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Shape-Shifting Analysis on Alleged Russian Poisoning

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[5]COMMENT: With charges of Russ­ian chem­i­cal war­fare atroc­i­ties fill­ing the air, more mea­sured analy­sis [6] on the Con­sor­tium News [7] site high­lights deep flaws in the alleged Russ­ian poi­son­ing of retired spy Sergei Skir­pal and his daugh­ter. 

For­mer UK Ambas­sador to Uzbek­istan Craig Mur­ray notes [6]:

  1. ” . . . . I find it remark­able that the very day this hap­pened the British gov­ern­ment was announc­ing that it was the Russ­ian state that was behind this. They couldn’t pos­si­bly have had time to ana­lyze any of the evi­dence. It is as though this is being used as a trig­ger to put pre­arranged anti-Russ­ian mea­sures into place and to “up” the Cold War rhetoric.  You can’t help get the feel­ing that they are rather pleased this has hap­pened and were even expect­ing it to hap­pen. . . .”
  2. ” . . . .The claim is that this is one of a group of nerve agents known as a Novi­chok.  The Novi­chok pro­gram was being run in the 1980’s by the Sovi­ets. The idea was to devel­op chem­i­cal weapons which could be quick­ly put togeth­er from com­mer­cial pes­ti­cides and fer­til­iz­ers.  They came up with a num­ber of the­o­ret­i­cal designs for such weapons. Until now, the offi­cial posi­tion of the British gov­ern­ment and the Orga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons was that there was doubt as to whether they actu­al­ly pro­duced any of these.  As of now, they haven’t been put on the banned list, pre­cise­ly because the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty has doubt­ed their exis­tence. So the British government’s abil­i­ty on day-one to iden­ti­fy this was quite remark­able. . . .”
  3. “ . . . . In order to take blood sam­ples from the Skri­pals, who were both in a coma, doc­tors had to get court approval.  And in giv­ing evi­dence to the High Court, two sci­en­tists stat­ed that the Skri­pals had been poi­soned by a Novi­chok nerve agent or a ‘close­ly relat­ed agent.’  It looks to many peo­ple like this may just be a sil­ly ama­teur mix­ture of dif­fer­ent insec­ti­cides. . . . . The British gov­ern­ment has been telling us that this is ten times more pow­er­ful than a stan­dard nerve agent.  Thank­ful­ly, so far, nobody has been killed. Why isn’t this dead­ly agent more effec­tive? Why is it that the doc­tor who admin­is­tered first aid to Yulia Skri­pal was com­plete­ly unaf­fect­ed, even though he had exten­sive phys­i­cal con­tact with her? . . .”
  4. “ . . . . Our for­eign sec­re­tary, Boris John­son, has gone on record as say­ing that the Rus­sians have been secret­ly stock­pil­ing this chem­i­cal weapon for a decade and have had a secret pro­gram of assas­si­na­tion tech­niques.  But if you were Vladimir Putin and you had this secret nerve agent, why would you blow your cov­er by using it on this retired spy who you released from prison years ago? The whole sce­nario is utter­ly implau­si­ble. Why would Rus­sia wish to ruin its inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion with this entire­ly gra­tu­itous vio­lence against an old spy?  Skri­pal was exchanged as part of a spy swap. If peo­ple are going to swap spies and then kill them, there won’t be any spy swaps in the future.  A KGB per­son like Putin is the last per­son who is going to destroy the sys­tem of spy swaps. . . .”
  5. “ . . . . It adds fuel to the new Cold War.  The arma­ments indus­try are the pri­ma­ry peo­ple who ben­e­fit.  This kind of thing is very good for defense bud­gets. It is very good news for the spies and secu­ri­ty ser­vices.  Here in the UK the indus­try employs over 100,000 peo­ple. In a coun­try of 60 mil­lion, this is a strong and very high­ly paid inter­est group.  All of these peo­ple are see­ing a major ramp­ing up of their bud­gets. When the peo­ple feed­ing-in the intel­li­gence are the same peo­ple who are ben­e­fit­ing finan­cial­ly from that sto­ry, then you have to wor­ry.  And par­tic­u­lar­ly for right-wing politi­cians this is a cheap way of get­ting sup­port. . . .”
  6. “ . . . . The oth­er thing about the Skri­pal case, of course, is the con­nec­tion to Orbis Intel­li­gence and Christo­pher Steele and Pablo Miller.  The per­son who wrote the dossier on Don­ald Trump for the Clin­ton cam­paign was Christo­pher Steele of Orbis Intel­li­gence. He was in MI6 in the Russ­ian Embassy in Moscow at the time when Skri­pal was a key dou­ble agent.  The guy who was respon­si­ble for han­dling Skri­pal on a day-to-day basis was Pablo Miller. Pablo Miller also worked for Orbis Intel­li­gence. The MI6 has nev­er had the close-up access to Putin that that dossier claims to have.  Plain­ly, a great deal of it is fab­ri­ca­tion. . . .”
  7. “ . . . . I strong­ly sus­pect that Mr. Skri­pal was involved in the pro­duc­tion of that dossier about Don­ald Trump.  I admit that this is cir­cum­stan­tial, but that dossier was pro­duced while Pablo Miller was work­ing for Orbis Intel­li­gence.  Like Mr. Steele, Pablo Miller was a for­mer MI6 agent in Rus­sia. And Pablo Miller was also liv­ing in Sal­is­bury, with­in a short dis­tance of Skri­pal.  If you are going to pro­duce a dossier which invents a lot of stuff about Don­ald Trump and his con­nec­tions to the cir­cle around Putin, you need a Russ­ian source who can give you names and lend the dossier a degree of authen­tic­i­ty.  I believe that that kind of detail is what Skri­pal pro­vid­ed to the Steele dossier. . . . .”
  8. “ . . . . the BBC report­ed the fact that Skripal’s han­dler in Rus­sia was now work­ing for Steele and that Skri­pal and Pablo Miller lived in the same town. . . .”

