Syria

Degrading Discourse

broken masksSharmine Narwani and Radwan Mortada published an investigative piece on Narwani’s blog for Al-Akhbar English yesterday, which raises doubts about the UN chemical weapons (CW) report on Syria. I think they do a worthy job of pointing out the investigators’ indebtedness to rebel-friendly tour guides on the inspection dates (which the report also mentions), but the most potentially damaging element of their piece is the question they raise about where sarin was deployed in the area and the delivery mechanisms used.

Looking closely at the UN report’s Appendix 7, Narwani and Mortada argue that one of the sites surveyed shows a very high exposure to sarin among its residents but not a single environmental sample that demonstrated exposure to the gas:

There is not a single environmental sample in Moadamiyah that tested positive for Sarin. This is a critical piece of information. These samples were taken from “impact sites and surrounding areas” identified by numerous parties, not just random areas in the town. Furthermore, in Moadamiyah, the environmental samples were taken five days after the reported CW attack, whereas in Ein Tarma and Zamalka – where many samples tested positive for Sarin – UN investigators collected those samples seven and eight days post-attack, when degradation of chemical agents could have been more pronounced. Yet it is in Moadamiyah where alleged victims of a CW attack tested highest for Sarin exposure, with a positive result of 93% and 100% (the discrepancy in those numbers is due to different labs testing the same samples). In Zamalka, the results were 85% and 91%.

It is scientifically improbable that survivors would test that highly for exposure to Sarin without a single trace of environmental evidence testing positive for the chemical agent.

I have no way to verify this claim, but it has the virtue of sounding reasonable. On the other hand, when we look closely at the Appendix they are drawing this conclusion from, it turns out that while none of the 13 Moadamiyah environmental samples tested positive for sarin, five of them did test positive for either isopropyl methylphosphonate (IPMPA) or diisopropyl methylphosphonate (DIMP), the chemical substances that sarin degrades into.

So here’s a question: does anything else degrade into IPMPA or DIMP? 

The author of the Moon of Alabama blog (which was the first to raise doubts about Appendix 7, a few days before Narwani-Mortada published their post) argues in a comment to a doubting reader:

A few “degradation and by-products” in some four probes out of thirteen could be anything. None of the probes has a CW agent while the probes taken later at a different place finds CW agents. Byproducts of organophosphate degradations are the same as from some fertilizer or some solid rocket fuels. They do NOT point to CW agents.

Is this true? I don’t know. This article in The Guardian argues that isopropyl methylphosphonic acid is considered “proof positive for sarin”. Maybe someone can confirm this for me. This would be an important step to determine whether Narwani and Mortada are justified in arguing that “there was no Sarin CW attack in Moadamiyah. There can’t have been – according to this environmental data.”

The next section in the post tries to raise questions about human testing, which is puzzling because the chief witness they call confirms that sarin was “clearly used,” perhaps alongside other unknown substances. The final section of the post addresses the question of rocket trajectories, which has formed the basis of the conviction among most Western analysts that the sarin was delivered by rockets that the rebels would not have had access to, from a location occupied by regime forces.

Here, Narwani and Mortada argue that one of the two impact sites that the UN felt could be used to judge rocket trajectories should be immediately discarded (i.e. Moadamiyah) because the rocket “was not found to have traces of Sarin, and is therefore not part of any alleged CW attack.”

But Appendix 7 shows that two samples taken of metal fragments in Moadamiyah tested positive for the trace chemical that sarin degrades into. Am I missing something? It seems to me that the UN covered its bases quite thoroughly by pointing out that the rockets could have been moved and the impact sites tampered with prior to their arrival, so we should be cautious about what conclusions to draw. But surely an alternative explanation would require a much greater burden of proof, given the contamination of the 330mm rocket in Ein Tarma.

This post is not meant to be a take-down of the Akhbar piece, just a request for some crowd-sourced clarification. If anyone at the UN would like to get in touch to comment on the report, send me an email via the contact page.

Discussion

198 thoughts on “Degrading Discourse

  1. Even if organophosphates degraded into those products, it would still suggest the Moadamiyah rocket was loaded with some sort of organophosphate.

    Posted by John Arterbury (@MothraAttack) | September 24, 2013, 9:24 am
  2. From wikipedia: “The initial breakdown of sarin is into isopropyl methylphosphonic acid (IMPA), a chemical that is not commonly found in nature except as a breakdown product of sarin. IMPA then degrades into methylphosphonic acid (MPA), which can also be produced by other organophosphates.[15]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarin#Degradation_and_shelf_life

    The UN team consisted of experts in chemistry of nerve agents. Non were interviewed for the Akhbar piece and for good reason. Just another attempt to muddy the water.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 9:29 am
  3. AIG
    I saw that already. Need something a little more sure-footed than a Wikipedia article.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 24, 2013, 9:37 am
  4. ‘Sarin is usually in liquid form and its effects can be seen in seconds and cause death within minutes,’ says Tom Bassindale, a forensic toxicologist and forensic science course leader at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. Various sample analysis methods are appropriate, according to Bassindale, particularly gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) or liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS). ‘These will test the biological samples for the presence of the parent compound and also the main breakdown product GB acid, or isopropyl methylphosphonic acid (IMPA),’ he explained. ‘IMPA is a unique marker of sarin exposure.’

    http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/06/french-sarin-detection-syria

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 9:46 am
  5. “The GC/MS analysis of Sarin hydrolysis products after TBDMS derivatisation was effective for confirming Sarin exposure, usage and production, and was used as definitive evidence in the court trial.”

    From: http://www.opcw.org/news/article/the-sarin-gas-attack-in-japan-and-the-related-forensic-investigation/

    Detection of IMPA (a sarin hydrolysis product) was definitive evidence in a court trial.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 9:58 am
  6. Oh great, political journalists trying to be scientists & balistics experts. What an insult. If anyone wants to denigrate the integrity of a UN report by arguing against the scientific investigation written by real experts, that person should be an expert too, not someone who has heard of IMPA for the first time this week…

    Posted by burger | September 24, 2013, 10:08 am
  7. Rather than generalizing, let us list all 13 samples one by one. You will see review below.
    There is only one undisputed positve sample – #1. The rest of the samples are either completely clean (no Sarin and no byproducts detected by both labs) – 8 samples. Or they are contested/disputed samples – 4 samples. The metal fragment samples are both disputed.

    The second lab’s results produced the overwhelming majority of contested/disputed samples. The first lab is only responsible for one. Query what happened between the first and the second labs and the reason for this material discrepancy.

    Sarin Presence

    #1 to #13 – No Sarin

    Breakdown Byproducts – Both Labs Consistent

    Only one sample, #1, is consistent for both labs – byproducts: Lab #1 IPMPA & DIMP, Lab #2 DIMP

    No Breakdown Byproducts – First Lab

    Samples #2 – #11 and # 13

    No Breakdown Byproducts – Second Lab

    Samples #6 – #8 and #10 – #13

    Breakdown Byproduct Present – First Lab

    #12 – IPMPA and #1 – IPMPA & DIMP

    Breakdown Byproducts Present – Second Lab

    #1, #2 – DIMP, IMPA, MPA, #3 – IPMPA, MPA, DIMP, #9 – DIMP

    Conclusions

    Completely Clean Samples:

    #4 – #8, #10, #11, and #13

    Disputed Samples (Difference Between Two Labs)

    #2, #3, #9, #12

    Positive Samples (Both Labs Indicate Byproducts)

    #1 (soil sample)

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 10:27 am
  8. Specifically for BURGER – here is a Chemical Weapons Expert’s analysis of the UN Report – equally as damning as Narwani’s article:

    http://strongpointsecurity.co.uk/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/D-Kaszeta-Comments-on-UN-Report.pdf

    Observations on the United Nation Report released 16 September, 2013
    Background paper by Dan Kaszeta, dan@kaszeta.org Twitter: @DanKaszeta
    Date of preparation: 19 September 2013

    About the author: Dan Kaszeta is the author of “CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events:
    Planning and Response” (Wiley, 2012) as well as a number of magazine articles and conference papers.
    He has 22 years of experience in CBRN, having served as an officer in the US Army Chemical Corps, as
    CBRN advisor for the White House Military Office, and as a specialist in the US Secret Service. He now
    runs Strongpoint Security, a London-based CBRN and antiterrorism consultancy. Mr. Kaszeta also holds
    a part-time post as Senior Research Fellow with the International Institute of Nonproliferation Studies and
    is a contributor to Wikistrat.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 11:00 am
  9. Gleb

    Dan’s report is not equally damning. He actually says that sarin gas was clearly used. He also says that the by-products could almost certainly not be from anything other than sarin. Follow him on Twitter to confirm what I’m saying.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 24, 2013, 12:07 pm
  10. IPMPA and DIMP are available commercially (google for suppliers). They could easily be used to contaminate a site, and IPMPA could be used also to produce individuals whose blood and urine would test positive for sarin. The only test that would require actual sarin to produce a (true or faked) positive result is a blood test for sarin-BChE adduct. The UN report gives no information on what tests were done on the blood and urine.

    Posted by pmr9 | September 24, 2013, 12:49 pm
  11. These rebels are becoming more sophisticated by the minute.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 24, 2013, 12:54 pm
  12. Qifa, two points:

    (1) I am following Dan on twitter and am well aware that he is not ad idem with Sharmine on every point;

    (2) However, to a scientifically-minded person, who has read Dan’s report carefully, it is as damning, possibly more so than Sharmine’s article. There are issues throughout for a scientist (I am not and do not claim to be, but being a lawyer does not hurt) – atrocious sampling of survivors, poor methodology, ignored (but disclosed) caveats, etc., etc. I can go into more detail, but best to read the report itself.

    Consider Dan’s question of the lack of miosis in surveyed individuals, for instance. That, alone, is a far more significant indictment of the UN report than anything Sharmine had written. It is not possible for individuals that had suffered seizures/loss of consciousness to not have miosis (even a week later – effect lasts for weeks). Moreover, it is hardly possible for such individuals to survive – seizures/loss of consciousness are penultimate to death, which may occur second-minutes thereafter. Very aggressive atropine treatment would be necessary. The simple explanation is that reported symptoms of seizures/loss of consciousness were severely overstated. A more complicated explanation is that something else was used in addition to Sarin, which caused these symptoms – but that would also suggest that the symptoms from sarin itself are much overstated. You cannot have lack of miosis and pervasive seizures/loss of consciousness. Not possible.

    The conclusatory nature of much of the report is big problem – caveats are stated, but then ignored in favour of rushing to conclusions. Bad science, simply put. The presentation of data is very disorganized. These are teams/labs working on the project – they could have produced a far more polished and professional report in the 2/3 of the months that they were given.

    That Sarin was present in Zamalka/Ghouta more broadly is indisputable. How did it get there is a different question altogether. You should consider the findings presented here: http://www.whoghouta.blogspot.ca, and, in particular, the http://www.whoghouta.blogspot.ca/2013/09/umlaca-simulation.html, which is an open-software simulation of the UMLACA (unidentified shell in Zamalka). Sasa’s conclusions are that:

    (1) the found UMLACA had a range of 2.4 – 3.5 km at most, and that is being somewhat charitable;
    (2) elsewhere, Sasa’s conclusion, based on the photographs and videos, is that UN’s azimuth is wrong – the Zamalka missiles likely came from the north, not north-west. But, see for yourself.

    How we even begin to determine azimuths and such is a puzzle for me – when UN states, unequivocally, that ALL sites had been handled/manipulated and were contaminated for the purposes of evidence-gathering.

    (3) Finally, put Dan’s report together with the missile found in Moadamiya. It’s 140mm shell, which was manufactured and sold to Syria (or another Soviet client) in 1967 (correllates with the dates the BM-14 platform and M-14 rockets were sold to Syria: 1967-1969). BM-14s and M-14s were decommissioned by Syria by 1990 and replaced entirely with M-21 “Grad” systems. Syria does not have 140mm shells (which require the decommissioned BM-14s for launch) in its active arsenal. Possibly in storage, but unclear why, when there is nothing to shoot them with. The M-14 missile is by now 46 years old. Its life-expectancy is 40 years, possibly somewhat longer, given the dry Syrian climate. All that to say is that I would doubt the M-14 missile found by the UN could even be fired. And that’s completely apart from the issue of the CW warhead. Syria did not have a CW program until 1990, and so any warheads it would have created for the purpose would have been fitted to BM-21 “Grad” 122mm missiles, not to the M-14s.

    (Before you refer me to Eliot Higgins (Brown Moses), I have presented this data and more and asked him twice to comment, but he has failed to say anythign on the subject – although we have already communicated by email and on twitter repeatedly)

    (4) In the context of 3, it illuminates why there is such a dearth of evidence of Sarin and byproducts in Moadamiya. It’s very unlikely, in my opinion, that the M-14 carried any Sarin (not even sure it was launched, and, if launched, then by whom?). The results on the missile itself conflict between the 2 labs used by the UN.

    (5) 8 of 13 samples are completely clean – no Sarin or byproducts. Only one sample is positive for both labs – for byproducts (and there is sufficient scientific data to suggest that certain byproducts from agricultural organophosphates could be confused with Sarin’s breakdown byproducts). 4 remaining samples are conflicted between the two labs. The UN report fails to consider or to address this material discrepancy – not sure why. The whole point of using more than one lab is for quality control. If you are not going to care about the discrepancy, then just use one lab.

    (6) Sarin was found on the Zamalka rocket – why not on the M-14?

    So, in conclusion, Dan’s report is far more damning than you may think. Consider it from a scientific perspective. Shoddy science leads to shoddy results. I can tell you, that, in court (say in a case I was conducting), I could destroy the UN “expert” report in about 30-45 minutes tops.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 12:54 pm
  13. Qifa.

    Whether the rebels are sophisticate or not is beyond the point. The FSA includes defectors from the Syrian army – so the opposition may well be more sophisticate than we understand.

    But the rebel’s sophistication is relevant only if conclude that they are the only ones on the ground in Syria, and the only actors that could have perpetrated the incident. It is widely known that Saudi Arabia is heavily involved in Syria, and that Saudi agents operate inside the country, in the middle of the conflict – consider for instance that they were able to retrieve an alleged Syrian who suffered a sarin poisoning for US, etc. to conduct tests that were publically used as an argument to intervene prior to the Aug 21, 2013 incident. In fact, that’s what Sharmine’s UN sources appear to indicate (I think it’s in her article, although I may be remembering something I saw on twitter from another report – no I am not talking about Gavlak et al, before you ask).

    So, given Saudi involvement, their expressed desire to get the US involved, and the ability to stage the August 21, 2013 incident, we cannot simply dismiss the possibility of opposition (or anti-Syrian actors, whichever you prefer) involvement in the August 21, 2013 incident. Whether or not that is in fact what happened, is another question. But to dismiss the possibility in reliance on the oppositions alleged scientific or operational ineptitude is wrong-headed.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 1:07 pm
  14. Qifa at 12:54 pm

    Faking tests for sarin would not require “rebels” to be “sophisticated”. This WSJ article (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323423804579024452583045962.html) makes clear that Saudi intelligence has been behind the effort to gather evidence of sarin exposure and bring it to the attention of western governments since last winter.

    If you think it’s implausible that an intelligence service in wartime would concoct an elaborate deception, read the story of Operation Mincemeat.

    Posted by pmr9 | September 24, 2013, 1:19 pm
  15. Gleb,

    Stop with the nonsense. Dan says clearly in the report: “I am not stating
    that Sarin was not used. It clearly was. My point is that it is either not behaving as we
    have understood it in the past or that other factors were at work in addition to Sarin.”

    He then goes on to explain why there may be a discrepancy including the following:
    “By definition, dead people cannot be interviewed. Since Sarin is highly lethal, the
    people with the most severe signs and symptoms are unavailable for interview.”

    As for the methodology used, Dan clearly states at the beginning of the document:
    “General:
    Overall, I am generally satisfied with the methodology of the inspection team as
    described in the report. Appendix 7 contains the most interesting information. There
    was a practical limit to the amount and type of samples that the team was able to take,
    due to their size and access. I believe that this report is conclusive evidence that Sarin
    was used, both because of the environmental evidence and the medical evidence.”

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 1:20 pm
  16. The bigger question is why Obama has yet to destroy any Baathist assets. Israel got the message they were looking for.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 24, 2013, 1:29 pm
  17. Gleb,
    Brown Moses provides strong evidence that UMLACA is a Syrian army weapon and has been used before from Mezzeh:
    http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/evidence-of-syrian-army-using-munitions.html

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 1:34 pm
  18. Have you asked Rania Masri to weigh in?

