Russian to Judgement 453

The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely. A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.

The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. This Foreign Policy magazine (a very establishment US publication) article on Israel‘s chemical and biological weapon capability is very interesting indeed. I will return to Israel later in this article.

Incidentally, novachok is not a specific substance but a class of new nerve agents. Sources agree they were designed to be persistent, and of an order of magnitude stronger than sarin or VX. That is rather hard to square with the fact that thankfully nobody has died and those possibly in contact just have to wash their clothes.

From Putin’s point of view, to assassinate Skripal now seems to have very little motivation. If the Russians have waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup. The Russians have never killed a swapped spy before. Just as diplomats, British and otherwise, are the most ardent upholders of the principle of diplomatic immunity, so security service personnel everywhere are the least likely to wish to destroy a system which can be a key aspect of their own personal security; quite literally spy swaps are their “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You don’t undermine that system – probably terminally – without very good reason.

It is worth noting that the “wicked” Russians gave Skripal a far lighter jail sentence than an American equivalent would have received. If a member of US Military Intelligence had sold, for cash to the Russians, the names of hundreds of US agents and officers operating abroad, the Americans would at the very least jail the person for life, and I strongly suspect would execute them. Skripal just received a jail sentence of 18 years, which is hard to square with the narrative of implacable vindictiveness against him. If the Russians had wanted to make an example, that was the time.

It is much more probable that the reason for this assassination attempt refers to something recent or current, than to spying twenty years ago. Were I the British police, I would inquire very closely into Orbis Intelligence.

There is no doubt that Skripal was feeding secrets to MI6 at the time that Christopher Steele was an MI6 officer in Moscow, and at the the time that Pablo Miller, another member of Orbis Intelligence, was also an MI6 officer in Russia and directly recruiting agents. It is widely reported on the web and in US media that it was Miller who first recruited Skripal. My own ex-MI6 sources tell me that is not quite true as Skripal was “walk-in”, but that Miller certainly was involved in running Skripal for a while. Sadly Pablo Miller’s LinkedIn profile has recently been deleted, but it is again widely alleged on the web that it showed him as a consultant for Orbis Intelligence and a consultant to the FCO and – wait for it – with an address in Salisbury. If anyone can recover that Linkedin entry do get in touch, though British Government agencies will have been active in the internet scrubbing.

It was of course Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence who produced for the Clinton camp the sensationalist dossier on Trump links with Russia – including the story of Trump paying to be urinated on by Russian prostitutes – that is a key part of the “Russiagate” affair gripping the US political classes. The extraordinary thing about this is that the Orbis dossier is obvious nonsense which anybody with a professional background can completely demolish, as I did here. Steele’s motive was, like Skripal’s in selling his secrets, cash pure and simple. Steele is a charlatan who knocked up a series of allegations that are either wildly improbable, or would need a high level source access he could not possibly get in today’s Russia, or both. He told the Democrats what they wish to hear and his audience – who had and still have no motivation to look at it critically – paid him highly for it.

I do not know for certain that Pablo Miller helped knock together the Steele dossier on Trump, but it seems very probable given he also served for MI6 in Russia and was working for Orbis. And it seems to me even more probable that Sergei Skripal contributed to the Orbis Intelligence dossier on Trump. Steele and Miller cannot go into Russia and run sources any more, and never would have had access as good as their dossier claims, even in their MI6 days. The dossier was knocked up for huge wodges of cash from whatever they could cobble together. Who better to lend a little corroborative verisimilitude in these circumstances than their old source Skripal?

Skripal was at hand in the UK, and allegedly even close to Miller in Salisbury. He could add in the proper acronym for a Russian committee here or the name of a Russian official there, to make it seem like Steele was providing hard intelligence. Indeed, Skripal’s outdated knowledge might explain some of the dossier’s more glaring errors.

