10 May 2020 — Caitlin Johnson
By Caitlin Johnson
It’s been over 72 hours since The Grayzone published new leaks further exposing how the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been lying about its investigation into an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria two years ago.
These new documents make it abundantly clear that OPCW leadership were just plain lying when they claimed that a ballistics expert named Ian Henderson was not a part of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Douma and played only a “minor supporting role” there. Henderson disagrees with the organisation’s official findings implicating the Syrian government in a chlorine gas attack, finding instead that the gas cylinders on the scene were “manually placed”, indicating that the crime scene was staged and the dozens of civilians killed were the victims of a still-unsolved mass murder.
The silence on these revelations from the OPCW and its usual narrative managers has been deafening.
— Peter Hitchens (@ClarkeMicah) May 8, 2020
Peter Hitchens, one of the only high-visibility journalists to cover the OPCW scandal, tweeted when the documents first emerged: “I have today formally requested OPCW public affairs to comment on these allegations, which call into question an important statement made by the organisation’s chief and retailed by lapcat Bellingcat about the status of Inspector Ian Henderson.”
“No reply yet from OPCW public affairs, to my query about Greyzone allegations, devastating if true both to official position of OPCW and to lapcat Bellingcat,” Hitchens tweeted a day later.
This silence makes it clear that the OPCW, Bellingcat, and all the other empire-aligned propagandists responsible for managing the mainstream narrative about Syria have opted for the strategy of simply not responding to the damning leaks in order to avoid drawing attention to them. This is actually a very clever (albeit sociopathic) tactic, because western mass media have already clearly demonstrated a collective conspiracy of silence on the OPCW scandal, which is its own scandal in itself. They know they can keep these leaks out of mainstream attention, thereby nullifying their massive implications for western imperialism going forward, simply by ignoring them.
You can understand their frustration, then, when an immensely popular celebrity uses her giant platform to amplify this highly unauthorized news story.
“The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has made false and misleading statements about two veteran inspectors who challenged a cover-up of their investigation in Syria, leaked documents show.”https://t.co/k8ziZSPVVt via @TheGrayzoneNews @aaronjmate
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) May 8, 2020
Actress Susan Sarandon has highlighted the latest revelations in the ever-mounting OPCW scandal on Twitter, and the frantic reaction from Syria spinmeisters makes a perfect illustration of the primacy of narrative control for western warmongers.
War reporter Janine di Giovanni, whose promotion of imperialist narratives and fawning puff pieces over the White Helmets propaganda operation have seen her showered with access and awards by establishment institutions, admonished Sarandon to “refrain from talking about Syria”, making no other argument than the fact that the two have mutual celebrity acquaintances.
“Susan, you are one of my favorite actresses,” said di Giovanni in a now-deleted tweet. “We have friends in common in France via Louis Malle. Please, please refrain from talking about Syria – those of us who worked on the ground documenting war crimes for years (NOT on the regime side) find it excruciatingly. Please stop.”
Again, this is an award-winning professional reporter who frequently publishes in some of the most high-profile outlets in the world like The New York Times and The Guardian. The fact that someone so elevated and so esteemed would find it perfectly normal to publicly cite her friendship with celebrities as a reason for a Hollywood actress to be silent about western imperialism tells you everything you need to know about the state of journalism today, and the “authoritative sources” that are being amplified by Silicon Valley tech giants over voices which actually challenge power like The Grayzone.
— For the blocked and For the record (@FTBandFTR) May 9, 2020
Di Giovanni babbled about Russian trolls and cited her friendship with mutual celebrity friends of Sarandon because she did not have any actual facts or arguments to cite against the information Sarandon was sharing. This is because such facts and arguments do not exist. There is no legitimate reason why people should not be publicly discussing and amplifying important authentic documents, so all they’re left with is various iterations of “shut up”.
And indeed if you look at what people are saying about Sarandon’s post on Twitter right now, that is all you will find: mountains of vitriol and precisely zero facts or arguments. These people have no interest in truth, only in controlling the narrative about what’s happening in a nation that has long been targeted for regime change by the US-centralized empire.
“I’m sorry it has come to this, Susan. But having explained to you many times why your conspiracy theories are wrong, dangerous, and hurtful, I can say without a shadow of doubt that you are an idiot without a conscience,” said the despicable Idrees Ahmad, whose narrative management on Syria is so insanely aggressive that it has literally seen him threaten oppositional journalists with menacing phone calls in order to scare them away from reporting on Syria.
A quick glance through Ahmad’s previous tweets to Sarandon reveals that the reasons he has been giving her for why her “conspiracy theories are wrong” are actually “reasons” which are debunked in the very article Sarandon just shared.
“Ian Henderson, a disgruntled OPCW employee, sent his speculative assessment to the ‘Working Group’. But when the working group tried to establish his credentials, the OPCW confirmed that he was NOT part of the Fact Finding Mission,” Ahmad tweeted at Sarandon when she shared an article of mine on the Henderson leak last year.
“Did you read the OPCW statement where it says the man who wrote it is not part of the fact finding mission? Which means he had no direct access to evidence or the site,” Ahmad tweeted to Sarandon elsewhere.
Ian Henderson, a disgruntled OPCW employee, sent his speculative assessment to the “Working Group”. But when the working group tried to establish his credentials, the OPCW confirmed that he was NOT part of the Fact Finding Mission. Which means, he had no direct access. pic.twitter.com/ArT6y8gh11
— Idrees Ahmad (@im_PULSE) May 18, 2019
Ahmad has no interest whatsoever in truth or facts, but only in trying to mitigate the damage done to the establishment narrative control agenda that Sarandon’s tweet caused. Which will surprise no one who knows anything about him.
The only narrative manager who to my knowledge has made any attempt at all to even address the contents of the new OPCW leaks has been Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins, who took the somewhat bizarre approach of telling people that they cannot see the evidence that is directly in front of their faces.
“No, it doesn’t show he was in the FFM, this issue is addressed in the OPCW report, he was asked to support the work of the FFM, but he wasn’t part of the FFM,” Higgins tweeted about Henderson under Sarandon’s post.
This claim is of course directly refuted by the leaked mission personnel list in the Grayzone article Sarandon shared which very clearly and explicitly lists Ian Henderson as “FFM” under the column labeled “Title”.
So it’s been a very revealing ride. We were lied to about Syria, and the narrative managers responsible for manipulating public perception of that lie have been falling all over themselves trying to conceal this obvious fact. Here’s hoping the truth keeps coming into the light, and that those with platforms large enough to punch through the propaganda matrix continue to do so.