    Posted by itinerantcook2013 | September 24, 2013, 2:23 pm
  19. AIG, I do not take kindly to suggestions that what I say is “nonsense.” However, whatever.

    (1) WHAT PART of what I wrote AND ATTRIBUTED TO DAN contradicts Dan’s report? Where have I mislead anyone with respect to what Dan wrote? Please quote, indicate, anything. I am entitled to my own opinions. I am also entitled to build upon and extrapolate from the work of others, using my own findings and logic. I am using Dan’s analysis and applying the filter of scientific assessment he proposes to UN’s report. If Dan disagrees – that’s his opinion. In my opinion, the report is a mess from a scientific standpoint. Much more could and should have been done in the time allotted.

    If you prefer to stick to analysis and opinions of others without considering them from your own perspective – that’s your prerogative. I have used data, info and conclusions from Dan’s report and re-analyzed the UN Report from that standpoint. Many issues he picks up on I had already come to on my own, almost a week ago, when I first read the UN Report.

    (2) Brown Moses (I prefer Eliot Higgins) can say whatever he wants about UMLACA and Syrian army’s use thereof. My biggest argument – and the biggest failing of this entire CW incident – is the use of the M-14 artillery shell. THAT is a glaring problem screaming for an answer. UMLACAs are far more complicated. However, on one point Mr. Higgins is obviously wrong – the point about UMLACA’s association with the Falagh-2 system. Given the dimensions of the UMLACA and its properties, compared to the FM2-A missile used in Falagh-2, there is no possibility that the UMLACA could be fired using that platform. The two missiles are radically different.

    (3) As for evidence on who used the UMLACAs and their origin – all of Mr. Higgins’ analysis and evidence is based on review of videos and subsequent extrapolation, anaysis, speculation, and conjecture. That is what is getting us all in trouble in the first place. But even Mr. Higgins does not unequivocally suggest that the UMLACA is a creature of the Syrian army – he is more reserved than you are on this subject.

    (4) In any event, I cannot comment much on the UMLACA, except some general observations – I leave it to Sasa Wawa and Brown Moses – who have done more thinking on the subject. I simply do not have the time to invest as they have into this work. Maybe later. My primary “ballistic” concern is the glaringly suspicious M-14 shell, which has no place on the Syrian battlefield. Where did it come from?

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 2:43 pm
  20. AIG,

    While we are at it – the biggest smoking gun of Dan’s report is the lack of miosis, as I discuss above. Given the allegedly heavy exposure to sarin (which would be required for the victims to experience seizures/loss of consciousness, effects that are penultimate to a very rapid death), miosis should have been present in all the surveyed victims, but only 14% had it. Here is scientific data on the subject (cited by Dan):

    Munro NB, Ambrose KR, Warson AP
    Toxicity of the organophosphate chemical warfare agents GA, GB, and VX: Implications for public protection. Environ. Health Perspect. 1994;102:13-37.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1567233/pdf/envhper00389-0018.pdf

    Within seconds after exposure to low levels of nerve agent vapor, local effects may be observed in the eyes and the respiratory system of humans. Depending on the agent and the dosage, the local ocular effects may be a constriction of the pupils of the eye (miosis) lasting only several days or a prolonged miosis persisting for many weeks (39,40), pain, and/or dim vision (29).

    This bit of data is incredibly damning – far more so than anything Sharmine (with all due (and honest) respect) has put forward.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 2:56 pm
  21. Oh, and AIG – here is my statement from a previous post: “That Sarin was present in Zamalka/Ghouta more broadly is indisputable.” Where Dan and I may differ (not sure if we do, he would have to clarify) is whether evidence is so clear in the case of Moadamiya. My analysis suggests that it is very unlikely Sarin was deployed in Moadamiya. For instance, if only Lab 1 is considered, only 2 of 13 samples indicate any byproducts. If Lab 2 is considered, only 5 samples indicate the presence of byproducts. But only in one case do the Labs agree – a soil sample. Query, do we have some other organophosphate contamination? I cannot comment, I do not know, but, one thing is clear – in comparison to the substantial evidence of Sarin in Ghouta, the evidence in Moadamiya is very severely lacking. Also consider – pure Sarin, not byproducts, was identified on the UMLACA missiles in Ghouta, but no Sarin on the M-14 artillery shell. Why is that, if the shell was a delivery vehicle? Where is the warhead? Many more pieces of the UMLACA, but only one piece of the M-14 shell? Why? Even the byproduct identification on the M-14 shell is conflicted – Lab 1 say no, Lab 2 say yes. Which one was correct?

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 3:10 pm
  22. Gleb,

    You are a self professed lawyer and Dan is an expert in his field. You claim to interpret what Dan says and reach different conclusions than he does. So when you say the report is a scientific mess, based on what Dan writes, when Dan says the opposite, you are talking nonsense at worst and at best voicing an uninformed opinion. You are of course entitled to your views, misplaced as they are.

    As for the miosis issue, how is it damning? Dan explicitly says in his report and in his tweets that there is no doubt sarin was used. Furthermore, in the end of the report he provides several good reasons for the miosis discrepancies. So Dan the expert does not see it as damning, but you the lawyer do. Nice try.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 3:18 pm
  23. Are we still having this argument?

    And is no one going to point out that Al Akhbar has a credibility problem?

    Posted by faysalitani | September 24, 2013, 3:25 pm
  24. Gleb,

    And as a lawyer, let’s see you make a case that anybody else than the regime did it. You would be laughed out of court. The evidence is overwhelming and pointing all to the regime. You can try shooting holes in the evidence as much as you like, but you have not put forward ONE plausible alternative theory with ONE shred of evidence. Saying that the Saudis or the Martians did it is easy. Let see ONE bit of evidence that is of the quality the UN Report and Brown Moses put forward. Please do tell us how the rebels obtained weapon grade sarin, something that only Israel has in the region. Where did the Saudis get the sarin from? It was not made in Bandar’s cellar. Where did they get the rockets to fire it? How did they get the rockets to regime territory and fire them and then get the trucks back to rebel territory safely?

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 3:28 pm
  25. Gleb, I don’t understand. You write ” Depending on the agent and the dosage, the local ocular effects MARY BE constriction of the pupils of the eye (miosis) lasting only several days or a prolonged miosis persisting for many weeks (39,40), pain, and/or dim vision (29).”

    May be! How is the fact that it was not found in most people who were not dead, so people who were exposed weakly enough to survive, be a proof that they were not exposed to sarin gas?!

    Posted by Serious Sam | September 24, 2013, 3:36 pm
  26. Gleb,

    Why are you trying so hard to denigrate this UN report? What is it that led you on this quest to so adamantly try to twist and bend the findings to say the opposite of what they blatantly say? You clearly say you’re not a scientist, yet you are criticizing scientific method, why all this enthusiasm to prove it wasn’t the Syrian regime? Or to prove that the UN is biased?

    Posted by burger | September 24, 2013, 4:13 pm
  27. Oh, dear AIG,

    (1) I am hardly a “self-professed lawyer.” The unfortunate albatross around my neck is that I am, in fact, a lawyer, a litigator with 8 years of experience. But that is beyond the point, I was merely making an argument by analogy.

    (2) It appears that your only resort is to cite what Dan says and tell me that I am wrong because Dan and I disagree in our conclusions. For your information, part of the advantage of me being a litigator is that I get to review expert reports for use in court on a regular basis. I know very well how a good expert report looks and reads. In my professional opinion, the UN Report is very poorly prepared. I don’t have to agree or disagree with Dan on this issue. I can draw on the experience of eight years of dealing with expert reports – from medical opinions to engineering reports to chemical analyses (in the context of environmental litigation). So, no, Dan does not have a monopoly on assessing whether or not the UN Report is well prepared. Not only am I entitled to disagree with Dan, but I am also able to back my words up with my own expertise.

    (3) As a litigator, I also learn fast. I am often required to take on cases in areas I know nothing about – from environmental contamination to plastics manufacturing, from IP/electronics patents to aviation. So I study, review, educate myself, and then am able to cross-examine experts and go toe-to-toe with them in the court room (and defeat their arguments).

    (4) The issue of miosis is damning because it clearly is. Instead of having an emotional reaction, consider my arguments carefully first. Try to understand what I am saying. try to engage them substantively. It leads nowhere if you engage me on an emotional level and throw sophistry my way. If you want to talk and argue, let us argue on the basis of substance behind my arguments, not on the basis of what Dan says or does not say, and whether or not his professional genitalia are larger than mine (Dan, no offence to you, just making a point in a graphical manner:) ).

    (5) Ok, so, on the issue of miosis, one more time. Significant exposure to Sarin, that leads to the death-preceding symptoms of seizures/loss of consciousness, would result in severe and lasting miosis (if you don’t think Dan would agree, see my reference to a scientific paper on the subject, above). Only 14% of surveyed victims had the miosis condition observed at the time of the examination. Convulsions were reported by 19% (higher than 14%) and loss of consciousness was reported by 78% (much higher than 14%). I am not even bringing up the other symptoms more severe than miosis. Miosis is always the first symptom, as far as I have read.

    The numbers do not reconcile. Logically thinking about the issue, only 14% of those surveyed should have experienced the more severe symptoms. And yet a very significant majority is reporting them. How could that be? Well, either (a) the victims are severely exaggerating their symptoms (i.e. they did not have seizures/loss of consciousness, and are simply being untruthful) and the levels of sarin exposure were much lower than has been alleged – but, then, why?, or (b) another agent or cause was present that resulted in the more severe symptoms – but, then, what was that cause? There is no discussion of this in the UN report, which points to very unsophisticated thinking on this issue and failure to consider all the possibilities and alternatives – i.e. a rush to conclusions.

    (5) Yes, as a lawyer who can learn the subject quickly and who has dealt with many experts reports in his practice, and critiqued, analyzed and worked with experts – and cross-examined them – I do not believe that the UN report is a proper scientific report. It should have been much, much better.

    (6) As for this quote from Dan: “The environmental samples, detailed in Appendix 7 are fairly conclusive and damning evidence of use of Sarin,” note that he does not differentiate between Moadamiya and Ghouta results. To me (and to anybody who applies a bit of logic to the issue) the difference is striking and significant. I have detailed above the issues with the environmental samples taken from the Moadamiya site. The evidence from Moadamiya is so weak compared to the Ghouta evidence, that it is virtually non-existent. Only one sample from Moadamiya has a conclusive, positive result – and then only of Sarin by-products, not Sarin itself. Only for 5 samples is there any indication of Sarin byproducts. The rest of the samples are blank. Ask Dan directly what he thinks of this discrepancy between the two sites and let us see what he says. If the issue were debated in court, the Moadamiya Sarin allegations would not hold much weight. A competing analysis of the data (given the conflict between the 2 Labs used) could well disprove Sarin allegations in Moadamiya entirely.

    Note that I am not disputing the presence of Sarin in Ghouta. That much is sufficiently well established.

    (6) I suppose we all take from that which we read what we want to take from that. Let me just leave you with a few comments on statements made by Dan that suggest a relative unease with the UN Report:

    The difference between the pre-Ghouta understanding of Sarin exposure syndrome and the UN report is striking. In particular, I would like to highlight a number of paradoxes in the UN figures.

    – Code for: Let me highlight striking and paradoxical discrepancies and then analyze them – BECAUSE the UN Report fails to raise, mention or analyze these problems.

    Since the environmental samples were analyzed quite closely for MPA, IMPA, and related compounds, I presume that the blood testing did so as well. But I feel that the report should have been specific in this regard.

    – Code for: where is your methodology, UN? We know you did tests, but what tests did you do exactly? This is pretty shoddy for a scientific report, to fail to mention or elaborate on the methodology used in the key testing phase.

    The blood samples are interesting, but I wish that the report was more clear as to their methodology.

    – Code for: same as above.

    The embarrassing truth is that the level of detail in this report is high when compared to the earlier documents released by intelligence agencies in the US and UK. By comparison, the US and UK documents are unencumbered by hard facts and seem quite parsimonious in their level of detail. This raises the inevitable question of “why?’ – it would seem to be in the best interests of the US and UK to give the type and level of detail that the UN report gave.

    – This is something for you to consider. You keep saying that the evidence for regime culpability is overwhelming – but, until recently, that entire “evidence” was the allegations made by US/UK/French intelligence agencies. And Dan, quite correctly asks why was their evidence so poor. So, you say the evidence is overwhelming – but it’s clear that it is anything but. The UN Report does not indicate culpability, and others have already raised questions about the azimuth conclusions. And, as for the HRW report, it makes a ton of assumptions, starting with (1) purported range of the UMLACA missiles – well, what if they can only fly 3.5km, then what? Where did they come from?, and (2) the 140mm shell is clear evidence of regime responsibility – but it is anything but. If anything, the 140mm shell is one of the biggest questions and concerns in the entire theory of regime guilt.

    Overall, I am generally satisfied with the methodology of the inspection team as described in the report.

    – Code for: it could have been better. My only change to that is: it could have been and should have been much, much better.

    A report like the one presented by the UN would be ripped to shreds by an opposing expert. But we only have the UN. So, we must ask the questions ourselves.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 5:13 pm
  28. Serious Sam, let me address that:

    (1) First, I do not write this – it’s a direct citation from the relevant scientific paper on the subject, cited by Dan in his report. Dan actually makes the stronger point that miosis must have been present, based on our understanding of sarin to date – and that it would have been present possibly for weeks.

    (2) Second, you are simply misreading the quotation. “Depending on the agent and the dosage, the local ocular effects MARY BE constriction of the pupils of the eye (miosis) lasting only several days or a prolonged miosis persisting for many weeks (39,40), pain, and/or dim vision (29).” What it is saying is – “local ocular effects” could be one or the other of the two:

    (a) constriction of the pupils of the eye (miosis) lasting only several days; or,

    (b) prolonged miosis persisting for many weeks, pain, and/or dim vision.

    I.e. what the quotation is saying is that miosis will ALWAYS occur, but that the duration of miosis would depend on the specific nerve agent and the dosage or level of exposure:

    (a) if exposure is low, then miosis would last only several days; and,

    (b) if exposure is high, then miosis would last many weeks.

    In other words, miosis is a constant – the only question is how long it will last in the exposed person. If the exposure was severe (as would have to be for the reported seizures/loss of conciousness symptoms), then miosis would last much longer (up to many weeks) than if the exposure was low.

    Does that make sense? It’s not a “MAY BE” – it’s “YES”, but HOW LONG will VARY from days to many weeks.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 5:20 pm
  29. Serious Sam, also:

    (1) Where did I say that there was proof the surveyed victims were not exposed to Sarin gas?
    On the contrary, I was merely asking whether the reported symptoms were severely overstated – and that is one of the possibilities. Nowhere did I say that the surveyed victims were NOT exposed to Sarin. I ask you, please, read what I write carefully, if you wish to reply – it’s annoying being painted into a corner that I never asked to be in.

    (2) Again, read before you comment. The problem is that 78% of surveyed victims described suffering loss of consciousness. Loss of consciousness suggests a very severe level of exposure to Sarin – an effect that immediately precedes death. So, nobody is suggesting a “weak exposure” allowing the victims to survive. On the contrary, it appears these people barely escaped death. And yet, only 14% had miosis. For such significant levels of exposure miosis MUST HAVE been present.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 5:29 pm
  30. I’m enjoying myself immensely.

    Great debate, folks. Let’s keep it friendly.

    I think we should set aside the “was sarin used” question since everyone agrees it was. It’s just a matter of who did it. As we’re still waiting a final UN verdict on who killed 22 people on the Beirut Corniche on Feb 14 2005, it seems unlikely to me that this question will be settled any time soon.

    Still, it’s worth discussing.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 24, 2013, 5:39 pm
  31. Dear BURGER,
    I am not even sure how to start responding to this. What am I to do? Shut up and listen to you? But you are not providing any substance whatsoever – nothing that would allow me to gain better understanding.

    (1) How am I twisting/bending/etc. anything – can you point a flaw in my logic? Just a tiny bit? Or are you content with merely making allegations and assertions with a shred of substance? That’s just an ad hominem attack, my friend, and, usually, not worthy of a response.

    (2) I am not a scientist, but I am steeped in logic and have significant experience with expert reports. I can read and analyze them. But most importantly, I am entitled to question. I am doing that.

    The biggest question of all, where did you see enthusiasm on my part for proving the Syrian regime did not do it? How can I be exuberant about exonerating a person (al Assad) whom I consider more or less a monster? And what am I to do when I see errors, legitimate questions and significant concerns – sit back and let the big boys do the thinking for me? And, finally, where do I try to prove the UN report is biased? I have merely said that it is shoddy, unprofessional and contains many more questions than it does answers, and also seems to rush to conclusions, ignoring obvious concerns and discrepancies and self-imposed caveats in favour of getting to the results.