But the problem with double agents like Skripal, who give intelligence for money, is that they can easily become triple agents and you never know when a better offer is going to come along. When Steele produced his dodgy dossier, he had no idea it would ever become so prominent and subject to so much scrutiny. Steele is fortunate in that the US Establishment is strongly motivated not to scrutinise his work closely as their one aim is to “get” Trump. But with the stakes very high, having a very loose cannon as one of the dossier’s authors might be most inconvenient both for Orbis and for the Clinton camp.

If I was the police, I would look closely at Orbis Intelligence.

To return to Israel. Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations. Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad. And while I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grieviously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grieviously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.

Both the Orbis and Israeli theories are speculations. But they are no more a speculation, and no more a conspiracy theory, than the idea that Vladimir Putin secretly sent agents to Salisbury to attack Skripal with a secret nerve agent. I can see absolutely no reason to believe that is a more valid speculation than the others at this point.

I am alarmed by the security, spying and armaments industries’ frenetic efforts to stoke Russophobia and heat up the new cold war. I am especially alarmed at the stream of cold war warrior “experts” dominating the news cycles. I write as someone who believes that agents of the Russian state did assassinate Litvinenko, and that the Russian security services carried out at least some of the apartment bombings that provided the pretext for the brutal assault on Chechnya. I believe the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia is illegal. On the other hand, in Syria Russia has saved the Middle East from domination by a new wave of US and Saudi sponsored extreme jihadists.

The naive view of the world as “goodies” and “baddies”, with our own ruling class as the good guys, is for the birds. I witnessed personally in Uzbekistan the willingness of the UK and US security services to accept and validate intelligence they knew to be false in order to pursue their policy objectives. We should be extremely sceptical of their current anti-Russian narrative. There are many possible suspects in this attack.

453 thoughts on “Russian to Judgement

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  • Baalbek

    Excellent comment. A much needed sober response to the hyperbolic dubious accusations made by our esteemed leaders. What disturbs me even more than the remarks by May et al and the bloviating of the establishment press is the public’s acceptance of these unproven and wildly irresponsible allegations. The US media has even compared Russia’s alleged Facebook “hacking” to Pearl Harbour and 911 adding
    a dose of vitriol that even al Qaeda after 911 did not receive. Although it should not surprise me anymore, the propensity for otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people to shut down their critical faculties and accept this brand of cartoonish and often incoherent warmongering at face value never ceases to boggle my mind.

  • Paul Boldrin

    Assuming that other countries like Ukraine had Novochok stocks left after becoming independent and wanted to further the divide between Russia and UK wouldn’t there be likely to use it?

  • mark GOLDING

    Check your petition:

    Amend the ‘fit and proper’ broadcasting legislation.

    The British government has written a letter to the Russian-financed broadcaster warning that its licence to broadcast is being reviewed. No valid and concrete evidence has been provided to prove in a court of law that this state broadcaster has breached any broadcasting rules.

    More details:

    In contrast why has the British Broadcasting company not breached the ‘fit and proper’ rule when the said UK citizen financed broadcasting company was complicit in a war with Iraq whose genesis relied on a pretense namely that the UK was threatened by weapons of mass destruction launched from Iraq written into a government dossier that contained unsupported claims. Iraq today is still in ruins and generations are still dying from the affects of war.

    Please advise/amend before publication if you may. Thank-you

    • John Goss

      Mark, I would like to see a simple statement, something like:

      “Revoking the licence of a broadcasting company amounts to anything but free speech in a country which claims to believe in freedom of speech. Many people get an alternative slant on news articles through watching Russia Today. To deprive them of that alternative is authoritarian, verging on dictatorial.”

      Or something like that. Quite clearly they are rattled that their Skripal false-flag is going down the pan. Enough is enough.

  • Durak


    I worked on Pathogen security and storage in UZ (as well as GE, KZ… others) and they ain’t secure… take my word for it.

