I copy my earlier call to challenge the CIWCL's 2014 report The Battle For The Houla Massacre: The Video Evidence Explained (and the rest reconsidered) (PDF direct download/view link, download page with short summary here) It's 60 pages but digestible, and with lots of pictures and extras. The original challenge space at the Taldou.Truth. site is still open, with no challenges three years on, except a few minor self-corrections. (I'm keeping both spaces open, but this site gets more views, while that remains a less-visible spot to fail in a challenge)

Especially helpful would be anyone from the millions of people preconditioned to discredit the report's findings, but patient enough to actually show why one should dismiss it, rather than just presuming it and screaming it as an obvious fact. It's a sacrifice to look at the upsetting details, and to and get specific and run the risk of being specifically wrong. But if no one is willing to take the challenge, then this report will continue to stand as the best answer yet as to what happened on May 25, 2012 in Taldou, al-Houla, in Homs governorate of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The best comments will directly discuss videos we cited and our analysis of them. Your criticisms will be more powerful and relevant if you at least skim the report, rather than presuming what our arguments are (they aren't the standard ones). A decent idea can be gotten from the photo-essay part of the recent post five years of the Houla Massacre lie.

Proposed Method
I'm open on just how to approach this, but this is my first thought:
1) Readers who read the report and think they have a serious challenge - or even a question - can first do so here, in a comment.
2) If it turns out interesting enough, that and the related discussion could then be copied or even moved (you can run out of space here!) to a new post where it's related, with space below for further discussion on that narrower subject.
3) Anyone who seems to or thinks they have a detailed case with many points could let me know and I could create a special debate post (mostly blank to start but with fresh comment space, and space for distilling any solid points raised into the main post.
4) Each of these would be given a link in this post and brief notes as warranted. Any corrections we consider sufficiently justified will be made, noted, and become their own parts of the investigation thereafter.
5) If you're not sure you have a point but think you might ... it's a question. Go research to find out, or ask me. Ex: "this part ... sounds like it can't be right. What is that based on? You cite "x" but I don't get how..."
6) A better idea on approach would be a better idea. So bring that too if you have one.

7) to help get things moving, you can mention - a typo or suspected error you spot
- statements of agreement or disagreement (specific)
- suggestions (NOT soliciting new source material unless it's a video and you've checked it against all those cited and know it's new - let's not clog the comments with reposts and guesses - I doubt it will be an issue - we've probably covered almost everything available, or at least that was back then)
- questions (like how we decided on a point), etc.

8) I feel confident enough on this subject I can afford to be more than fair to any counter-arguments anyone has the courage to offer. There are no free rides right to a legitimate win, but I'll grant any point in a way that's more than fair.

Special Challenge Spaces
* Eliot Higgins: Brown Moses on the Hook

** Anyone else at Bellingcat willing to step up? Toller? Triebert? Let me know and I'll create a special space.  Tag team is okay. First request should be made in at least one initial comment below.

Challenge Discussion Updates:
May 25: I've now had one anonymous comment that didn't tackle the core issues at all, but at least is/was engaged enough to speak up. For that, kudos. Anyone else? I just tried some riling up on Twitter. A serious response will likely a day or more to materialize (anyone who looks close enough to really try should be a little stumped or even intimidated). I'm watching comments (though I'm away from the screen for many hours at a time due to life). I'm also watching the "spam" folder in case a comment is wrongly routed there.

Collected Updates:

C1 July 21: because I already know it's needed, a space to review Abdulrazaq-Abbara-Clocktower Connection? re: page 34 in the report.
C2 Dec. 12: (minor)page 41, left-hand graphic: the orange arrow should point to the smaller building just south of the one indicated.
Otherwise, none yet as of December 23 (just started really trying about a week ago).
C3 Feb. 12 2015: I challenged my revised time zone decision. It was right to reflect DST here (unlike in the 2013 report), but that was on top of a wrong time zone, an old error that got set in stone. I thought Syria was in UTC+3 with Iraq, but it's in UTC+2 with Lebanon. I'm embarrassed that underpins most of my/our Syria research. In the 2013 report, the two errors cancelled out to a correct time, while in the 2014 report fixing one error but not the other means all (video/sun) times given, from sunset across, should be read as back down one hour. This has minor effects on narrative lineup (in some cases improving it, and in no cases making anything impossible, or causing any other problem).



  1. I thought this website was legit,i realised all the deductions are in favor of one party and mostly anti-american,saying Assad is a scapegoat,but i know for a fact that assad is a snake.

    Then i found out a website by the same autor of this website Mr.Larson about 911 being a hoax and the official story being a hoax.

    I think the author is one of those conspiracy theorists ,anti-governemnt folks.a new age hippy hiding behind a computer analyzing pics a world away from the incident while the poor and refugees suffer.

    And he has an unpleasent way of replying to comments

    1. I can be pretty caustic at times, that's true. Even rude, especially to rude and self-assured idiots. But here you got me saying I'd be more than fair, and I'm bound to that, and you're not being rude, per se...

      This is certainly an opinion I'm sure exists all over, it obviously doesn't touch on the detailed evidence-based case behind these "conspiracy theory" claims. What you "know for a fact" doesn't matter in light of well-analyzed video proof of anti-Assad militants overrunning defenses in this last government-held pat of al-Houla just before the massacre in that same area. That trumps all the things you might happen to "know for a fact." It's one of my many legit gripes against "the government" (and others) ... they enable genocidal masacres like this, and even encourage them by helping the killers shift the blame. I don't want to say they (whoever) does it intentionally, over and over, but ... if they don't realize yet what they're doing, that's a serious cognitive problem.

      So, just saying - this challenge doesn't even count. I'm sure as heck not revising the report to say 'never mind, I guess I'm just an anti-USA pro-dictator CT crank.'

      Not that a serious challenge would be easy for most people to lodge; it will be a geolocation and video analysis challenge. Those too can be fallacious and lame, and arguing to show that can be tedious, but that's probably what it will be, if anything can even challenge these best-yet findings.

      If I get too many of these kind of comments, I may stop responding. But at the start, sure. Let's get anything moving here! So thanks, Anon, for comment #1. We're already farther than my last (lame) attempt at scoring debunk attempts ever got.


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