    I don’t believe there is such a thing as “objectivity”, at least as it is commonly defined. Me, you, the UN investigators, al Assad, Putin, Obama, Kerry, Eliot Higgins (Brown Moses), AIG, Sharmine Nadwani – all of us are “biased”, on way or another. I accept that and move on from there, and attempt to contribute my voice to the conversation.

    The fact is, I am posing questions. Those questions are clearly making you uncomfortable and making you ask whether the UN Report is “biased” or whether or not it was the al Assad regime that did it. Those are all your words, not mine. I, for my part, am not convinced that the al Assad regime DID NOT do it. But I am not convinced they did it either. I am trying to understand this for myself. If I am annoying you in my pursuit of understanding, feel free to ignore me. But DO NOT ascribe some form of hidden agenda to me. There is none. I think both sides in Syria have shown themselves to be monsters. Period. Full stop.

    Same applies to you, AIG – don’t bother me, I won’t bother you. Good luck.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 5:42 pm
  32. I feel AIG has met his match. Gleb, welcome to the broadcast.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 24, 2013, 5:45 pm
  33. Gleb,

    You are just muddying the water. Take for example whether sarin was used in Moadamiya. It does not matter whether all the samples tested positive. It is enough that ONE sample tested positive for sarin or its by products to show that sarin was used there. This is certainly evidence that would have been accepted by any court.

    As for the miosis, again, against what Dan says, you claim it shows that the UN report was not professional because they did not attempt to find an alternative theory. But that was not their mandate at all. So why do you make this demand? The miosis issue is completely irrelevant and in any case Dan has provided quite a few explanations in his report.

    And of course, it is news to all of us that lawyers are so smart that it takes them a few days to learn what experts like Dan had to invest years to learn. Don’t be ridiculous.

    We are still waiting for a credible alternative theory to what happened. None has been forthcoming from you. The evidence against the regime is overwhelming, though it is all circunstantial. Just the fact that only the regime and Israel have access to weapon grade sarin points to the regime. If someone was shot then the only person with a gun is the prime suspect. If you cannot explain how anybody else got weapon grade sarin, that alone means there is overwhelming evidence against the regime.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 5:56 pm
  34. Gelb,

    You write: “I, for my part, am not convinced that the al Assad regime DID NOT do it. But I am not convinced they did it either.”

    What does this mean? How much certainty do you need to be convinced either way? The Assad regime was either responsible or not. Can you answer a simple question: Is it more likely that the Assad regime is responsible than that it is not responsible? If we use the standards of a civil case in the US, would the Assad regime be convicted?

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 6:23 pm
  35. QN,

    You write:”It’s just a matter of who did it. ”

    Good. So what are the options except that the regime did it?
    For each option please explain why it is realistic or probable or even worth considering.

    This discussion is faulty because we have to choose between alternative scenarios and those criticizing the option that the regime did it are not putting forward any credible alternative. If there is no credible alternative, the obvious regime explanation wins by default.

    This is different from the Hariri case because many players have the capability to use a car bomb unlike the case of weapon grade sarin in large quantities and delivered by missiles.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 6:29 pm
  36. Another Israeli Guy answers, then asks, a very key question. To wit:

    “Please do tell us how the rebels obtained weapon grade sarin, something that only Israel has in the region. Where did the Saudis get the sarin from? ”

    Next…..

    To swirl the mud around a bit more, veteran security affairs reporter Ben Caspit reveals another doubter who from his CV, is someone with extensive insider knowledge. He too, is just another Israeli guy:

    “This week I met with an unofficial Israeli source with a background in IDF’s intelligence branch, though that was quite some time ago. The man is not connected to the updated intelligence milieu and does not receive information from official intelligence sources. He is a high-tech person with many achievements and great experience in that field. He developed methods for comparing and cross-checking information, methods that have mainly proven themselves when hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of sources are involved. He wrote a document that rebuts one by one the claims and evidences by which the Assad regime is held responsible for the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in Syria.

    The formative concept is simple: There is evidence that there was a chemical attack on Syrian soldiers in Khan al-Assal in March. A Russian commission of inquiry dealt with this, and there are quite a few experts who think that this actually took place. Who can prove to us that the more recent and severe incident in August did not involve an attack by one of the extremist rebel groups on another rebel group? According to my source, most of the complaints and reports on the ground, from the mouths of the victims or their relatives, describe chemical gas characteristics that do not typify sarin, the gas used by the Syrian army. Sarin does not have the yellow color or odor as described in the complaints; in fact, sarin is odorless and tasteless. By contrast, these characteristics could fit the kind of nerve gas produced in an improvised facility and then used by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda activity in Syria. It is possible.

    My source adds a long list of details, proofs and supporting evidence. He feels that the intelligence description of the measures taken by the Syrian army before the attack (such as donning gas masks), the orders heard on the two-way radio, the region from which the missiles were fired, etc. — all these do not prove anything. Western intelligence organizations collect thousands of new data from Syria every day. In this jumble of information, you can always find whatever you are looking for: this or that directive given, this or that shooting. This kind of evidence is circumstantial.

    Since the Syrian army is also concerned that the rebels may have chemical weapons, it is logical that they would adopt countermeasures in certain situations. According to my source, the initial testimony about the use of gas arrived from the field only an hour and a half after the Syrian army’s shelling of the site. This makes no sense, he says; when such a thing happens, the first Twitter message appears almost immediately, or a quarter-half hour later at the latest. In our instance, it took more than an hour and a half, so that this fact definitely supports the “alternative theory” option.

    I asked him, what is a possible alternative theory? He said, Let’s say that a rebel group like Jabhat al-Nusra (affiliated with al-Qaeda), or the ISIS organization (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also affiliated with Sunni extremists), wanted to hit the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They could have exploited the Syrian army bombardment to launch a gas bomb on the same neighborhood, under cover of Assad’s shelling.
    And by the way, says the source, the neighborhood that was attacked is considered to “belong” to the FSA, the key opposition organization. In such a situation, he explains, the extremist rebels win on all counts: They strike their competitors and also galvanize America into military action against Assad, finally. This is a classic win-win situation, and from the huge amount of evidence that I accumulated, I can’t say that it is totally illogical.

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/obama-syria-strike-israel-smoking-gun.html#ixzz2fqpJAnXa

    Alas. If only that gentleman above could weigh in but being Israeli, he is precluded from publicly offering his educated opinions.

    Gleb Bazov. Very welcome you are and I do hope that you will chime in when the Special Tribunal for Lebanon finally gets underway….

    BTW, as someone who worked in a med school-affiliated hospital’s extensive clinical laboratory, I can see why Dan Kaszeta dismisses the importance of the UN “reporting” on the results of the human specimen sampling. The UN preschool level presentation is insulting to the professionalism of the labs involved in running the tests.

    Posted by lally | September 24, 2013, 6:40 pm
  37. Lally,

    You are quoting an anonymous Israeli source that disputes the use of sarin:
    “According to my source, most of the complaints and reports on the ground, from the mouths of the victims or their relatives, describe chemical gas characteristics that do not typify sarin, the gas used by the Syrian army. Sarin does not have the yellow color or odor as described in the complaints; in fact, sarin is odorless and tasteless. By contrast, these characteristics could fit the kind of nerve gas produced in an improvised facility and then used by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda activity in Syria. It is possible.”

    So he was totally wrong about that and does not claim the rebels have sarin, because he is wrong but not that stupid as to claim that. Plus the article is from September 11, before the UN report came out.

    But keep muddying the water.

    There is no dispute weapon grade sarin was used. Now, give us ONE shred of evidence that Israel was responsible for the sarin.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 6:49 pm
  38. Dear AIG,

    (1) Let us refrain from personal attacks. You asked for my credentials (even if implicitly), and I provided them. No need to demean or make insinuations. Leave your opinions about my personae to yourself, and let us engage each other on substance. And not substance that someone else has presented (particularly when you misinterpret Dan’s words, as I point out infra), but at least the logic of arguments and perhaps some new evidence/data, rather than regurgitating Dan’s report.

    (2) It is not enough that one sample of 13 tests positive. In fact, it is the opposite of sufficient. If it had been one sample out of 2, then it would provide a stronger basis for a conclusion that Sarin was used. But one sample of 13, particularly when it is byproducts that are detected, only raises questions.

    The reason you need multiple samples is not so that you get at least one that tests positive, not at all. On the contrary, multiple samples are taken and tested to ensure reliability of results, to ensure that there is not an error. With multiple samples, certainty rises only if many of them test positive – certainty falls if few of them test positive. Certainty is in question if only one tests positive. The point is verification and repeatability of the result, not the hunt for that one “smoking gun” sample. That’s simple science (and I did study science enough to know that, although it is by no means my vocation).

    If you take only one sample, and it tests positive, you have very unreliable evidence. The positive result could have been an accident, the result of error, faulty equipment, contamination (in situ or at the lab), etc., etc. To make sure your results are reliable, you take many samples, and hope that most of them either point the same way – negative or positive. Again, that’s just the basics of the scientific method, and you know this rule as well as I do. No need to be a scientist to know this. I highly doubt there is something so special about Sarin testing that requires or allows for the basic principles of the scientific method to be ignored.

    Now, if the one positive sample was found to contain Sarin, then we would have a different conversation (still not fully convincing, considering the possibility of intentional contamination) – but that is not the case.

    Note another big problem with the UN Report – there is no mention or indication of the concentration of the Sarin byproducts in any of the testing done, whether for environmental samples or biomedical ones. If we had that data, we would be able to judge better whether the evidence in Moadamiya is strong or weak.

    For instance, if it is found that the 5 disputed samples tested for very low concentrations of Sarin byproducts, then we would know there was a problem, that there could be error – and that would also explain why there is such a material conflict between Lab 1 and Lab 2.

    If, however, the concentration of Sarin byproducts was sufficiently high, then, perhaps, we could ignore the fact that 8 samples are clean and could focus on the 5 disputed samples and the 1 positive sample. In that case, we would be asking serious questions about what happened in Lab 1 – why could it not detect the high concentrations of Sarin byproducts when Lab 2 did find them.

    My strong suspicion, however, is that both Labs had proper procedures in places and did adequate testing. That would imply that Sarin byproduct concentrations were relatively low, allowing for the discrepancy between the two Labs. Extrapolate that to the near-complete agreement between the two labs in the case of Ghouta (Zamalka) – even Sarin was found on the scene! Now compare that to the poor evidence emerging from Moadamiya. Try to follow this logic and tell me whether there is anything wrong with the logic itself.

    In sum, one positive result for Sarin byproducts is, according to basic scientific method, the opposite of strong evidence that Sarin was deployed in Moadamiya. On the contrary, 1 out of 13 is a very poor ratio and suggestive of the possibility that Sarin was not used. Note, I am nowhere suggesting certainty that Sarin was used – only the very troubling question and the logical conclusion that evidence of Sarin use is severely lacking. In my opinion only, Sarin was not present in Moadamiya. But that is just my opinion. Ask Dan directly what he thinks between the two sites.

    (3) As for miosis, you are missing the point entirely and, in fact, misquoting Dan – well, actually, misattributing a conclusion to him that he does not make.

    I am not claiming that UN should have found an alternative theory (although, personally, I think they should have tried to reconcile the miosis issue somehow). The point about an alternative/additional agent comes FROM DAN HIMSELF. Read his report first, then comment. The miosis problem and the concern about reported symptoms are the most significant issues with the UN Report identified in Dan’s commentary. Allow me to quote directly:
    “My initial confusion about the decidedly mixed bag of signs and symptoms continues.
    The signs and symptoms reported are only partially consistent with Sarin exposure.”

    “It should be noted that all of these signs/symptoms are possible in cases of nerve agent exposure. I am very intrigued by the distribution of the symptoms, as this causes much confusion in my mind. Clearly, due to the physical findings, Sarin was employed. But the exact presentation of signs and symptoms seems skewed from our conventional understanding of nerve agent exposure.”

    – Dan is saying here that the distribution of the symptoms is causing “much confusion in [his] mind” and that it is contrary to the conventional understanding of nerve agent effect.

    – He is saying the use of Sarin is clear from the environmental samples (again, no distinction made between Moadamiya and Ghouta, but the discrepancy clearly exists and is material).

    – And then comes the BUT. In scientific terms, in the careful language of expert reports, a “but” is very significant. A “but” means that Dan considers that the distribution of victim symptoms poses an important question and contradicts, even if somewhat, the results of the physical symptoms. Plainly put, the reported victim symptoms paint a different picture than the analysis of the physical samples. That is what this “but” means to me, from the standpoint of my experience with experts reports. Scientific analysis is always very careful and circumspect, and when journalists and advocates scream “IT’S A LIE!”, scientists usually whisper “there appears to be an unexplained inconsistency.” I am not saying Dan is suggesting there is fraud – far from it, he would need to examine and test the samples himself and perform his own interviews. But he is raising and important concern from the standpoint of scientific method. And if Dan meant something else, he did not communicate clearly at all.

    “Needless to say, there are vast differences between the UN data and the Tokyo data. Incidentally, the Tokyo data is reinforced by earlier data from first responders to an earlier Sarin incident in Matsumoto, wherein eye troubles such as miosis were nearly universally encountered by emergency responders to the incident”

    – This is another big concern, as far as I read it. “Vast differences” in symptom distribution between CONFIRMED Sarin incidents in Tokyo and Matsumoto and an ALLEGED (well, you will take offence to this, fine, INVESTIGATED) Sarin incident in Syria is a significant statement to be made in an expert report. Expert reports rarely use such strong words. For Dan to say a “vast difference”, he must be sufficiently concerned about the discrepancy.

    The difference between the pre-Ghouta understanding of Sarin exposure syndrome and
    the UN report is striking. In particular, I would like to highlight a number of paradoxes in
    the UN figures.

    – Same thing – “striking” and “paradoxes” is a very strong word for scientific analysis. It would be absolutely incredible and scientifically very significant if the UN Report actually created a new understanding of Sarin exposure. When Dan talks about the striking difference with pre-Ghouta understanding of Sarin symptoms, he is NOT AT ALL suggesting that the existing understanding is incorrect and should change because of the UN Report. He is pointing out a troubling concern.

    Dan then presents his consideration of these UN paradoxes. I am not going to quote, as I would have to quote entire paragraphs. Suffice it to say, he finds them troubling, in the very least, and has no explanation for the discrepancies. In my opinion, these discrepancies are vital and must be thoroughly addressed and examined. That is where the UN Report fails entirely, in my opinion. In science, you cannot make conclusions and ignore prior experience and analysis – you must at least explain why your results are different from what was expected. No peer review would allow such a paper to stand. It’s just simply not scientific.

    “Is it possible that we are looking at exposure to multiple causes of injury? Were some
    of the examined victims exposed to other things in addition to Sarin? I am not stating
    that Sarin was not used. It clearly was. My point is that it is either not behaving as we
    have understood it in the past or that other factors were at work in addition to Sarin.”

    – Note, Dan feels compelled to say “I am not stating that Sarin was not used.” The only reason he feels compelled to say this is because his prior analysis of symptoms distribution would suggest otherwise – that there is a question as to whether Sarin was used. So, to be careful and circumspect, he addresses that and explains his position. However, he again does not consider the clear discrepancy between Moadamiya and Ghouta – something I wish he did consider.

    – As to his questions – you appear to mistake them for “explanations” for why miosis was not present in more than 14% percent of the surveyed victims.

    Very far from it. Dan would need much more data, access to samples, access to the victims, etc., to start postulating any theories on the issue. His questions are not even hypotheses as science understands them – merely possibilities he raises. But he does feel, obviously, that this discrepancy needs to be explained. UN investigators failed to do so – why, I have no idea.

    And then come the frailties of the UN Reports’ consideration of victim symptoms, which Dan identifies clearly. Neither he, nor I are saying that the UN was not LIMITED in its ability to collect sufficient information. However, I AM saying that the UN needs to do A LOT more work to explain the paradoxes identified by Dan. That is what I would require of my own expert in litigation, for instance.

    “A sample of population 36 survivors interviewed by the inspection team cannot
    conceivably be considered a scientifically or statistically accurate sample of the
    population of affected victims. It would be considered scientifically unsound to
    draw widespread conclusions based simply on this sample.”

    – Consider this, from the UN Report: “Therefore, physicians in the two sites, Moadamiyah and Zamalka, were asked to select 30 and 50 survivors, respectively.”

    And YET, what do we have? We only have 36 surveyed victims. Why is that? Why only 36, when the UN clearly asked for more? Why not 60-100, as the UN requested? Why does the UN Report not explain why only 36 were surveyed?