    Wanna steal something nasty? Just bribe the staff at the Georgia NCDC in Tbilisi (for example)…. would love to have stayed in UZ but they closed Juliano’s…. no reason to extend contract there!

    A few thou will do it.

    Job done.

  • John Lowe

    Excellent blog. I have been asking on twitter for the proof. As there is no way you can trust WM. The US being quite on this speaks volumes and provides more back up to your questioning Isralie involvement

    • Resident Dissident

      Well they are quiet now Trump has sacked Tillerson on Twitter, after Tillerson supported the UK.

  • Thomas Mellman

    You said in “The Steele Dossier or the Hitler Diaries Mark II” that Trump’s lawyer Cohen has produced his passport to show he was not in Praq. The Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen agreement – no passport check is made or passport stamped. If he was in Europe at the time in question, it would be disingenuous to suggest that a passport was proof any anything.

      • Bob Apposite

        The guy who used a shell company and pseudonyms to pay off Stormy Daniels?

        Yeah, he’d never do anything deceptive.

  • Velofello

    Question. Why does the UK hold supplies of nerve gas? Does Ireland,Iceland, Denmark, Norway Sweden etc. hold supplies too?

    But then I do recall the UK poisoning an island in Scotland with anthrax, why?And then was there something mentioned recently of the UK trying out mustard gas on darker skins? And I met an ex-soldier who attended the nuclear explosion at Christmas Island, “put on these sunglasses lads to shield you from the brightness”.

    Theresa May’s precious United Kingdom.

  • Thomas Mellman

    You said in “The Steele Dossier or the Hitler Diaries Mark II” that Trump’s lawyer Cohen has produced his passport to show he was not in Praq. The Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen agreement – no European passport check is made or passport stamped. If he was in Europe at the time in question, it would be disingenuous to suggest that a passport was proof any anything.

    • Freddy

      He is a US citizen.
      The US is not a member of the Schengen Agreement, thus his passport would be stamped if he crossed the Czech Republic border.
      No stamp – no border crossing of a Schengen Agreement country, period.

  • Helen Watson

    Very informative and interesting article. Thank you. Let’s hope many people read it.

  • Freddy

    “The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down.”

    It certainly was. Not just analysed, but also re-produced in at least two countries.
    A ex-Soviet scientist in charge of development of the “Novichok” group of agents was arrested and tried for (surprise, surprise) treason in Russia in 1992, he sold formulas (and related technical documentation) of the “Novichok” group of agent and other secret chemical agents to “foreign intelligent services” (guess who), but was later released from prison and “relocated” to the US where he is currently living. He is actively involved in a Russian political anti-government movement (again, what a surprise) “Putin Must Go”.
    Please meet Vil Mirzayanov, the man who sold Novichok to the West.
    From Russia with gas, so to speak.

    • Freddy

      And by the way, speaking of something that the author could be familiar with:

      “The United States and Uzbekistan have quietly negotiated and are expected to sign a bilateral agreement today to provide American aid in dismantling and decontaminating one of the former Soviet Union’s largest chemical weapons testing facilities, according to Defense Department and Uzbek officials.

      Earlier this year, the Pentagon informed Congress that it intends to spend up to $6 million under its Cooperative Threat Reduction program to demilitarize the so-called Chemical Research Institute, in Nukus, Uzbekistan. Soviet defectors and American officials say the Nukus plant was the major research and testing site for a new class of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons called ”Novichok,” which in Russian means ”new guy.”” – NYT, 1999

      Would that be hard to believe that they got a complete technical documentation and plenty of Novichok “sample material” from that facility (?)

  • Terence A Dunn

    I have seen at first hand , the false attacks that a Government , even of good reputation , are capable of carrying out , ergo an attack by Israeli or British Secret Services is well within credibility !

    • Tony_0pmoc

      John Goss,

      Completely Brilliant Post from a man who lives in Salisbury. I would love to read many more witness statements from people who live in Salisbury.