In addi­tion to the “Rus­sia-did-it,” same day analy­sis and the con­tra­dic­tions not­ed above, we are being treat­ed to journalistic/analytical shape-shift­ing about the method of deliv­ery of the alleged agent. We are being told that:

  1. The poi­son was “plant­ed in [Skir­pal’s] daugh­ter’s suit­case” [8]:  ” . . . . Russ­ian assas­sins plant­ed the nerve agent that poi­soned Russ­ian ex-spy Sergei Skri­pal in his daughter’s suit­case before she left Moscow, British inves­ti­ga­tors now believe. . . .”
  2. No, the poi­son was admin­is­tered through the vents of Skir­pal’s car [9]”  . . . . Russ­ian assas­sins plant­ed the nerve agent that poi­soned Russ­ian ex-spy Sergei Skri­pal in his daughter’s suit­case before she left Moscow, British inves­ti­ga­tors now believe. . . . ”
  3. No, the poi­son was admin­is­tered by a Russ­ian MINI DRONE [10]”  . . . . The MI5’s agents fear a Russ­ian hit-team tar­get­ed Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter, Yulia, using a gad­get spe­cial­ly designed for assas­si­na­tions. Intel­li­gence sources believe Mr Skri­pal, 66, and his 33-year-old daugh­ter could have been sprayed with the nerve agent from a remote-con­trolled drone hov­er­ing above them as they sat on a bench in Sal­is­bury. . . .”
  4. No, the poi­son was smeared on the door han­dle of Skir­pal’s car [11]” . . . . White­hall sources have sug­gest­ed on the­o­ry under close exam­i­na­tion is that Mr Skri­pal was poi­soned when he touched the door han­dle of his car, which had been smeared with the nerve agent. . . .”

We also note that Por­ton Down–the UK’s top CBW research facil­i­ty, is rough­ly 12 miles from Sal­is­bury. Although not con­clu­sive, it is an inter­est­ing, and pos­si­bly sig­nif­i­cant, coin­ci­dence.

We also note that tech­ni­cians at Por­ton Down have not been able to iden­ti­fy [12] the coun­try of ori­gin of the “Novi­chok.” ” . . . . ‘We have not iden­ti­fied the pre­cise source, but we have pro­vid­ed the sci­en­tif­ic info to Gov­ern­ment who have then used a num­ber of oth­er sources to piece togeth­er the con­clu­sions you have come to.’ . . . .”