    To me, this is a key problem too. And, for Dan, he obviously would have preferred many more than 36 survivors.

    “No attempt was made to control for any differential or multiple etiologies. In other
    words, it is possible, indeed likely in a wartime environment, that at least some of
    the 36 people interviewed about their signs and symptoms have been made ill by
    something else or by more than one cause. For example, a combination of
    conventional smoke exposure (common in the urban wartime environment) and
    Sarin exposure.”

    – Here is another criticism of the UN Report – no control for etiologies, i.e. no attempt to perform a true differential diagnosis. For instance, medical professionals always consider multiple potential causes for a condition, starting with the most severe, and, by process of elimination, proceeding to the least severe, until the cause is identified. This is the golden standard, even when dealing with triage medicine.

    In the case of the UN Report, the glaring discrepancy between the existing knowledge about symptom distribution and the clearly different distribution of symptoms present in the surveyed victims should have a been a trigger for further investigation, research and consideration. At the very least, a larger representative sample of individuals should have been tested. What do we get instead? No explanation for the discrepancy and no large testing pool.

    The rest of my analysis on miosis is above. I am not going to repeat it. You have not addressed it in any way whatsoever.

    (4) Lawyers are not smart or stupid – we are simply trained in a particular way so that we can do our job. Also, recall, I have been reading and educating myself for over a month now, and have been reviewing the UN Report for almost a week. As I am not a specialist, I would not dare start the conversation, but I feel that I can certainly contribute to the discussion from the standpoint of my own experience.

    (5) You are waiting for an ALTERNATIVE THEORY. Wait longer – you could be waiting forever, in fact. MY WHOLE POINT is that I am not here to give you an alternative theory – like many, I am simply on a path toward understanding what has happened. My interest in this is peculiar to me – I have an interest in understanding how evidence is presented, used and proven in the international legal context.

    As for the “military-grade sarin”, I have my own views on the subject, but I have talked enough. I’ll give you someone else – Sasa Wawa concludes in his analysis that:

    “So my conclusion at this point is that the sarin used in Zamalka was produced unprofessionally, decreasing the likelihood it was from a military source.”

    Peruse his analysis at http://whoghouta.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/chemical-analysis.html, if you wish. He may be right or he may be wrong. I tend to think he is right.
    In sum, however, AIG, here is where you and I radically differ – you are jumping to conclusions, rushing to reach a certain result, but your evidence is crumbling, and you are panicking, and, as a result, are failing to address any of my substantive points.

    I am, on the other hand, simply trying to understand, and, in doing so, asking important questions about the reliability of the evidence and the narrative that is being presented to and forced upon us.

    I am NOT GOING to give you an “credible alternative theory” – I prefer to be respectful to you and others and to give you an opportunity to make up your own mind, just as I am making up my own mind on the subject. My refusal to give you an alternative theory because I don’t want to jump to conclusions cannot prevent me from expressing my opinion.

    In resume, I have no allegiance in this conflict. I lived in the Middle East for 8 months, dealt with refugees and political activists, lawyers, etc., and there is no love lost between me Bashar al Assad. Both sides of the Syrian civil war are propelled by atrocious monsters – my only concern is how do we stop this war. Bombs will not help. That much is clear. I would have preferred peacekeepers, but no world power is about to do that. Assad will be in power for years to come, most intelligence services agree with that. If we support the opposition (the atrocious, distasteful war criminals that they are – much like Assad), then we are merely evening out the score between the two sides – prolonging the civil war indefinitely and causing much death and horror.

    Here is a crass thought – the only way to stop the killing, in the absence of peacekeeping force – is to allow the stronger side to win and terminate this conflict. The stronger side, at the moment, fortunately or unfortunately, is Bashar al Assad.

    I will conclude at that. Sorry for any typos, etc.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 7:26 pm
  39. AIG, here is where you have no idea or experience – criminal cases are never adjudicated on the basis of the civil standard of proof – i.e. 50/50 – whether in US, Canada or UK, the criminal standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” – in percentage terms equated to at least 80% (possibly more) certainty. Are you beyond a reasonable doubt convinced Bashar al Assad did it? I am not. If you are, good for you, you can sleep soundly tonight.

    As for the burden of proof, before you bring up that point without thinking – the burden of proof is always on the prosecutor. Al Assad does not have to convince you if anything, he is entitled to sit back and enjoy the trial. Those of us, however, that want to find the war criminals responsible for the use of Sarin in Syria, are obligated to make our case. I am not prepared to make my case. Perhaps, eventually, I will be. Are you ready to make your case? You have made no case whatsoever so far.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 7:31 pm
  40. AIG, you say:

    “This discussion is faulty because we have to choose between alternative scenarios and those criticizing the option that the regime did it are not putting forward any credible alternative. If there is no credible alternative, the obvious regime explanation wins by default.”

    – It’s easy for you because you have convinced yourself of the result. It’s very difficult for me, as a lawyer, having been unwillingly forced into the shoes of a judge, to make this decision without painstaking analysis, thinking and research. If you want me to be a lawyer/advocate, fine, I can draft you up a convincing argument in about, say, 5 hours, full with citations, exhibits, and legal precedents. However, we both know that, if I were arguing for rebel responsibility, I would never convince you unless I have sworn affidavits from each and every FSA, Al Nusra, etc. member saying they are pleading guilty. Even then you would doubt my authority under Syrian law to take an oath or affirmation. And, if I were to make an argument for regime culpability, it would simply be a waste of my time and effort – you are already convinced of that position (query, if you were on a jury, would you say you are convinced “beyond a reasonable doubt”?). So, what’s the point?

    – For my part, I am thinking, analyzing, questioning, trying to understand. You are forcing me prematurely to come up with conclusions – I REFUSE TO DO SO – primarily out of respect, strangely enough, for you. And, of course, for others who may be reading this. I would not force you to endure legal semantics until I am certain I can make my case – to do otherwise would be fraudulent and disrespectful. If you don’t want to come on this road to understanding with me, then let me be, stupid and deluded that I am, ignore me. Why do you feel the need to wrestle in this verbal Olympics with me when it is so clear to you that my argument are baseless?

    You further say:

    “This is different from the Hariri case because many players have the capability to use a car bomb unlike the case of weapon grade sarin in large quantities and delivered by missiles.”

    – Please provide, for my consideration, any scientific, considered source that confirms that the sarin used in Ghouta was “weapons-grade”. In fact, Kaszeta, who we have cited today probably to the point that his ears are falling off like charred coals, says:

    “The presence of DIMP is interesting, as it is a by-product of Sarin manufacture and also a decomposition product. At this stage, I must do more research into the implications of the presence of DIMP. It could be an impurity in the Sarin, an indicator of Sarin having decomposed by exposure to heat, or both.”

    What that suggests to me is that there is an indication that Sarin was not pure, may have been decomposing as a result of heat, or both.

    – Sasa Wawa makes the following point, in reliance on the UN Report:

    “Therefore, lack of stabilizers should indicate the sarin did not come from military storage and was prepared shortly before the attack. There seem to be three types of sarin stabilizers: dibutylchloramine, tributylamine and diisopropylcarbodiimide. None of them appear in the UN Report (Appendix 7). Furthermore, all chemicals listed seem to be easily linkable to sarin by-products, sarin degradation products or traces of explosives (see more below).”

    http://whoghouta.blogspot.co.il/2013/09/chemical-analysis.html

    So, here we have a lack of stabilizers as well. Presumably, military-grade Sarin would have stabilizers present to ensure longevity. Otherwise, keeping a pre-mixed supply of Sarin would be impossible – and if Syria did not use stabilizers, they would not have a CW arsenal at all.

    – There are also multiple reports of smell (suphur or burning), sometimes strong and colour by the victims of the August 21, 2013 attack. See, for instance http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/reports/chemicaldamascussuburbs

    While to me, the fact of smell or colour being attributed to a colourless and odourless nerve gas like Sarin is highly problematic, in itself, it may be an indication that Sarin was quite impure. Once again, not “military grade Sarin” at all.

    So, what sources do you have that suggest that it was military-grade Sarin?

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 7:53 pm
  41. I nominate Gleb to be Assad’s family lawyer. Gleb, Assad has unlimited resources. This could be a great opportunity.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 24, 2013, 7:59 pm
  42. Lally, a very interesting hypothesis. Moreover, it is in accord with the following information currently being tweeted about:

    via @Charles_Lister

    The entire nature of the #Syria opposition may well have undergone a massive shift tonight, with very significant implications for SNC/SMC.

    13 Islamist groups, including most core SNC/SMC units, have condemned the SNC altogether & called for Islamic unity under Sharia.

    Signatories are: Jabhat al-Nusra, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiya, Liwa al-Tawhid, Suqor al-Sham, Liwa al-Islam, Liwa al-Haq (SIF; Homs)..

    Harakat Fajr al-Sham al-Islamiya, Harakat al-Noor al-Islamiya, Kataib Nour al-Din al-Zinki, Liwa al-Forqaan (Al-Quneitra), Liwa al-Ansar..

    The joint statement issued via Liwa al-Tawhid, condemned the SNC for not being representative of the opposition = it is no longer recognised

    via @MaryFitzger

    Pivotal development in #Syria tonight: almost all major armed groups say they are denying legitimacy to Western-backed SNC & seeking sharia

    etc.

    Thank you for the welcome – Special Tribunal for Lebanon would be a fascinating adventure.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 8:07 pm
  43. Akbar Palace,

    Have you been reading/listening/whatever to anything I have been writing? I doubt al Assad would let me into the country after I called him a murderous monster, but, you may think differently.

    Certainly, if a retainer was offered, I would defend him at the International Criminal Court. Everyone deserves a lawyer, though al Assad may well want and deserve one more experienced at criminal law than I am.

    Enough with the ad hominem attacks, eh? This is just childish. And if you can’t contain yourself, there are pills for that. All the best.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 8:10 pm
  44. Gelb Bazov,

    I am not interested in going through, detail by detail, the available evidence. I do not have the time. What I do want to do is contribute a few more basic comments on your analysis above and your argument as from my reading, there are defects in your analysis that do not proceed from your logic, but from the assumptions and premise on which you proceed.

    1. To begin with, a few notes about the interesting rhetoric you use. You are keen to qualify that you are a lawyer and not a scientist, and yet are quite happy to make scientific claims and pronouncements on the work of scientists with years of experience, on the basis of your eight years of experience as a litigator. I’ll deal with this more in the next point. You are also quick to point out that you shouldn’t take the word of other people, when the tone and level of aggression in your responses show that you expect everyone else to take you seriously because you are a lawyer. That is a double standard. You’re also extremely proud of your logic and use that to protect yourself.

    2. You call into question Eliot Higgins saying, “Higgins’ analysis and evidence is based on review of videos and subsequent extrapolation, anaysis[sic], speculation, and conjecture.” Isn’t all expert evidence formed of this things? The fact that someone is an expect allows them to give statements beyond the mere statements of facts that they have ascertained with their immediate senses. And before you attempt to attack Higgins’ credentials, let me say that while, yes, normally a self-educated ballistics researcher would not be considered reliable, Higgins’ work has been recognised widely, from CW Experts whom he has worked with to those in the media. Your experience with a certain rule of evidence notwithstanding, applying the same standard to your limited contributions suggests a little over-reached on your part and some pretty big statements based on limited information. Your analysis is primarily based off the UN Report and an application of Kaszeta’s commentary and a limited amount of personal research to the document from which you draw assumptions, make assertions and speculate.

    2. You’re a lawyer, with eight years of experience. Eight years is plenty of time to pick up nasty habits about practice and does not, by itself, elicit trust in your word. The others in this conversation are your partners, not witnesses to be cross-examined and they will not, and cannot, respond to your statements with the same level of technical ability you can, as a trained, registered and practicing lawyer. You would be well to remember that. Also, your eight years of experience as a litigator should also make you aware that courts show leniency to self-represented clients for this very reason.

    2. We cannot rely on your judgment. Your skill is in the general operation of the rules of evidence (depending on the country in which you live and the jurisdiction) and not ballistics, CW analysis and the field of chemistry. Even taking into account your experience in learning quickly and working with documents of this nature, your declaration about the quality of the UN Report is your opinion. This is not a cross examination, nor are you presenting a case and so your opinion counts for little. The skill you bring to the table in this conversation is a refined knowledge of the rules of evidence. Which is valuable. But that’s where it ends.

    3. Your whole analysis proceeds from the basis the UN CW Report is intended as a complete statement of all the known facts. It takes no account of the context of the report, which was completed in circumstances much less than ideal, due to there being an active war zone, opposition escorts, repeated regime shelling of the target areas in order to erase evidence, delay-tactics by the regime and issues with getting access to the area from the regime who were reluctant to let inspectors in without Russian diplomatic pressure. These limitations mean the report is going to be incomplete. As Kaszeta points out in his analysis of the UN CW Report, the number of victims tested is too low to make a scientific determination with accuracy, with many of the victims already dead, either through the initial CW strike or through the subsequent attacks on the area. The UN team was lead by a very well respected CW Expert and Chemist (See, http://atfp.co/1cbpyPN) in very trying circumstances. They also had a narrow mandate and a narrow time frame. With this in mind, your attempt to characterise the report as “shoddy” is a misrepresentation, as the report was never going to be complete or as thorough as possible based on the circumstances in which it was produced.

    4) Your critical of Kaszeta’s commentary is interesting but it also serves to demonstrate something other than your argument; mainly that his use of language is not precise. Which makes sense given that the report itself is made more as general commentary on the UN report and was not worded with idea in mind that it may be submitted to a court for evidence. It is also clear that any question about the merits raised by Kaszeta go more to the circumstances in which it was produced rather than some substantial defect or failing in the report itself or its authors. To make any such claim is well outside your area of expertise and is meaningless.

    The conclusion to be drawn from this is that your overall analysis does not so much as prove a substantial defect in the available evidence. What is shows is first, that more information is needed, and second, that there are always major issues with trying to establish make out a case from an operating war zone, especially if you are trying to move beyond reasonable doubt using open source information. The evidence available so far is circumstantial, but as a lawyer you should know that does not make it less, or immaterial, or weak. Each piece of evidence is strand in a rope. Remove one, you do not break the rope. And so, taking all the open source information at its highest, it still seems to suggest that the regime was responsible.

    Posted by Royce | September 24, 2013, 9:38 pm
  45. Apologies for the obvious errors. Posted before I was ready and I don’t have access to an edit function until the comment is moderated.

    Posted by Royce | September 24, 2013, 9:40 pm
  46. Enough with the ad hominem attacks, eh?

    Gelb,

    What ad hominem “attack”?

    QN,

    We may have to request larger disk space from the internet provider. Next we’ll be up to our ears in footnotes and references.

    Where the F is George W. Bush when you need him? He wouldn’t stand for this BS.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 24, 2013, 10:36 pm
  47. Gleb,
    My impression is that you are disingenuous and all you want is just to muddy the waters and cast doubt. The moment you started quoting a blog by someone named Sasa Wawa who tells nothing about himself and has no credentials, this became even more obvious. You demand the highest standard from a report but take what is written by an anonymous poster as evidence of any kind? You are showing your true colors. If you take such sources seriously, you are not seeking the truth, you are just peddling propaganda.

    Of course, you are not willing to provide an alternative theory because you have zero evidence for an alternative theory. Here is some simple logic for you. There are two options, either the regime did it or they did not. There is overwhelming evidence they did. There is zero evidence they didn’t. In fact, you have not put forward ONE shred of evidence that implicates anybody else. Not ONE shred of evidence. You of course know this and you know that the fact that sarin was used and that it was dispensed by missiles is a smoking gun since there is zero evidence that anybody else in that specific area had sarin.

    You also claim to understand Dan better than he understands himself. He has clearly stated that sarin was used and that the methodology of the report is fine. He has repeated these views in his tweets. In fact he writes in a tweet: “However, article doesn’t point out my observation that the environmental samples are clear and damning”
    Let’s try that again. Dan clearly says that the environmental samples are clear and damning. Do you still claim to analyze what Dan wrote better than him? That also means Moadamiya where one of the labs tested 6 of the 13 samples to have by products of sarin. Again, clear and damning evidence. And don’t try claiming that you as an “informed lawyer that learns quickly” know how to analyze the results better than Dan. It is enough that you claim to know better than him what he meant.

    The sarin was weapon grade because so little evidence for imperfections were found, perhaps just one case if at all. If the sarin was impure, there would be many more cases.
    You write: “However, we both know that, if I were arguing for rebel responsibility, I would never convince you unless I have sworn affidavits from each and every FSA, Al Nusra, etc. member saying they are pleading guilty.”