      I don’t live in Salisbury, and I don’t live in New Zealand. However, it just so happens that a Great Uncle of mine, who I have never met, though I have met his daughter, more or less invented the Science of Forensics. (you can’t invent a science, but you can make enormous progress in developing it)

      His name is Sir Sydney Smith, and this is what they say about him on wikipedia. He would be completely disgusted at current events, which is completely destroying the reputation of The British Government. I know his grandaughter too. She has even travelled from Edinburgh to meet my Mum in our house in London. She is a lot of fun, and is married to a very nice Indian Man.

      “Sir Sydney Alfred Smith CBE (4 August 1883 in Roxburgh, New Zealand – 8 May 1969 in Edinburgh, Scotland), was a renowned forensic scientist and pathologist.[1][2][3] From 1928 to 1953, Smith was Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, a well-known forensic department of that time.[4] Smith’s popular 1959 autobiography, Mostly Murder, has run through many British and American editions, the latest in 1988.”


      • John Goss

        You’re right. We now start with a suspect, which is nearly always Russia, and work backwards to apportion blame ignoring any other details and end up with all those inconclusive qualifying statements like “probably”, “most likely”, “the finger points at” without any conclusive evidence.

        I recall too that the man who split split the atom was a Kiwi. Unfortunately if it had not been Rutherford it would have been someone else.

      • dunwich

        It’s not a witness statement. He provides no new facts. Don’t pretend he does.

  • MikeH

    Perhaps the Maybot is in such a mess that she considers this a good opportunity for a virtual Falklands moment – she seems to have copied Thatcher in every other way from the pearl necklace onwards, so why not solve her problems with a bit of ‘Empire Strikes Back’.
    Too many other synchronicities and possible conspiracy theories suggest themselves: mine would be that Skripal, having failed to retire (as swapped double agents are expected to do) and worked again for MI6, would still be ‘dispensable’ as a useful stooge and therefore a perfect person to bump off and pin on the Russians as revenge; given also the extreme media language coming from all quarters, never mind the bile coming from Bojo and May’s new defence minister, then it would be equally useful to bump off the daughter too to show what ‘nasties’ the Russians really are. All would be good populist media fodder ripe for the Right who want their empire back.

    The fact the victims haven’t died, and the rather odd reports concerning the one and only police officer contaminated, could also be tied in with Porton Down being only a few miles away, where, as Craig indirectly implies, they might even have the antidote! : give the victims all a small amount to keep them alive but not talking, then bide your time for maximum media effect and when the ‘virtual Falklands’ victory over Russia (threatened cyber-warfare?) occurs, miraculously save the girl and then the father; our gallant security services could then not even be accused of sacrificing their own agents in the name of the ‘greater good’. It would be perfect to see Le Carré write the fictional version, since it all fits so neatly with the scenarios of global security services he usually portrays.

    So please have a go and write your own conspiracy theories – the government’s portrayal is so improbable, you could invent more coherent theories by the thousand … but in reality the Russians are the least likely ones to have done this, and I would go with Craig’s Mossad speculation which fits all the geopolitical circumstances of the current situation: especially when May and ‘Ben Nitay’ are both in such a tight corner right now and can’t find any other way out, other than bellicose posturing to divert people’s attention …

    • N_

      I dearly hope that all three victims of the Salisbury attack make a full recovery, but I fear that what will happen is that their deaths, one by one, will be announced at what for the British rulers are the most opportune moments. They are cards that can be played.

  • John Huber

    Thank you for your insightful blog. Whether one believes the Crimea referendum to join Russia is legitimate or not, I think most would agree that the USA backed revolutionaries are Russian hating neo-nazis. They would make life absolutely miserable for the predominately ethnic Russian population living in Crimea. By joining Russia, Crimea’s human rights have a much better chance of being protected. I find the Western mainstream media hypocritical in accepting a violent overthrow of a democratically elected government and at the same time rejecting the will of the majority in a publicly held referendum.