1.  “Nerve Tox­in Used on Ex-Spy ‘Was Plant­ed in Daugh­ter’s Suit­case” by Nick Miller; Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald; 3/16/2018. [8]

Lon­don: Russ­ian assas­sins plant­ed the nerve agent that poi­soned Russ­ian ex-spy Sergei Skri­pal in his daughter’s suit­case before she left Moscow, British inves­ti­ga­tors now believe.

Intel­li­gence agency sources told Lon­don’s Tele­graph they strong­ly sus­pect the 66-year-old’s daugh­ter Yulia Skri­pal, 33, unknow­ing­ly car­ried a piece of cloth­ing, cos­met­ics or a gift impreg­nat­ed with the tox­in into his house in Sal­is­bury, where it poi­soned both of them. . . .

2. “Sergei Skir­pal Pos­si­bly Poi­soned Through Car’s Air Vents, Say US Media” [ABC News]; The Guardian [UK]; 3/18/2018.  [9]

The for­mer dou­ble agent Sergei Skri­pal [13] and his daugh­ter, Yulia, could have been exposed to a dead­ly nerve agent through his car’s ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem, US media have report­ed.

The pair remain crit­i­cal­ly ill in hos­pi­tal after being exposed to the nerve agent novi­chok in Sal­is­bury, in the UK, two weeks ago.

The US organ­i­sa­tion ABC News report­ed that intel­li­gence offi­cials had said the nature of the sub­stance used, described as “dusty”, was now clear and that UK offi­cials had a bet­ter pic­ture of how the attack was car­ried out, say­ing that the Skri­pals could have been exposed to the sub­stance through the BMW’s ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem. . . .

3. “MI5 Fears Assas­sins Used MINI DRONE to Poi­son Spy Sergei Skir­pal and His Daugh­ter” by Patrick Williams; Dai­ly Star; 3/18/2018. [10]

The MI5’s agents fear a Russ­ian hit-team tar­get­ed Sergei Skri­pal and his daugh­ter, Yulia, using a gad­get spe­cial­ly designed for assas­si­na­tions.

Intel­li­gence sources believe Mr Skri­pal, 66, and his 33-year-old daugh­ter could have been sprayed with the nerve agent from a remote-con­trolled drone hov­er­ing above them as they sat on a bench in Sal­is­bury.

The use of a drone would also explain why there were no eye-wit­ness­es to the attack and no CCTV footage of the cou­ple being poi­soned.

A source said: “Every sin­gle pos­si­ble sce­nario is being looked at. We know the Rus­sians have been exper­i­ment­ing with weaponised minia­ture drones.

We believe they may have been used in Syr­ia and the Ukraine and on oth­er assas­si­na­tion oper­a­tions. . . .

4. “Rus­sia Attack: Shock Claims Nerve Agent Was Smeared on Sergei Skir­pal’s Door Han­dle” by Simon Osborne; Dai­ly Express [UK]; 3/14/2018. [11]

. . . . Mr Basu said find­ing out how the nerve agent was admin­is­tered was now the main focus of the inves­ti­ga­tion but warned the inquiry will take many weeks.

White­hall sources have sug­gest­ed on the­o­ry under close exam­i­na­tion is that Mr Skri­pal was poi­soned when he touched the door han­dle of his car, which had been smeared with the nerve agent.

Experts said the nerve agent could also have been put in the car’s ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem or dust­ed on the inside. Only a tiny amount would be need­ed. . . .

5. “Por­ton Down Experts Unable to Iden­ti­fy ‘Pre­cise Source’ of Novi­chok that Poi­soned Spy” by Paul Kel­so; Sky News; 4/4/2018. [12]

Sci­en­tists from Por­ton Down have not been able to estab­lish where the novi­chok nerve agent used to poi­son Sergei and Yulia Skri­pal was made. 

Gary Aitken­head, chief exec­u­tive of the Defence Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ry (DSTL) at Por­ton Down, told Sky News they were not yet able to prove it was made in Rus­sia.

He said: “We were able to iden­ti­fy it as novi­chok, to iden­ti­fy that it was mil­i­tary-grade nerve agent.

“We have not iden­ti­fied the pre­cise source, but we have pro­vid­ed the sci­en­tif­ic info to Gov­ern­ment who have then used a num­ber of oth­er sources to piece togeth­er the con­clu­sions you have come to.” . . . .