    Not at all. I just want you to provide some evidence. Just provide some credible evidence. Why is that so difficult to do instead of inventing a straw man? Instead of telling us how you could write a case, just outline the evidence you have that the rebels or the Saudis or the Martians did it. The fact is you can’t because you have ZERO evidence (except of course from anonymous internet sources that you think are evidence).

    Yes, your ideas are baseless. But that is exactly the reason I am going to keep exposing them for what they are. You are not arguing in good faith based on evidence. You are distorting what Dan said and using anonymous internet sources.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 10:39 pm
  48. Oh boy, Royce, I will respond, in full, but allow me to catch a breath first. If anyone is being cross-examined here (and not substantively, but on issues of credibility and credentials, it seems), it is me and not the absent authors of the UN Report. Allow to give you my initial impressions – like several before you, you have, unfortunately, chosen to focus on my credentials, and not on the logic of my argument or the substantive points I have introduced to the discussion.

    For my part, I have clearly stated, where appropriate, and in reference to specific issues, whether these issues are amenable to analysis from the standpoint of my experience, whether my experience is at all relevant, or whether any specialized experience is necessary for the required analysis. I have indicated my experience fairly and honestly, and I would doubt you could discern a claim in my notes that 8 years of legal experience provides me with any form of dominant authority on the present subject – not at all. I could have added my work with Iraqi refugees, UNHCR, ICC, various NGOs in Egypt for 8 months in 2007-2008 and since. But none of that matters.

    My tools are primarily logic, research and the ability to grasp concepts. I raise questions and seek answers, not proclaim certainty, personal relationship with truth, or prophetic insight. On the contrary, I sought exhaustively to explain to AIG that I had no theories or postulates, but was merely critiquing what I saw were flaws, faults and severe shortcomings. And if your point is to say that I am not being grateful for the self-sacrifice of the UN investigators in putting themselves in harms way in performing their vital mission – you are mistaken. Far from it, they should be commended. However, criticising their performance, when lives of many Syrians may well depend on the use made of their report, is not beyond the pale of fair discourse, nor is it taboo in polite society. Question we must, and science is only made better through criticism and questioning.

    I can see my own error, however, fairly clearly by now. The error was in addressing the subject of my own expertise/experience at all. I should have ignored AIG’s goading me into that position, but I could not refuse. The topic of present discussion is not my humble personae, I am irrelevant, but whether or not the logic of my criticism works. Like others before you, you fail to address this latter issue. I am gratified, however, that we have moved beyond AIG’s claim to overwhelming, indusputable evidence of the regime’s culpability to “taking all the open source information at its highest, it still seems to suggest that the regime was responsible.” Even without you addressing any of my points (starting, for instance with the issue of the 140mm shell).

    Oh, and I don’t care about Mr. Higgins’ credentials – he does what he does, he does it relatively well, in a logical and fairly consistent manner, though we may disagree sometime, but I respect him nonetheless. As I respect you, despite this unfortunate ad hominem insinuation “Eight years is plenty of time to pick up nasty habits about practice and does not, by itself, elicit trust in your word.”

    And so, I implore again, may we please leave ME out of this, and, if you want to debate, then debate the substance of my logice/information, which you have barely touched upon.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 10:50 pm
  49. What nonsense dear lawyer. When you have someone on the stand arguing about scientific issues, do you or do you want ask him about his scientific credentials? If a “science expert” claimed he is not using his scientific knowledge to analyze a scientific report but his “logic”, would anyone accept his “logic”? But wait, you are doing worse. You are not only using “logic” you are putting words in the real experts mouth and telling us what he “really” meant. Of course you credentials are relevant because you are disputing the SCIENTIFIC interpretation as put forward by Dan and you are disputing the SCIENCE side of the UN report.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 10:58 pm
  50. AIG, my friend (or internet acquaintance, should you take the moniquer “friend” to be offensive) your failure to engage with any of my logic/substance and YES, EVIDENCE (what about that 140mm missile, anything at all?) that I have discussed is becoming increasingly more and more laughable. What am I to do with you? Alright, I will respond once again to sophistry – just give me a some time to compose myself and wipe my shit-eating grin of my face.

    Yours truly, Your Cat Who Ate the Canary While Pursuing a Secret Agenda Without Having a Secret Agenda

    P.S. The point is – I like asking questions and testing evidence and conclusions – you seem to have no answers to my questions and like to be given conclusions which you in turn brandish as a flag of victory above your imaginary Bastille (or Reichstag, whatever your prefer to capture). I don’t have a flag and I don’t have a victory goal in mind. That’s the key difference you don’t seem to grasp. In your mind, world is divided into radical partisans of divergent ideologies – in my mind, I just want to understand, and I understand by asking questions.

    Full response forthcoming.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 10:59 pm
  51. AIG, will or will you not respond t any of my substantive points and logic? Or is this argument purely ad hominem and do you intend to focus on my credentials and credibility to the exclusion of a substantive debate? If you intend to continue a cross-examination of me as some form of expert, then it’s a waste of my time. If you actually bother to engage substantively, for a second, instead of screaming like a little child at the playground “I AM RIGHT A THOUSAND TIMES! BECAUSE I AM RIGHT, AND YOU ARE WRONG!”, while he bashes his playmate’s head into concrete, then we can continue the discussion. If not, all right, as you wish, let us deteriorate into the imbecility you propose in stead of a respectful debate.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 24, 2013, 11:02 pm
  52. AIG,
    All I can say is that you are brilliant. I’ve never seen someone argue a lawyer and the lawyer comes out looking like a 5 year old telling a fib.

    Posted by Ali | September 24, 2013, 11:11 pm
  53. Again, nonsense my dear lawyer. I have responded to your points one by one. The missile issues was handled deftly by Brown Moses and you have ignored his substantial expose. You have ignored the fact that you were caught peddling an anonymous internet source as evidence. You ignore that Dan explicitly said that the environmental data is clear and damning evidence. Tell us please, who is Sasa Wawa and why do you bring his site as evidence? If you are trying to “understand” as you claim, why did you bring him as a source, care to explain? And then when you have nothing to say, you try the oldest trick in the book, trying to blame me for your faults. Nice try but no cigar. You have made not substantive claims. Your claims are based on “scientific logic” and are in fact contrary to the explicit claims made by the expert writer of the report you cite and you also make claims based on an anonymous site.

    Posted by AIG | September 24, 2013, 11:28 pm
  54. Even more evidence from Brown Moses linking the Syrian regime to the missiles:
    http://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2013/09/launchers-for-munitions-linked-to.html

    Still waiting for even one piece of remotely relevant and credible evidence to support the theory that anybody else but the regime is responsible.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:01 am
  55. Dear Royce, here goes nothing:
    “there are defects in your analysis that do not proceed from your logic, but from the assumptions and premise on which you proceed.”

    – So, your point is my logic is sound, but my assumptions and premises are flawed/unfounded? I will take what you say at face value. Ok, let’s hope you actually address premises and assumptions in your analysis below.

    “You are keen to qualify that you are a lawyer and not a scientist, and yet are quite happy to make scientific claims and pronouncements on the work of scientists with years of experience, on the basis of your eight years of experience as a litigator.”

    – Oh, brother. How is that a premise or an assumption? First, please indicate one scientific claim I make that is referenced to my experience as a litigator, rather than

    “the tone and level of aggression in your responses show that you expect everyone else to take you seriously because you are a lawyer.”

    – Aggression breeds aggression, unfortunately. Having been met with vitriol from AIG and BURGER, I made the error of slipping into aggression.

    – Aggression in my responses is not in any way predicated on an alleged expectation on my part that others take me seriously because I am a lawyer. Not at all. If I am outwardly aggressive it is because I am annoyed by the personal attacks against me made by others. I should have restrained myself, but I failed to do so. That is my clear error. However, I don’t care whether or not you or anyone else takes me seriously as a lawyer or takes my arguments seriously because I am a lawyer. Just judge my arguments on their merits, without regard to my resume.

    – I was goaded into addressing my credentials by AIG, and he now does say that this was essential, but I should have thought better about it. I certainly regret it now, because the issues has shifted to who I am, away from the issues we should be discussing.

    That is a double standard. You’re also extremely proud of your logic and use that to protect yourself.
    – This I don’t get at all. Of course I would use logic – how else do you expect me to debate? But as for protecting myself – how so? I am confused.

    Paragraph 2
    – The fact that you have not seen my analysis on various Syrian issues to date (which is not insubstantial) is a product of two factors:
    (a) I have not made it available to you or to your internet community/circles (published through my facebook account, mostly); and,
    (b) you have not looked or found it (and I am by no means suggesting that you should be looking – there is no reason you should or would be looking for my writings on the subject, I am no Eliot Higgins and not very worthy of such fandom or pursuit)
    – Thank you for indicating my spelling error in the quotation you excerpted. I appreciate it.
    – You have very little idea as to the extent of my knowledge or experience, so let’s keep speculations at bay. If there is anything substantively wrong with my analysis, please address that, and we will, in turn see, whether the ambit of my knowledge is as limited as you suggest or not. It certainly spans beyond what you sarcastically put as “experience with a certain rule of evidence.”
    – I am not asking that you take my arguments at face value and believe them, as you would believe Mr. Higgins – it’s your choice to believe him or not, but I specifically ask you not to believe me, but rather fairly consider what I am saying.
    – Consider the logic and the evidence and then go forth and verify any evidence you do not consider to be accurate. And if you don’t care to engage substantively, why engage at all? Are you trying to protect the poor innocent gullible souls who will believe me because I am lawyer with 8 years of experience? Give me a break.
    – Anything I missed? (see my comment on Eliot Higgins in my previous note addressed to you).

    Paragraph 3

    – Royce, how would you behave when faced with aggression, outright sophistry and claims that I have no idea what I am talking about without ever responding to anything substantive I put forward? And here I am referring specifically to AIG.
    – Enough with personal attacks and insinuations, please. I end up slipping as a result and being sarcastic in return – and I do not like it. What gives you the entitlement to insinuate that I have picked up bad habits in my experience?
    – By lenience, do you mean I should pat AIG on the head and say, “there, there, that’s a good boy, you are right, I am wrong, don’t worry about it”? He lashes out, I ask him reasonable questions, he has no response and lashes out again. What gives?

    Paragraph 4.

    – Don’t rely on my judgment. All my information is open-sourced – go check for yourself.
    – Do consider the logic of my argument and see if it makes sense. If it makes sense, why not admit the possibility that my logic may be of some value to this discourse? Why keep avoiding substantive engagement?
    – My skills include far more than a refined knowledge of the rules of evidence. But how does that matter? You can read the same literature and information I read – I have given you a couple of links above. I don’t expect you to take my word at face value – go check for yourself. I am merely proposing a chain of logical conclusions – and that is the only thing I want you to consider. And if it prompts you to go and research for yourself, instead of relying on others to do your homework for you – all the better.

    Paragraph 5

    – You are mistaken, I never suggested that the UN Report was intended as a complete statement of all the known facts. I have merely indicated, from the standpoint of my logic and my experience with expert reports, and from the standpoint of frailties identified in Dan’s paper, the flaws in the UN Report that are obvious to me. They are not obvious to you? Fine, address my arguments head on or ignore them. But DON’T ascribe to me something I never claimed.
    – In fact, I have addressed the known issues with the conditions in which the UN Report was created (and if I had not completely outlined them, do forgive me – I would expect these conditions and difficulties are well known on this forum).
    – What delay tactics? Request made on Aug 24 and access granted on Aug 25? As confirmed by UNSG spokesperson? What Russian pressure? Access requested and granted – all within 24-48 hours – how is that a delay tactic?
    – Deliberate shelling? Are you so sure? I am not – that’s just one point of view. There is no suggestion in the UN Report that the shelling was deliberate (as far as I recall) or that it contaminated the test sites.
    – Royce, there are obvious issues, contradictions and discrepancies on the face of the report itself – and yet the UN fails to even discuss them, let alone consider and analyze them. That, to me, is shoddy and unprofessional. There is no explanation why they could not do it. The symptoms discrepancy (i.e. miosis) was obvious even before samples were Lab-analyzed, why not sit down and think why there is a discrepancy with symptoms? Was immediately obvious to Dan, for instance.
    – Many more responses, but I am getting tired, none of you are reading what I am writing, and I have to keep fighting through a morass of assumption about what I am assuming. Oh boy.

    Paragraph 6

    – Did you ask Kaszeta whether his use of language is imprecise? Why are you so sure? Does Kaszeta know you think so? Do you believe he thinks he was being imprecise? Or are you just assuming that he was not being precise in his use of language?
    – What if Kaszeta was precise and was doing what a good expert always does, particularly when making rather sensational statements – being circumspect, tempered and careful? I tend to think this is the case. His report is not very long, and he had almost a week to prepare it. He was being reasonably thorough and not journalistic in his approach.
    – I am pretty certain Kaszeta knew his report would be scrutinized very very carefully and was accordingly careful in his use of language. Maybe you should ask him if he was just being loose and flippant?
    – What is clear to you is not very clear to me. Can you please provide some reasoning for you statements?
    – Finally, as discussed, I have sufficient experience in dealing with expert reports to at least make claims with respect to their language, form, methodology, approach, etc.

    Last Paragraph

    – Dear Royce, you can draw whatever conclusion you wish about my overall analysis, but there is little conclusion to be drawn from the rather obtuse and rambling discussion of my personae, my credentials and your assumptions about my assumptions.
    – Perhaps you should first actually address my logic and evidence (start with the 140mm missile discussion for starters), rather than my premises, and then we can talk about whether my analysis indicate defects in UN evidence or not.
    – Yes, more information is needed.
    – Yes, it is difficult to operate from a war zone.
    – Yes, evidence is circumstantial, and is not, through that alone, weak (funny, I actually made this exact same point on another forum today ).
    – However, circumstantial evidence only counts as proof in a court of law if it is corroborated by other evidence – direct evidence on the subject. It must also be consonant with other circumstantial and direct evidence on the subject – if pieces of the puzzle start falling out of the puzzle, circumstantial evidence starts failing.
    – No, in the case of circumstantial evidence, specific rules are followed. Corroborative direct evidence is necessary. No conviction can result on circumstantial evidence alone. There must be something weightier to support the allegations. Once the picture starts falling apart, circumstantial evidence quickly follows suit as well.

    I am tired of this. This all is also very silly. Royce, thank you for the discussion. AIG, I will get to you when I get to you, if I get to you.
    Good luck, all.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:01 am
  56. HUH???? AIG PLEASE EXPLAIN YOURSELF AND RIGHT NOW:

    “The missile issues was handled deftly by Brown Moses and you have ignored his substantial expose.”

    LINK PLEASE?

    “You have ignored the fact that you were caught peddling an anonymous internet source as evidence.”

    LINK PLEASE? IF NO LINK YOU = LIAR AND ENGAGING IN DEFAMATION.

    You ignore that Dan explicitly said that the environmental data is clear and damning evidence.

    HE DID NOT DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN MOADAMIYA AND ZAMALKA – ASK HIM THAT POINT DIRECTLY AND WE WILL AT LEAST HAVE HIS RESPONSE INSTEAD OF YOUR MIND-NUMBING REPETITVE SPECULATION.

    Tell us please, who is Sasa Wawa and why do you bring his site as evidence?

    SASA_WAWA – see previously cited links – LIKE HIGGINS IS TRYING HIS BEST TO UNDERSTAND AND ANALYZE AND IS GETTING PRETTY GOOD AT IT. NOT AN AUTHORITY, BUT NEITHER WAS HIGGINS WHEN HE STARTED OUT. I NEVER CLAIMED HE WAS AN EXPERT – go to the link and make your own conclusions. He performed a ballistic analysis with open-source software on trying to determine how far UMLACAs can fly – link above.

    Do you read anything I write? At all? Serious question.

    If you are trying to “understand” as you claim, why did you bring him as a source, care to explain?

    JUST EXPLAINED – A new fresh voice, that is even-keeled and balanced. He does not claim to know, and is just starting out, but so did Eliot Higgins once.

    And then when you have nothing to say, you try the oldest trick in the book, trying to blame me for your faults. Nice try but no cigar.

    WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

    Enough, this imbecilic discourse is beneath me. Let others judge what has transpired here today.

    BUT I EXPECT AN ANSWER FROM YOU TO THE ABOVE. RIGHT NOW.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:12 am
  57. Akbar Palace,

    “ad hominem” = is an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument. Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as an informal fallacy, more precisely an irrelevance. Just citing Wiki.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:17 am
  58. Now I even doubt Gleb is a lawyer. This is plainly false: “No conviction can result on circumstantial evidence alone.”