    • james

      thanks for stating all that john… it seems to me crimea voted overwhelmingly to be a part of russia… it might not fit with the western storyline, but generally the west is ignorant of the history of this part of the world and there have been referendums in crimea before too – 1956 as memory serves… but, more importantly, why was the usa meddling in the ukraine? i think the answer is fairly straight forward… crimea and russia responded in an appropriate way…

  • Jacqueline Ann Russell

    Thank you for this enlightenment.I find it hard to get a balance of opinion.I feel there is much more to the nerve agent attack than we know yet or will ,indeed ever be made party to.I’m not sure where the extreme anti Russia rhetoric will lead us to ; don’t see the angle yet!

  • N_

    If Britain, i.e. the British state, cyberattacks Russia, and admits what it’s doing, I do not see how the two states can maintain ambassadorial relations. Cyberspace is the fifth domain of warfare. This is so even, as is extremely likely, Britain’s attack fizzles out without achieving its military objective.

    And all because the fuckers in MI6 recruited some fucker from the GRU?

    And then he got caught. Then they swapped him, and housed him in a British army town – but they still couldn’t protect him. That’s two total fuckups. Something went wrong on the playing fields of Marlborough, did it, Alex Younger? Or was it in the snotnosed Scots Guards? Because your organisation haven’t half been made to look a bunch of incompetent dickheads.

    What would Britain attack? Government networks? Hospitals? Banks? Television stations? Internet services? Airports? Road transport systems? Water systems? Are they going to spread satirical images depicting Putin wearing a dress? Or looking like a Tsar? And they’re going to do that around the time of an election when Putin is about to gain, or has just gained, more than 60% of the voteshare against opponents who have each won less than 10%?

    The British objective is what?

  • Mark Cato

    Thank You.
    I too am struggling to understand why Russia would do this a this time. There is absolutely no apparent reason and hotting up the cold war makes no sense for them.
    The only possible reason, I speculate, is that there may be potential double agents within the Russian security services and this was a warning to them. However to use a nerve agent that had such risks to the wider population and the effect, if their guilt was proved, that this would have on diplomatic issues around the world where Russia is active is a price far higher than the ‘warning’ is worth paying. Putin may have questionable policies and play by his own rules, but he is not a fool by any stretch of the imagination.
    Assassinations have always been part of the spy game, though not as much as spy fiction would have us believe, but they are usually much more covert than this very public event.
    Another question that this raises is what benefit does it have to Russia ‘games’ in international politics? IF Russia is meddling as much as it is claimed in the politics of Western countries why would they carry out an action that would strengthen the RW and anti-Russian party in Britain. Why, and they would know this, do something that would draw a response ( a very measured and sensible one) from Corbyn that will allow the anti-Corbyn press to play the “can’t be trusted with our National Security” because he does not talk aggressively. Why would Russia want to jeopardise the possibility of having someone who does understand real diplomacy and negotiation as opposed to the Tories hot air and ‘righteous’ indignation, that solves nothing and creates bigger problems? Again, the benefits (if any) of eliminating a spy who is no longer active at the real risk of raising the temperature in the Cold War makes no sense.
    In all things the question has to start with who benefits the most. If there is no palpable benefit to Putin then the only reason he would be guilty is if he was ‘mad’ – which he is not.

  • Loony

    Hey British people: Do you know that Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has stated that the Skripal poisoning was not an incident but a “colossal international provocation”

    With reference to the British ultimatum she said “one does not give 24 hours notice to a nuclear power”

    But you have done just that – and you can bet that the Russians are locked and loaded. So it is time for you to shut your mouths and concentrate on things that you are actually allowed to do – like arrest and subsequently deport 25 year old American women who express views that you do not like.

    • Tony_0pmoc

      Loony, We do like her. It’s her boyfriend we can’t stand. He look like he has just come out of the Hitler Youth Camp in 1936. It’s all very well trying to make out that image doesn’t matter, but if you look like that, it quite obviously does.