    “The notion that one cannot be convicted on circumstantial evidence is, of course, false. Most criminal convictions are based on circumstantial evidence, although it must be adequate to meet established standards of proof. ”

    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/118468/circumstantial-evidence

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:23 am
  59. OH, AIG – you mean this!

    “Gleb,
    My impression is that you are disingenuous and all you want is just to muddy the waters and cast doubt. The moment you started quoting a blog by someone named Sasa Wawa who tells nothing about himself and has no credentials, this became even more obvious. You demand the highest standard from a report but take what is written by an anonymous poster as evidence of any kind? You are showing your true colors. If you take such sources seriously, you are not seeking the truth, you are just peddling propaganda.”

    You mean YOU think YOU called me out on using an anonymous internet source and are now PROUD of it? You can only be pitied. I thought someone sensible actually called me out on something, but it was you, the genious double-agent, exposing spies far and wide! Whatever.

    Not everyone who makes sense has to be an “expert”. As Royce correctly pointed out Higgins was nto always an expert – he was once a financial professional of one kind or another. I think Sasa Wawa makes sense and his analysis is sound – but that is why we have links, so you can make up your own mind. I said as much the first time I cited his site. Anyways, little can be explained to someone like you. Keep grasping at straws, my poor fellow.

    And, YOU LIED when you said Eliot Higgins responded to any of my arguments. He has not. If you have a link, please prove me wrong.

    Best of luck. With regret, I must say that I see no further value in communicating with you. Feel free to rant or to ignore me – I do not care. I have made my points and I bid adieu.

    ———————————-

    Elias Muhanna (Qifa) – I know something like this was inevitable, but I have no further desire to expose myself to AIG’s treatment, and so I must bid adieu. Good luck to you.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:27 am
  60. Gelb the non-lawyer, how many links to Brown Moses do you need? Just read what he writes about the missiles.

    Who is Sasa Wawa? It is not even his real name. You write: ” LIKE HIGGINS IS TRYING HIS BEST TO UNDERSTAND AND ANALYZE AND IS GETTING PRETTY GOOD AT IT. ” Getting pretty good? Do you not even see you are making circular arguments? He is an anonymous source making claims based on nothing and you who have no scientific knowledge, so how can you even claim he is getting “pretty good”? And how do you know that this anonymous person is a “fresh voice”? Again you are employing circular logic.

    Dan did not differentiate between the two locations because he did not need to. He said that the environmental evidence is clear and damning and he meant BOTH locations because if one location was iffy, he wouldn’t have said that, would he?

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:31 am
  61. AIG, shut up when those who know talk:

    I said “No conviction can result on circumstantial evidence ALONE”

    You quoted: ““The notion that one cannot be convicted on circumstantial evidence is, of course, false. Most criminal convictions are based on circumstantial evidence, although it must be adequate to meet established standards of proof. ”

    KEY DIFFERENCE: “CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE ALONE”

    What you don’t know and fail to comprehend is the concept of circumstantial evidence beind used without any corroborative direct evidence.

    YES, ALL CONVICTIONS will rely, to some extent, on circumstantial evidence – but not ALONE. Circumstantial evidence CAN BE USED, no doubt, but not in isolation, without supporting direct evidence. There is NO CONTRADICTION between what I said and what you quoted.

    You are only showing yourself to be a fool. Good luck with that, you do it very well.

    You are starting to slide into defamation. I am easy to find on the Internet – look me up and then decide whether I am a lawyer or not.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:33 am
  62. Gelb,

    “Not everyone who makes sense has to be an “expert”.”

    Anyone who is trying to be smarter than or second guess a team of UN experts better be an expert himself. Dan clearly said in the report you site that their methodology was fine. But no, an anonymous “fresh voice” from the internet is “making sense” that the report is flawed. In fact a non-scientist like you has determined this and ordained Wawa so what he says must be given credibility. Circular logic at its best.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:38 am
  63. AIG, he writes nothing that addresses my information onn M-14 missiles. Why are you lying? Why don’t you give me a link? Why do you keep engaging in defamation? Should I teach you a legal lesson?

    Is Brown Moses the real name of Eliot Higgins?

    Here is how I first introduced Sasa Wawa:

    You should consider the findings presented here: http://www.whoghouta.blogspot.ca, and, in particular, the http://www.whoghouta.blogspot.ca/2013/09/umlaca-simulation.html, which is an open-software simulation of the UMLACA (unidentified shell in Zamalka). Sasa’s conclusions are that:

    (1) the found UMLACA had a range of 2.4 – 3.5 km at most, and that is being somewhat charitable;
    (2) elsewhere, Sasa’s conclusion, based on the photographs and videos, is that UN’s azimuth is wrong – the Zamalka missiles likely came from the north, not north-west. But, see for yourself.

    How we even begin to determine azimuths and such is a puzzle for me – when UN states, unequivocally, that ALL sites had been handled/manipulated and were contaminated for the purposes of evidence-gathering.

    I did not claim he was an expert, nor did I need to. I invited anyone who wants to to consider Sasa’s arguments themselves by following the link. It’s up to you to make up your own conclusions. But Sasa is only as “anonymous” as Brown Moses is. In any event, this is very tiresome, if I am dishonest in any way, others will make up their own minds. Your opinion does not matter in the least.

    IF YOU DEFAME ME, I will pursue you. Consider that your Libel and Slander Act Notice, although a formal one will be issued if required. Good luck.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:39 am
  64. Gelb,

    If you are a lawyer you are a very bad one. Circumstantial evidence alone is enough to convict. Phil Spector for example was convicted just based on circumstantial evidence. DNA evidence is circumstantial evidence and is enough to convict without ANY additional evidence. You don’t know what you are talking about.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:44 am
  65. AIG, are you an idiot? What are you talking about? Where did I link Sasa Wawa and flaws in UN Report? At least give me a quote or something. Do you like making things up and engaging in this mockery of a fair debate online?

    I indicated Sasa Wawa as a source of potentially relevant information, specifically with respect to the UMLACA simulation. I also indicated he disagreed on the azimuth estimations, but all that information is right there for you to judge. I neither claimed he was an expert, nor concealed where his information resided.

    This was such a minor point of my analysis that I am surprised you even picked up on it.

    OH, RIGHT! You have nothing else to say, so you are hunting desperately for something to latch on to in the hopes of discrediting me.

    GOOD LUCK. Please continue remaining a mockery of a human being. Whatever camp you belong to on the political spectrum, I pity that they are forced to endure a representative such as yourself.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:45 am
  66. Gelb,

    So you do not know who Wawa really is, and yet you are still doubling down and using him as evidence? And how does that help you anyway, even he admits that these are missiles that are used by the regime!!!

    He writes in the post you linked regarding a video of such rocket that Brown Moses analyzed: “Update to Update 3: Brown Moses managed to prove the source is Mazzeh airport.”

    You did not claim he was an expert but you did claim what he does should be given weight relative to a team of UN experts. Almost the same thing.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:53 am
  67. Gelb,

    At this point are you even aware of what you are writing?
    You write:
    “Where did I link Sasa Wawa and flaws in UN Report?”

    But just a post or two above that you write:
    “(2) elsewhere, Sasa’s conclusion, based on the photographs and videos, is that UN’s azimuth is wrong – the Zamalka missiles likely came from the north, not north-west. But, see for yourself.”

    You are clearly saying that Wawa has found a flaw in the UN report. It is difficult to keep track of one’s lies, isn’t it?

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:57 am
  68. Here’s the deal, Royce. The critique of the UN inspector team is all yours and yours alone. Sorry, were you building up your straw army mens?

    Do you understand the difference from those tasked with designing and conducting the inspections and those responsible for the interpretive product presented as the UN report? As it stands, it’s just not up to snuff as the casus belli it’s being promoted to be.

    The fact is that we are not privy to the data supporting the conclusions drawn. We are simply to trust someone’s fuzzy numberless “results” as if we are discussing pregnancy tests. In the world of those carrying out highly complex tests and reporting subsequent results, it’s all about the numbers. For whatever reason, the report’s composers chose to edit them out. Quantities do matter.

    In fact, echoing Gleb’s speculation about the same samples showing contradictory results, there are different ways of reporting inconclusive results that fall beneath the threshold established to determine a definitive “positive”. One lab could conceivably report a “trace” while another may ignore a clinically insignificant amount. But a”trace” is a problematic amount on which to build a case; better not to mention it at all.

    Perhaps it was determined that keeping the hard numbers sequestered from the public, curious journos and scientific colleagues would save lots of troubling questions.

    Appendix 4, pgs 16 & 17 has some puzzling non-answers to questions posed to attending physicians about the dosages of antidotes administered to victims. The clinicians knew they gave atropine injections, hydrocortisone injections and proscribed oxygen therapy but were not able to describe the dosages administered to their patients? Usually calculations of that nature are considered to be of critical importance as to their efficacy and/or risk.

    Just another little curiosity in this UN Funhouse of horrors.

    AIG. You are the one who mentioned Israeli Sarin. I’m just playing you but now that you mention it, I can at least provide a plausible path for delivery of the goods.

    Say that it’s determined that a redline must be invoked. Daddy Warbucks Bandar is the jefe greasing the skid$ that facilitate the movement of the contraband up from Dimona through the Golan and into the eager waiting hands of cheerful fixer Okab Sakr waiting across the border. He knows what to do……

    As far as proving anything one would need samples of the Israeli supply to run against samples of the dispersed product. They would need to assay out in patterns that echo each other. BTW, you are a fool to entirely dismiss your countryman’s obvious learned expertise. It reveals that your agenda trumps all. Sarin isn’t the only toxic arrow in Assad’s quiver.

    Gleb. The personal attacks are designed to divert conversations from substantial discussions that advance the knowledge base. It hard not to rise to the bait but one learns to suss out those solely interested in chucking their rotting chum your way.

    Don’t feel obligated to swallow it.

    Posted by lally | September 25, 2013, 1:39 am
  69. A Degrading Discourse, indeed.

    (1) With respect to your last post, AIG, please look carefully at the very post of mine that you are quoting. Once again, I ask the question – do you read my posts or do you just skim the first sentences?

    (2) With respect to the issue of circumstantial evidence – you are likely right in relation to United States – I don’t know, I have to examine the relevant caselaw. As for Canada, we have different principles at play:

    “where a jury’s verdict rests solely upon a basis of circumstantial evidence, the jury, before finding an accused guilty, must be satisfied not only that the circumstances are consistent with a conclusion that the criminal act was committed by the accused, but also that the facts are such as to be inconsistent with any other rational conclusion than that the accused is the guilty person.” as per Supreme Court of Canada, The King v. Comba, [1938] S.C.R. 396 (otherwise known as the test in Hodge’s case)

    What that translates to, in practice, is that direct (or corroborative) evidence is required to eliminate any possibility that the accused is innocent. Apply that to al Assad’s case – can you eliminate every other rational conclusion, such as that the rebels used CW?

    I rushed to state a principle of common law, expecting it to apply everywhere, but it appears that in the United States, the relevant principles are different. Interesting find and gives me some interesting ideas for a future blog post.

    I have now realized that the worst mistake I made was engaging with you in a debate at all. At the very least, I have learned how to tackle those of your kind in any such future debates.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 1:44 am
  70. Lally,

    Thank you for jumping in – I was starting to feel I was alone in this world. I am very much a novice to this type of political debate. The regulated rules-based legal debate is a very different creature, and, as it turns out, much easier to handle. I am learning :), hopefully quickly enough.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 1:49 am
  71. In the absence of data, logic is our only weapon and our sole resort – the world of justice post 9/13 and the UN Report disaster.

    (Mostly said in jest, but there is a grain of frustration there too)

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 2:01 am
  72. “HE DID NOT DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN MOADAMIYA AND ZAMALKA – ASK HIM THAT POINT DIRECTLY AND WE WILL AT LEAST HAVE HIS RESPONSE INSTEAD OF YOUR MIND-NUMBING REPETITVE SPECULATION.”

    Here’s one of Dan’s tweets. Wasn’t hard to find. Seems pretty specific to me.

    “@IvorCrotty I do not share @snarwani ‘s opinion regarding #Sarin at Moadamiyah, due to samples 1,2,3,9, and 12 from part 7.1 of UN Report.”

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 2:09 am
  73. It occurs to me that a probable reason that the results for Zamalka are so much more impressive than for Moadamiya is that the M14 warhead only carrys 2.2 liters of sarin vs. 50-60 liters for the UMLACAs.

    I also notice that all of the Moadamiya samples that came out negative are samples from floors, walls, clothing, and fabric pieces, whereas none of these sorts of items were among those tested from Zamalka. As Mr. Kaszeta writes in his comments on the UN report, “the positive samples were from places where I would have looked for samples, such as metal fragments, soil samples, rubber gaskets, and window seals. These are locations where small amounts of Sarin could persist.”

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 3:33 am
  74. Reblogged this on Eliane Fersan.

    Posted by ellefersan | September 25, 2013, 5:46 am
  75. AIG, are you an idiot?

    Gleb,

    What were saying about “ad hominem”?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 25, 2013, 6:48 am
  76. “AIG, are you an idiot?”

    I guess when all logic fails; attack the person; and spam! Great lawyer skills. Keep it up gleb. 😀

    Lally…You Canadian eh?

    Posted by danny | September 25, 2013, 7:30 am
  77. However, before I depart for the day (if Elias ever lets me back in after my inexcusable gaffe worthy of AKRAM P’s favourite Dubuya Bush), I cannot resist sharing this other interesting piece of the puzzle – a pharmacological assessment of the flawed video evidence presented to the US Congress prior to the release of UN Report. This is an anlysis of that “damninng” evidence that was trumpeted as a casus belli before the UN Report changed the game. It offers yet another irreconcilable discrepancy between all these strands of the circumstantial evidence that is being brandied as an “answer”:

    http://logophere.com/Syria/Syria%20Docs/Ltr%20to%20Congress.pdf

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 7:32 am
  78. Danny, welcome to the discussion – you are right on topic! It’s Gleb Bazov day, as you correctly suggest – who cares about Ghouta and Moadamiya. If you have something to contribute, I would be happy to respond later. Kind regards.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 7:42 am
  79. Gleb,

    You are ignorant about Canadian law also. Circumstantial evidence is enough to convict under Canadian law:

    “The judge said it wasn’t practical in a cross-border case to require prosecutors to produce foreign evidence proving payment or receipt of bribes.

    It was enough for a conviction, he said in his August 15 decision, to have circumstantial evidence. He cited emails to and from Karigar that referred to the bribery scheme, and records of money transfers from CryptoMetrics’ U.S. unit to Karigar’s bank account.”

    http://www.fcpablog.com/blog/2013/8/27/canada-conviction-in-india-bribe-scheme-based-on-circumstant.html

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 9:09 am
  80. Could an explanation for the Moadamiya area be, that the contamination happened through the DIMP chemical instead of SARIN? If SARIN can be produced, so can DIMP. And DIMP is less toxic which would explain the non typical medical symptoms of the victims…

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 9:11 am
  81. Lally,

    So you admit you have ZERO evidence for any alternative theory. It is so easy to say that something like Israel providing the sarin is “plausible”. But when you do not have ONE shred of evidence to support what you are saying, well… it just shows what your standards are.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 9:24 am
  82. Guys,

    Please don’t insult each other. This is a worthy debate and everyone here is intelligent and capable of being well-mannered.

    I’m going to be putting up a new post with a link to an important event at Brown this afternoon, but feel free to keep this debate going.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 25, 2013, 9:48 am
  83. Here is a tweet from Dan Kaszeta, the expert who wrote the report Gleb is trying to use to cast doubt that sarin was used in Moadamiyah:

    Dan Kaszeta ‏@DanKaszeta 2h
    @Brown_Moses @justys70 The ‘No Sarin in Moadamiyah’ assertion is based on a faulty interpretation of the data and is a canard.

    This shows again how Gleb “the lawyer” using “logic” because he is a “fast learner” claims to know more about what Dan has written than Dan. He is trying to use Dan’s report to come to the exact opposite conclusions than Dan did and claims to know better than Dan what Dan wrote.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 9:54 am
  84. QN,

    This is as much a worthy debate as the debate whether the Armenian genocide or the Holocaust happened. I am a little sad you do not see this. All these “science experts” coming out of the woodwork reminds me of the arguments how it was “scientifically impossible” to gas so many people in Auschwitz based on the size of the crematoriums.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 9:57 am
  85. AIG

    I think you’re overstating matters. Every mainstream publication has devoted many yards worth of column inches to the conundrum of who was responsible for the gas attack. This is not a fringe debate. I personally feel the evidence is very compelling for a regime-side action, but I don’t think it hurts to hear all the naysayers out first.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 25, 2013, 10:02 am
  86. QN,

    I agree that the naysayers should have their say, but that is different from agreeing that this is a worthy debate. Once the UN report was out, I did not see one mainstream publications that did not come to the conclusion that the regime is responsible. What is most troubling about this debate is the attempt to set an impossibly high standard for “proving” responsibility for an atrocity.

    If a nuclear explosion occurred in Beirut, would you have patience for a lengthy debate who was responsible for the bombing, a discussion that would delay any action? Would it not be 99% clear that Israel did it, and wouldn’t you want the world to act immediately? If Israel would say we didn’t do it and that it was an Iranian bomb smuggled to Hezbollah that went off, what would you do? Would you say, that the onus is on the Lebanese government to show Israeli culpability since it is the accuser?

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 10:16 am
  87. Elias,
    You are doing your blog a disservice by allowing Gleb to post anything further. He or she has yet to address any of the valid questions raised by AIG, who seems to be conducting himself in a respectful manor. I would question the validity of whether this Gleb person is actually a lawyer. He or she appears to be pushing a form of discourse based on hearsay and conspiracy theory. The validity of his or her arguments do not warrant further discussion as they appear to lean on the side of mere propaganda than on wisdom. It’s your blog and it’s up to you, but if you want anyone to contribute to this discussion with valid arguments, they will not be able to get past the nonsense being written by Gleb.
    Peace out.

    Posted by Hutch | September 25, 2013, 10:22 am
  88. Again I want to ask the question to the experts: Could a scientific explanation for the Moadamiya area be, that the contamination there happened through the DIMP chemical instead of SARIN? If SARIN can be produced, so can DIMP. And DIMP is less toxic which would explain the non typical medical symptoms of the victims…
    I think the question is relevant because for Moadamiya, DIMP has been detected and not SARIN and this seems to be the crux of the discussion.

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 10:58 am
  89. Oh, Dear AIG, you have gone much too far. I have cited a court decision on the issue and explained my position. In response you are citing a newspaper article … which does not contradict my point whatsoever. I will find the decision itself and provide you with a link.

    Claiiming that I am ignorant of Canadian law when you have no idea what you are talking about is bordering on libellous. Kindly, be careful.

    Focus on the dispute at hand and leave matters you know nothing about alone.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 11:07 am
  90. Dear Hutch, yet again, just watch what you say. Look me up first and then make statements. My credentials are available on the internet freely. Just put my name in Google. See what turns up. It is very impolite to do what you are doing. Google is at your fingertipes. My law firm is in Toronto, Ontario. The rest is up to you. Just watch what you say, sir.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 11:10 am
  91. And, unlike the bunch of you, I do not hide behind an internet handle. I use my own name. Good luck with your inability to engage in a construcctive discussion. It appears all you can do is invent lies and fabricate fraudulent personal allegations. Well done. The yay-sayers should be proud that you are in their camp.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 11:14 am
  92. And, finally to shut you all up, here is a link to the Law Society of Upper Canada website. I am not linking my lawfirm’s site, for professional reasons, but this should suffice to keep the jackals at bay: http://www2.lsuc.on.ca/LawyerParalegalDirectory/memberDetailsSubmit.do?iD=Qw6F1FUwgq0%3D&startPoint=0&currentPoint=0&direction=Back+to+Results

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 11:17 am
  93. Guys

    Gleb Bazov is a lawyer with a public profile online.

    Leave the ad hominem attacks at the door please. And until you’re prepared to post under your real identity, don’t question someone’s credentials and competence.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 25, 2013, 11:22 am
  94. QN,

    And why can’t we question Gelb’s competence when he admits that he was wrong that in the US one can convict based on circumstantial evidence? That seems pretty incompetent to me. He is also wrong about Canada not allowing convictions based only on circumstantial evidence but won’t admit it.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 11:40 am
  95. Here is an explanation of circumstantial evidence in Canadian law and it clearly explains under what conditions there could be a conviction in Canada only based on circumstantial evidence:
    http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Canadian_Criminal_Evidence/Circumstantial_Evidence

    This is the guiding principle:
    Hodge’s Case (1838), 2 Lewin 227, 168 E.R. 1136 per Baron Alderson regarding a case made entirely of circumstantial evidence, the court must be satisfied “not only that those circumstances were consistent with his having committed the act, but they must also be satisfied that the facts were such as to be inconsistent with any other rational conclusion than that the prisoner was the guilty person”
    also considered in R. v. Linn 1994 CanLII 4643 (SK CA), (1994), 116 Sask.R. 203, [1994] 4 W.W.R. 305 at para. 13-15 and R. v. Munro, 2001 SKQB 138 (CanLII) at 13-14

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 11:51 am
  96. Further proof that in Canada you can convict only on circumstantial evidence:
    http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/H/HodgesCase.aspx

    This passage from the above link makes it perfectly clear:
    ———————-
    From Mezzo v The Queen, Canada’s Supreme Court, at [1986] 1 SCR 802, (published at canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/1986/1986canlii16/1986canlii16.html):

    “(W)here all the evidence is circumstantial the accused can be found guilty only if the evidence is both consistent with guilt and inconsistent with any other rational conclusion.”
    ———————

    There is no doubt whatsoever. Gleb is just plain wrong. In Canada, one can convict based on circumstantial evidence only if the above applies. How can a Canadian lawyer be so wrong about such a basic issue unless he is incompetent?

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 11:56 am
  97. Dear AIG,

    Please see my post above, where I state:

    “As for Canada, we have different principles at play:

    “where a jury’s verdict rests solely upon a basis of circumstantial evidence, the jury, before finding an accused guilty, must be satisfied not only that the circumstances are consistent with a conclusion that the criminal act was committed by the accused, but also that the facts are such as to be inconsistent with any other rational conclusion than that the accused is the guilty person.” as per Supreme Court of Canada, The King v. Comba, [1938] S.C.R. 396 (otherwise known as the test in Hodge’s case [the formulated test is known as the Hodge’s test, no the Comba case])

    What that translates to, in practice, is that direct (or corroborative) evidence is required to eliminate any possibility that the accused is innocent.” You need something more than just beyond a reasonable doubt – you need also positive EXCLUSION of any other alternative theory. In practice, that, almoat always means that circumstantial evidence by itself, is insufficient. With circumstantial evidence by itself, there is almost always another rational theory that cannot be completely excluded. Ergo, what I said.

    If in US the rules is relaxed compared to what we have in Canada – I do not know and do not care, to be honest.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:00 pm
  98. Anyways, my times is wasted on you. I started by talking about Moadamiya samples and ended with debating the principles of criminal law, taking me back to my law school days. Well done, infowarrior.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:02 pm
  99. I cited the test what you found just now many hours ago. Yet again, do you read my posts?

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 12:04 pm
  100. A pity that the discussion moved away from the UN chemical report! Who´s interested in the Canadian legal system! Can anyone answer my question if it is possible that Moadamiya was contaminated by DIMP instead of SARIN?

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 12:05 pm
  101. Dear Gleb,

    Your interpretation is just wrong. This is just plain false: ” In practice, that, almoat always means that circumstantial evidence by itself, is insufficient.” No it doesn’t. It means that the jury has to go the extra step to consider any biases it may have and actively search for an alternative rational explanation as this article explains well:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=657781

    In any case, you claimed that circumstantial evidence is not enough to convict and that you ALWAYS need additional evidence. You were dead wrong about this basic tenet of Canadian law as you now admit and are backpedaling. Now you are saying that in fact circumstantial evidence is enough to convice but only in rare cases. And you are wrong again.

    As for Moadamiya, Dan who wrote the report you base your whole case on, has clearly said that your interpretation is wrong and that sarin was used there too. What is there to discuss?

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:12 pm
  102. Grit,

    Your question is elementary and that is why it was ignored. IMPA was detected in Moadamiya and that is a unique identifier of sarin. So sarin was clearly used in Moadamiya.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 12:14 pm
  103. Here’s Dan’s response to Brown Moses’s questions regarding Narwani’s piece:

    http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/a-chemical-weapons-expert-responds-to.html

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 25, 2013, 12:21 pm
  104. AIG,
    IMPA is also an identifier of DIMP (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12726753), so why isn´t it possible that DIMP was used instead of Sarin. Apparently DIMP is used in the military to simulate Sarin…

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 12:50 pm
  105. Dan Kaszeta has sent me an FAQ he’s prepared about the sarin business.

    I’m going to devote a post to this document tomorrow, but in the meantime, you can read it here.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 25, 2013, 12:58 pm
  106. Here is Dan Kaszeta’s updated paper on the subject of Sarin use on August 21, 2013:

    http://strongpointsecurity.co.uk/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/FAQ-on-D-Kaszeta-comments-on-UN-Report-25-Sep-2013.pdf

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 1:08 pm
  107. Sorry, did not see you there before posting, Elias.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 1:09 pm
  108. So Gleb, why glib? Do you now admit that you did not understand what Dan meant in his report and that were completely wrong?

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 1:35 pm
  109. All in good time, my dearest AIG, I trust you will be waiting with baited breath for the next time I let you to taste the fruits of my analysis. Don’t worry, it will take some time, but the withdrawal symptoms will not kill you. You’ll live. My best, dearest friend.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 1:41 pm
  110. Looks like you are not trying to “understand” Gleb. People who are trying to understand admit when they have been so spectacularly wrong.

    Posted by AIG | September 25, 2013, 1:56 pm
  111. Grit, that abstract you cite shows nothing of the kind. Is there some relevant quotation in the actual paper you’d like to share?

    I think the most obvious answer to this conundrum about the differing test results is that the Moadamiya munition has a much smaller payload. This is also an explanation given by D. Kaszeta. Its strange to me that more people haven’t taken notice of this factor, but perhaps they haven’t been looking for an explanation so much as something to get Assad off the hook with.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 2:29 pm
  112. Late to join the party here, and I’m still reading the detailed comments from Gleb and AIG…

    One point to make though. And this may appeal to the lawyer in Gleb.
    My point is regarding the dispute over whether 1 out 13 samples testing conclusively positive is a “smoking gun” or to be viewed based on scientific principles as suspicious, since it’s such a small percentage of the statistical sample.

    My comment is this: Let’s say you have a crime scene (this is where the lawyer stuff kicks in!) which is analyzed by the law enforcement agency in charge. Let’s say that 13 samples of the furniture and carpet at the crime scene was looked at for evidence, and a pubic hair belonging to the defendant is found in one and only one of the carpet samples. As a defense attorney, would you argue that the sample is not sufficient to prove the defendant’s presence at the scene of the crime because the other 12 samples showed up as clean? Or would you argue (as a prosecutor, probably), that the one hair is enough to prove the presence of the defendant at the crime scene?

    We have to bear in mind that the 13 samples were taken days (more like a week) after the “crime” happened here. And that the party in control of the crime scene had ample time to run the vacuum cleaner, so to speak.

    I get the merit of the scientific argument that one needs a larger percentage of “hits” in a given sample to prove existence of something. Being a scientist myself, I get that argument. But common sense, in this situation, makes me lean in the direction of the “smoking gun” approach. Given the narrative that:
    A crime occured, the party present had days to run the vacuum and clean the area, and when the police finally arrived and looked at 13 carpet samples, they found only one hair.
    I am inclined to think “Good thing the vacuum missed that hair. The defendant was clearly there!” ie “Smoking gun”.
    And I think a good number of jurors would think the same way.
    It would seem very contrived (although lawyers have been known to pull this off) to argue that “Well, if the police had found a significant number of hairs in the carpet samples, it’d be one thing, but one hair is not enough. In fact, quite the contrary, one hair out of 13 samples raises questions about how it got there, and why the other samples were clean and howcome 2 separate labs failed to find anything conclusive in them.”

    My 2 cents. 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 25, 2013, 2:41 pm
  113. AIG, sorry wrong link… Here is the correct DIMP link http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp119.pdf

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 2:46 pm
  114. That paper only demonstrates that IMPA is a METABOLITE of DIMP in the body. In other words, it really has no relevance for the samples taken from the site.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 2:58 pm
  115. AIG,
    The report says that once DIMP gets in the body through drinking or skin, it is changed to IMPA. p3-4

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 2:59 pm
  116. Yeah, that’s what I just said. Its a metabolite, i.e. produced in the body. It has no relevance to the samples taken.

    Oh, also, AIG and I are separate people.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 3:03 pm
  117. Why not? DIMP was found in some samples, and IMPA was also found. The report says that animals can eat is to, and then you get the IMPA transformation (can be an insect that got in the soil sample). The UN reports doesn´t mention concentrations, so we might be talking of very small concentrations that are barely detectable. If we knew the concentrations, it would help a lot to rule out certain possibilities.

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 3:04 pm
  118. Oups, sorry Purity, I am new …
    DIMP seems to be dominant in the disputed samples. Since it is only a byproduct in the production of Sarin and not a degraded form, that seems odd to me.

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 3:09 pm
  119. So you’re maintaining that the victims were poisoned with DIMP (while actual Sarin is being used concurrently nearby) and then animals came along and ate contaminated insects and then (I’m just guessing here) urinated on all the samples that tested positive. The samples that the animals urinated on also just happen to be the ones that you would expect traces of Sarin or its byproducts to persist. Does this seem like reasonable or likely at all?

    A much more reasonable and obvious hypothesis is that Sarin was used and that the test results are less impressive than those from the other region because of the munitions payload and perhaps environmental factors.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 3:14 pm
  120. Ashrawi live cast starting at 4:00pm EST.

    http://bit.ly/pX4QHr

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 25, 2013, 3:21 pm
  121. GRIT, DIMP is also found more frequently than IMPA in the Zamalka samples where actual Sarin was detected. I don’t think that this has the significance that you are trying to give it.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 3:30 pm
  122. UN Report Samples Mix-up / Mis-attribution – Moadamiya Samples
    ———————————————————————————–

    I should wait before I consider this all myself carefully and input in a discussion paper I am preparing, but I can’t resist … besides, I need someone else to provide a sanity check.

    (1) Put together pages 24-25 and pages 27-29 of the UN Report. Then try to correlate Sample #s in Appendix 6 (pp. 24-25) with Sample #s in Appendix 7 (pp. 27-29). Do they match up? Go carefully one by one – you will see multiple mix-ups/mis-attributions (no sinister implication, just very disconcerting).

    (2) Samples #2 and #3 in Appendix 7 (p. 27) are indicated to be “metal fragment.” However each of the Samples #2 and #3 has two sub-samples. I am not sure metal samples were split up – they were noted as “fragment.” In any event, no need for speculation – Sample #3 in Appendix 6 is identified as “pieces of fabric” – not “metal fragment”, as in Appendix 7. Which would make sense, given that there are two tested sub-samples for Sample #3 in Appendix 7.

    My conclusion is that both Sample #2 and Sample #3 in Appendix 7 are actually “pieces of fabric” – so they correlate to any of the Samples #3, #11 or #13. They are not “metal fragments.” However, where does that put the “metal fragments” – i.e. Samples #2 and #8 in Appendix 6?

    There are other mix-ups/mis-attributions as between the Appendices – but you can check those for yourself.

    (3) My primary concern on discovering this is how to fix it. How do we shift Sample #s to match-up Appendices 6 and 7? Which are which?

    It’s difficult immediately to pick a point of origin – Appendix 6 or 7. However, we can at least semi-reliably say that Samples #2 and #3 in Appendix 7 must correlate to Samples #3, #11 or #13 in Appendix 6. But which two are which?

    This is where the exercise may well come to an end. I will give it much further thought, but, at this moment, it is not at all clear to me we can reconcile the Sample numbers without access to the original test samples.

    And also consider – what if the mix-up is pervasive throughout all the environmental samples – both Moadamiya and Zamalka. Which are which then?

    (4) If the metal fragments are not Samples #2 and #3 in Appendix 7, which ones are they? What if they are any of the samples #3, #11 or #13 in Appendix 7 (currently attributed to pieces of cloth)?

    That would mean that NEITHER ONE of the metal fragments has ANY TRACE of Sarin or byproducts. This means that the 140mm shell was not contaminated with anything related to Sarin.

    Then what? If true, that could very well mean Sharmine Narwani was correct (albeit for a different reason). That means that it is quite possible that the rocket found in Moadamiya did not carry Sarin or byproducts. In that case, the whole theory of a Sarin attack in Moadamiya may well be shaken – not sure how much, but shaken nevertheless. Sarin may have been brought to Moadamiya in other ways – which reconciles with my personal concern about the 140mm munition.

    (5) I have no idea yet. I am continuing to analyze and will report to you further.

    (6) I am not going to mention my earlier allegations of a “shoddy report” – enough is enough. Let’s consider real problems.

    (7) Before you ask, I have already punted this to Dan, he noticed the discrepancies too – https://t.co/vJBtUekECK , but he retired from analysis for tonight. Will pick it up with him tomorrow morning.