  • Sagittarius Rising

    Excellent article.

    Hamish Stephen de Bretton-Gordon

    Hamish de Bretton-Gordon is Chief Operating Office of SecureBio Ltd a commercial company offering CBRN Resilience, consultancy and deployable capabilities. Hamish set up SecureBio in 2011 after 23 years’ service in the British Army.

    1. 22 March 2016

    British terrorism expert reveals why ISIS extremists targeted Brussels
    Hamish de Bretton-Gordon is a former spy and is now an advisor to the Government

    2. 07 March 2018

    Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, ex- commander of the Army’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear regiment, said: “All the circumstances point in the direction of sarin.
    “It’s very toxic and the symptoms displayed tally with its effects.”

    ‘Sarin’. 4 days later:-

    3. 11 March 2018
    “We know it’s a nerve agent and both sarin and VX have been officially discounted, which leaves Novichok,” said chemical warfare expert Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former head of Britain’s Chemical, Biological Radiation and Nuclear regiment.

    We do? They were? When exactly?

    1 Hamish S De Bretton-Gordon Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10
    Full Address
    Alastair N De Bretton-Gordon … 2002
    2 Hamish S De Bretton-Gordon Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP31
    Full Address
    Julia A De Bretton-Gordon
    3 Hamish S De Bretton-Gordon
    Age Guide: 46-50
    Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP3
    Full Address
    Julia A De Bretton-Gordon
    2004, 2007-09
    4 Hamish S De Bretton-Gordon Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12
    Full Address
    Julia A De Bretton-Gordon

    According to the Mirror, a former spy. As an ex-military man, this must imply MI6? – now working for the government – who (to the best of my knowledge) was the first person to interject ‘novochuk’ into the MSM on Sunday 11 March 2018 (novochuk had already been discussed for some days prior to 11 March on the internet) – 24 hours before Mrs May suggested the same.

    A chemical weapons expert whose postal address – one of them – was Salisbury, at least, upto 2009.

    Salisbury. Funny, that.

  • Andrew (Andy) Crow

    Makes a lot more sense to me than the public story. Israel ?..US ?..they’re different are they ?

  • Hieroglyph

    Galloway was disturbed at the baying parliamentary mob (both sides), and it appears on Corbyn (as usual) isn’t infected by the virus. I swear they aren’t far from marching on Moscow, perhaps next winter! Well, obviously, they won’t be doing any marching, just relaying the orderz.

    It’s all bullshit, naturally. One presumes it’s handy distraction from the serious child abuse allegations coming out of Telford. Muslim rape gangs, being covered up by police, allegedly. Baffling.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    I know, I have been told off, by Sharp Ears no less, about feeling sorry for Theresa May So far as I can tell, she has had no formal education in acting. She didn’t for example attend Oldham Rep, nor even The Brit school in Croydon. She went to a Catholic Convent School for Girls, then a Girl’s Grammar School, that was then turned into a Bog Standard Comp. Yes she got into Oxford, and studied Geography. Not only that, but the poor girl “was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus of type 1 in November 2012. She is treated with daily insulin injections”

    That to me , seems a pretty tough history, and the convent school was probably the worst.

    Now tomorrow, she has to return to the House of Commons, and pull off The Performance of her Lifetime, doing a hissy fit at President Putin, almost certainly knowing, that it is a complete load of old bollocks, that she has to perform.

    Of course, she will try and do her best, whilst probably now being coached in the speech she has to make.

    I am not expecting her to be a hero, and actually tell the truth, drop the script, and speak from the heart, but I would be completely delighted if she did. assuming she knows what is going on.

    We don’t have leaders like that any more. She thinks they would kill her. She is not in the same league as Margaret Thatcher. whether you agree or disagree with Thatcher’s policies, She always had the courage to tell The truth as best she understood it, regardless of the personal consequences, and didn’t need any coaching. I know Thatcher destroyed, almost all the industry in The North of England, which seriously affected me, but she did it honestly. She did what she believed was right, even though about many (not all things), she was totally wrong. She gained some respect, even from the people who seriously disliked her, who’s lives and communities she was destroying.

    “Stranglers – No More Heroes”


  • Sagittarius Rising

    From an article in the Daily Mail, Friday 2 March 2018:-

    British spies are allowed to commit crimes in the UK, previously secret orders have revealed.

    Theresa May publicly admitted for the first time yesterday that MI5 agents could carry out criminal activity in the UK.

    The Prime Minister confirmed that the area of the Security Service’s work was kept under review by a watchdog.

    Mrs May referred to a direction that said the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, who scrutinises the work of the intelligence agencies, has oversight of ‘security service agents’ participation in criminality’.

    The disclosure marked an extremely rare official reference to the potential involvement in crime of agents run by MI5.

    Human rights group Reprieve said it was the first time the Government had acknowledged the existence of UK guidelines on such activity.

  • Rory O'Keeffe

    Hey Craig, This is an interesting piece.
    Your throwaway line on Syria is a disappointment, however. It could perhaps have read: ‘On the other hand, in Syria Russia has saved the Middle East from domination by a new wave of US and Saudi sponsored extreme jihadists.’

    But continued ‘…at the literal cost of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives taken directly by Russia and Assad, the dismantling and massacre of an entire system which was created by Syrian people to replace a murderous hereditary dictator, and of all the people who were attacked for having held that ideal whatsoever, the Russia-sanctioned annihilation of the Kurds – already consistently hammered by Assad – by Turkey, as well as at the cost of a permanent (though ignored by supporters of the Russian attack on Syrian civilians) Russian military presence in Syria, and effective influence if not outright control of Putin over the state and its population, when in fact a far better plan than literally keeping the war going as long as it took to devastate every single place where people who oppose Assad live, and murdering all those people – which is what Franco did in Spain – would have been to actually make an effort to deliver what Syrian people actually wanted, rather than what Assad and Putin wanted.

    ‘Oh, and also, when I chose to imply that what Syrian people were and still are fighting for was either US-control over their state (which could easily be prevented by the international community) or some kind of lunatic jihadism, I was in fact talking out of my arse, which is a shame because in so doing I accidentally offered yet more support for a seven-year massacre in which even if Assad had not – as he has – used chemical weapons against his own population 11 times in the last seven. years, his and Russia’s targeting of civilian is in itself a war crime. Sorry about that. Not sure why I needed to offer anti-Syria propaganda in an otherwise interesting piece about an entirely unconnected issue, but there you are.’

    Which, as I say, is a shame. Because otherwise this was a diverting piece, and deserves consideration.

    On the other hand, we do know that Russia has the nerve agent in question, has the motive and opportunity and by your own admission also has past form on exactly this kind of activity.

    So while someone else could certainly have done it – and we definitely literally don’t know – the evidence we have thus far does appear to point to Russia or at the very least extensive Russian involvement (as even in the author’s narrative, Russia would still benefit from the death of the agent).

    If you’ll forgive, me I shall also post below a short summary which I think negates the argument that in some way Russia would have benefited MORE from killing him sooner.

    Though as I say, it is certainly true that we do not know exactly who attempted to kill the guy.

  • Rory O'Keeffe

    There seems to be some kind of misapprehension at play here: that Russia in some way doesn’t/wouldn’t want people to know it did this.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t know whether Russia did this, but put yourself in the shoes of the Russian state: if you were going to poison a former agent who you regard as an enemy and a traitor, why would you want to keep it secret?

    It being noisily public lets every current and former Russian agent know that Russia will act ‘decisively’ in matters concerning them. It lets the Russian public know that Putin is a strong man, unhindered by international law, in matters concerning whatever he believes and declares to be Russian interest and security – a rallying point for his supporters and a warning to his opponents.

    It’s also a statement to the world – that Russia is ‘back’ as a global power, and will exercise whatever it believes/claims to be its interests regardless of location or international law (it doesn’t have to ‘state’ this: the actions speak for themselves).

    And so we come to international law.

    Thing is, Assad is agreed by the world’s chemical weapons experts to have used chemical weapons at least 11 times in the last seven years. He and Russia have consistently targeted civilian areas.

    Both of these things are international war crimes. Yet no-one has done anything in response.

    And that’s Syria: if international law is meaningless in Syria, then why would Putin, head of the world’s second or third strongest state, feel concerned about breaking it in the UK, which is far, far weaker than it?

    I am not saying Russia definitely DID do this (though it has the motive and the means, others may well do too) but I AM saying that none of the seemingly ‘logical’ arguments presented so far to explain why it couldn’t or wouldn’t have done so actually hold water.

  • bea_medi

    In his 1st of March state of the union address Putin revealed his response to the US’s 2002 unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. That is a hand to that has taken almost his entire political career to prepare and to which (regardless of some initial bluster) he will be patiently awaiting a considered response from the US and others. This situation alone makes it literally inconceivable that Russia would have ordered an assassination of a Western based target like Skripol (if Skripol even is a target of Russia these days) at this time. It really is the least likely time of Putin’s entire political career for something like this. Unless this is not known or ignored there is no need for any of the other arguments.

    So, if there is any Russian connection then, it will be with Putin’s enemies, whether alone or in cahoots with some of the other possibles.

    Given the timing, brazenness and lack of regard for ordinary citizens (other than their own first class ones) my hunch is that this was Israel. Mr “America is easily moved” Netanyahoo’s f-you response for the humiliation around the Feb downing of the F-16, and a message to Putin that the game in Syria might not change so easily.

    I find particularly worrisome the apparent attempts today to link this to the lack of intervention over Syria’s supposed use by Russia of chemical weapons here, which of course we now at last appreciation the seriousness of! I truly hope we are not about to see that chemical weapon attack(?) using supposed Russian nerve agents(?) to precipitate the long yearned for US/UK/NATO “humanitarian” intervention(?) timed when there is the distraction of the Russian presidential election and world cup(?) and of course (because facts don’t matter a hoot) in a war in which there is simply nothing to be gained by Syria or her allies from doing such a thing.

    Anyway, unavoidably then increasingly speculative, and main point the first: at this time not a chance that it was Russia.

  • Ruth

    One of the reasons to argue Litvenenko was killed by MI5 is the simple fact that he became a British citizen days/weeks before he was poisoned. His citizenship was, I believe, fast forwarded. The UK government’s emphasis was that a UK citizen had been killed. In the recent poisoning the focus is on the attackbeing carried out on British soil putting the lives of UK citizens at risk

  • James

    I find this very confusing.

    If you accept that Russia was responsible for killing Litvinenko, then you already have a similar MO and previous for bumping off Russians in the UK. There are others whose deaths are seen as suspicious, such as Beresovsky, who were critical of Putin and living here.

    For Mossad, even if the motive is there, the risks are colossal. It seems like a very sophisticated crime, where the perpetrators could be well clear of the scene before anyone knew something was wrong, but there is always the risk of witnesses. Would they really consider such a gamble for such an oblique goal?

    • james

      i don’t agree with craig on his conclusion about who is responsible for litvinenko… that was a frame up as i see it with m16 much more likely.. essentially i see this the same way…

      • James

        Why would it be a frame up with MI6?

        In this scenario, MI6 would surely then be briefing government with urgency and certainty about what happened, in order to try and ensure their desired objective. If so, the reaction of the UK government – scrabbling around for ages trying to find out what happened before not doing very much at all – was very weird.

  • james

    thanks craig.. thought provoking as always! and i agree with you about being extremely skeptical of the current anti-russian narrative..

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