    Gleb Bazov

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 4:29 pm
  123. There are a whole lot of suppositions and what-ifs here.

    I think the simplest solution to your dilemma is that samples #2 and #3 in appendix 7 are both metal fragments that were split up for testing. The metal fragments from Zamalka were also split up in this manner (are these pieces of fabric too?). In appendix 6, sample #2 was taken at 16:22 and sample #8 was taken at 16:38. Both are from outside terraces, perhaps even the same outside terrace. They were then rearranged thematically, so to speak, for the testing. Appendix #6 would then represent the order in which the samples were taken and appendix #7 would perhaps be the order in which they were actually tested.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 5:12 pm
  124. Purity, make your own conclusions. I don’t believe the explanation necessarily works, but we don’t have to agree. I am glad you read the analysis and considered it. I am not sure there is any way to deal with this issue without access to the original samples.

    You may well be right in what you say, but there is no such explanation in the report. I would have assumed samples would have been organized numerically in the sequence they were taken. And if they were then regrouped, this is a stylistic and methodological problem – creating unnecessary confusion.

    I suspect your explanation is that Dan will come back with, but this question ought to be answered conclusively – not through conjecture, either by you or by me.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 5:22 pm
  125. Again, as I state, you may well be right, but you may also be wrong. There is support for your explanation – for instance, every metal part tested in all sites appears to have two separate test sub-samples (this just brief review – I may be wrong in saying this). However, there are troubling questions about such potential “grouping” – if you consider Appendix 7, there is no apparent grouping whatsoever, not by type, nor by chemical, nor by any other means.

    However, #2 and #3 in Appendix A are just two of the discrepancies. #4, #6, #7, #8, #11, and #12 of App. 7 do not fit with Appendix 6. However, #1, #5, #9, #10, and #13 fit between the two Appendices. I just don’t see any logical grouping/system being used.

    Whether or not there is an issue, this discrepancy must be explained – by the report authors, not by us.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 5:35 pm
  126. You’re limiting your analysis to just the Moadamiya samples. But there are also discrepancies for Zamalka too.

    Actually, perhaps the biggest discrepancy is how appendix #6 lists the samples in three groups (Moadamiya 1: #1-13, Zamalka 1: #1-12, Zamalka 2: #1-5) whereas appendix #7 lists the items as #1-48 and includes additional items such as solvents, wipes, and hair samples. This indicates to me that the numbering in the two appendixes was never supposed to correspond.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 6:26 pm
  127. So… the numbering is not significant and we should be relying on the physical descriptions to match the items in the two appendixes.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 6:32 pm
  128. PURITY, I limited my analysis to Moadamiya because I have a full-time job and have limited time to spare. As indicated in my original post on the subject, it is my intention to do a discussion paper once I have a complete analysis.

    In fact, I did consider and did note expect that there would be discrepancies for Ghouta as well. On my way home just now, I confirmed that there are significant discrepancies. As you will later see, these types of discrepancies are contrary to Procedural Appendices of the OPCW Treaty Organization – in essence, this a procedural/methodological failure in the report – and may well point to a more material flaw (or it may not – I don’t know, nor do you).

    It’s easy to conclude that the Report is right and then dismiss every question with a convenient explanation. However, with important things like CW testing, procedure and methodology must be followed to the tee, as much as possible. It is not a reasonable excuse to say that it looks like it fits, therefore it does. Problem is, it may not fit. It is difficult without knowing how the samples were organized to answer that question. Each sample should have had a reference number that corresponded between the lists. Otherwise, questions start coming up as to why the organization is one way and not the other.

    As I indicated, there may well be a reasonable explanation – but shoddiness is never good.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 6:38 pm
  129. Nor are descriptions consistent between the two Appendices. Consider, for instance, the metal fragments found in Ghouta.

    App. #6

    S#2 – Metal Fragment taken from the floor of the outside terrace.

    S#8 – Metal Fragment taken from the floor of the outside terrace of an apartment.

    App. #7

    S#2 – Metal fragment taken from the floor of the outside terrace.

    S#3 – Metal fragment.

    Which one is which? Can you tell? How do they correllate? I don’t know. There is probably an answer, and that answer may well be material, as the two metal fragments exhibit different trace chemicals, but there is no way of telling, unfortunatley. We can surmise, but no certainty.

    And, moreover, what is this second metal fragment anyways? There is no clear indication of a second metal fragment. We know there is the 140mm rocket motor, but there is no clear discussion of a second metal fragment in the Report. Except this “masonry debris and smaller metal fragments were noted and relevant samples were taken both inside the apartment … as well as from the debris field.” Which additional metal fragments, apart from the rocket motor, were taken and tested? And why? What was the guiding rationale? we also know that evidence had been “clearly … handled/moved.” What evidence was handled or moved?

    Which of the two samples correspondence to which tested sample? Why don’t we have a discussion of the second metal fragment sample tested? These are valid questions that need to be answered, in my opinion. But, instead of reading my conclusions, perhaps refer to the OPCW Procedural/Methodological Annexes, particularly the one on investigation of an alleged chemical weapons attack.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 6:57 pm
  130. Sorry, I meant in Moadamiya, not Ghouta. Apologies for any confusion.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 25, 2013, 6:58 pm
  131. PURITY,
    I´m not maintaining anything. I´m just exploring different ideas and wondering if it would be possible that the Moadamiya environmental samples were not contaminated by Sarin but by DIMP. For my peace of mind, I would like to exclude that before accepting the Sarin as the only remaining explanation. The IMPA would not be there because an animal ate a contaminated insect as you put it, but the insect itself would be picked up in the sample with IMPA as a result. There are different thinkable ways IMPA could get in the sample as a metabolist of DIMP. A mouse could have picked it up and mice urinate continuously (they don´t have a bladder….). I can imagine other scenario´s. Especially as nr 1 is a soil sample (or has that changed now seen the above discussion????)

    I think it is less strange to find DIMP when also Sarin is detected. I would expect Sarin to be detected with a higher concentration than DIMP (it being the by-product). When there is no detectable Sarin or IMPA, how can there be detectable DIMP( which would have a much lower concentration in theory).

    Please contradict me so I can rest my case!

    Posted by Grit | September 25, 2013, 7:12 pm
  132. Gleb,

    You are trying to outdo the experts. Don’t you think that someone(“S”) beside you have already gone over this with a fine tooth comb???? By now you would know that all the nations of the universe have REALLY looked at these investigations very closely and scrutinized it. However; there is no doubt in hell that Sarin was used and all arrows point to Assad.

    I know you have put a lot of effort trying to either find an error or discrepancy. Even misquoting Dan (again read again…his answers to some of the questions raised). Now just let it go and try to litigate some cases at Osgoode Hall. 😀

    Lally; you’ll have another fight one day. Don’t worry.

    Posted by danny | September 25, 2013, 7:24 pm
  133. So an insect was picked up in the soil sample and somehow this was unnoticed when testing was underway? And then a mouse managed to pee on the metal fragments and also a headscarf from one of the victims, possibly also the soil sample? Um, what? Also why would the perpetrators use Sarin in West Ghouta and then use DIMP in East Ghouta? Also, how would DIMP cause all the deaths in Moadamiya when, from what I understand, it is a relatively harmless CW substitute? And how would the Moadamiya survivers then test positive for Sarin? This is silly.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 7:44 pm
  134. Gleb, I think the most natural answer is that 6.2 corresponds to 7.2, since the descriptions are exactly the same. Further, the test results for both are almost exactly the same except for the MPA in 7.3 so this is hair splitting. Also, from reading the report it seems clear to me that the two metal fragments and intact motor are separate.

    Yes, I get your point but this all seems like grasping at straws to me.

    Posted by Purity | September 25, 2013, 7:53 pm
  135. BV.

    So you are also speculating that there was ample time for those in control of the crime scenes to have their way with them? I quite agree. It is only common sense.

    AIG. Generally, I’m not one to provide proof of the fantasy scenario I provided as a favor to yourself. It’s kind of weird & creepy that you would demand such a thing.

    Danny do you ask if I’m Canadian because I talked about chucking chum?……;~{)
    Just cause I’m quiet doesn’t mean I am out of this game. Kaszeta’s invaluable descriptions and notes have suggested yet another track to follow….. & it’s Dan who points the way.

    Posted by lally | September 26, 2013, 12:44 am
  136. Purity,
    Let us look at the problem scientifically and let´s not get emotional. If a soil sample is taken, the complete sample is analyzed. Why would the organic contents be removed? Metabolites may have been included.
    The victims tested positive for Sarin, but what chemical was looked for in the blood? I guess that must be IMPA, since sarin is metabolized in the human body.

    Posted by Grit | September 26, 2013, 2:45 am
  137. DANNY,

    Thaat’s a typical ostrick in the sand response. I am neither trying to outdo the experts, nor have I been unfair in my analysis/assessment, nor do I have all (or any) of the experts. Here is my exchange with Dan Kaszeta, who is also looking into this issue:

    Gleb Bazov‏@gbazov18h
    Sample 3 in Appendix 6 is fabric, but identified as metal fragment in Appendix 7. It must be fabric, because 2 samples for #3.

    Dan Kaszeta‏@DanKaszeta18h
    @gbazov I think there’s a mix up on 2,3,4

    Gleb Bazov‏@gbazov18h
    @DanKaszeta or #13 on App.6 – also multiple “pieces” of fabric. Where do the metal fragments go then? Unclear. Very confusing.

    Gleb Bazov‏@gbazov17h
    @DanKaszeta Question for tonight to consider is which one do we use as a point of origin – App. 6 or App. 7. Are there more mix-ups?

    Dan Kaszeta‏@DanKaszeta5h
    @gbazov I’m using appendix 7. The earlier table is a summary with less data.

    Gleb Bazov‏@gbazov4m
    @DanKaszeta Dan see my further comments in blog post I sent – samples are not identically described – which are which? i.e. Moad metal frags.

    Dan Kaszeta‏@DanKaszeta3m
    @gbazov Short answer is I don’t know. Am digging around on this.

    Gleb Bazov‏@gbazov1m
    @DanKaszeta I understand, me too. I don’t expect you to have all the answers, nor am I challenging you, Hopefully can be explained.

    So, if you have any logical answer that makes sense, please contribute so that we can answer this question. If not, think again.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 9:16 am
  138. I meant I don’t have all (or any) of the answers. NOT “experts”. Quick typing leads to errors.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 9:32 am
  139. PURITY,

    Given the multiple errors in description and loose paraphrasing,

    “Metal Fragment taken from the floor of the outside terrace” is no different than “Metal Fragment taken from the floor of the outside terrace of an apartment.” It’s the exact same description. The outside terrace IS a terrace of an apartment.

    More importantly, which of the two metal fragments is which? That is important, as trace chemicals (including “interesting” chemicals) are not identical.

    Throughout the two Appendices, there are multiple variations in descriptions. Common labels/assigned numbers should have been used to cross-reference samples. As it stands, reference sample numbers appear only in Appendix 7, not Appendix 6.

    In any event, I know of no obvious reason why the order in Appendix 6 would not have been preserved in Appendix 7. That would be common scientific sense, to maintain consistency. It is sloppy and shoddy to do otherwise without explaining why.

    Was there a loss of control, some defect in chain of custody (I don’t mean a fatal defect – i.e. manipulation, just a defect)? My experts in Anton Piller orders mark evidence with a reference number immediately upon it being taken from the scene of a search/investigation (a civil, not criminal search order – in criminal searches the requirements are even more stringent).

    In any event, there is no rhyme or reason to the manner in which Appendix 7 samples are organized. The organization in Appendix 6 is natural (i.e. chronological sequence of the samples being taken). It would have been very easy to simply follow that order of organization. However, the drafter chose a different order in Appendix 7 and scrambled (but not entirely) the order of the samples. That should be explained. Same with misdescriptions and loose paraphrasing. After all, the descriptions appear to be the only thing linking the two Apendices together for cross-reference purposes.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 9:44 am
  140. BAD VILBEL,

    Here are my responses:

    (1) Samples in Moadamiya were taken approximately 5.75 days after the attack. Not a week, but not a day either;

    (2) From 13 results, only one tests positive, and then only for DIMP & IMPA (Lab 1) and IMPA (Lab 2) – (GB Note: I have used the more common abbreviations for IMPA instead of UN’s IPMPA moniquer).

    The remaining 4 “positives” are disputed results, and would be considered to be unreliable evidence in court proceedings. Experts from both labs would have to be called, their methodologies, procedures, and chain of custody evidence would be tested, and a determination on their conflicting evidence would have to be made. Although, in court, all evidence would be considered in totality, chances are, particularly given the high “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof and the burden of proof resting on the prosecution, the disputed “positives” would be discounted in weighing evidence (just extrapolation/conjecture in my part, but reasonably based, based on my experience).

    (3) A suggestion that the sole positive result, where only trace chemicals are detected, is akin to finding a “pubic hair”, is wrongheaded, at best argumentative.

    A strand of pubic hair is physical evidence directly implicating a wrongdoer. DNA testing, colour matching, physical observations can be performed that would provide a substantiated link to a potential perpetrator.

    It is no different, in a sense, than finding a murder weapon – i.e. a bloodied knife or a discharged gun. Similar to a strand of pubic hair, in the case of the latter two examples, fingerprint identification, ballistic analysis and/or evidence of gunpowder discharge on the hands of the perpetrator would be necessary to provide a substantiated link to the accused. Without that, the gun or knife are just that – a gun and a knife, possibly murder weapons, but no more, and no less. Attribution through further analysis is essential.

    Moreover, the pubic hair as a “smoking gun” analogy only works if (a) you exclude the possibility of it being planted, and (2) there is no other innocent means whereby a pubic hair could have ended up on the carpet. Most sexual assaults are perpetrated by individuals known to the victim, individuals with whom the victim may be in familiar relations. Anyone scratched their pubic region recently absent-mindedly? What if the pubic hair fell off the clothing, where it was previously inadvertently deposited? To even begin using a strand of pubic hair as a “smoking gun” for the purposes of a conviction you would have to exclude any inconsistent innocent explanations.

    (4) The sole positive (soil) in Moadamiya is not akin to a strand of pubic hair. If you insist on using the analogy (I think it is a poor analogy, even the cliché “smoking gun” is far better for our purposes), then the sole positive with trace chemicals is a lot closer to an imprint of a pubic hair on a carpet.

    The conclusions I will leave to you.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 11:25 am
  141. Gleb,

    You continue with your nonsense. The 5 or 6 positive results from Moadmiyah show beyond reasonable doubt that sarin was used there. Dan, your favorite expert explicitly said that. They are not disputed results. The labs used tests with very low false alarm rates as is the standard and the chances they would detect sarin by products by chance is extremely low. As usual you are just blowing smoke out of your behind in an attempt to muddy the waters. Here is a simple challenge for you. Find ONE expert who agrees with you, just ONE. Why is it so difficult for you to find ONE such expert? Otherwise, all you write is pure nonsense.

    And we are also waiting for your alternative theory because here is logic 101 for you: Either the regime did it or not. So far there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that the regime did it and ZERO credible evidence of any kind that somebody else did it. You can try to mussy the waters as much as you want, but without a credible alternative theory, any reasonable person would conclude that the regime did it.

    Posted by AIG | September 26, 2013, 11:50 am
  142. AIG,
    I don´t agree that the positive results from Moadmiyah show beyond reasonable doubt that sarin was used! As I mentioned before, DIMP can be produced on its own and IMPA is a metabolite of DIMP. At least we would need the measured concentrations of the chemicals to enable us to inch closer to ´beyond reasonable doubt´.

    Posted by Grit | September 26, 2013, 12:07 pm
  143. AIG,

    Now we know that sarin was used (duh), and that the Syrian government was responsible for these weapons, what do you suppose is preventing President Obama from acting on his “redline”?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 26, 2013, 12:26 pm
  144. Grit,

    Not only DIMP can be produced on its own, IMPA also. So what? You want us to believe that these unique identifiers of sarin were in fact not the result of sarin degradation or impurities, they were the actual manufactured agent that was used and dispersed, Yeah, right. That is an inference no rational person would make given the totality of the evidence. Even the Russians are not stupid enough to claim this. They are trying to insinuate that the sarin was used by the rebels (despite ZERO evidence that the rebels had sarin). But go ahead, keep muddying the water.

    Posted by AIG | September 26, 2013, 12:26 pm
  145. AP,

    The fact that any action is not popular with Republicans nor Democrats nor Independents in the US.

    Posted by AIG | September 26, 2013, 12:28 pm
  146. AIG, you said a very curious thing – not only DIMP can be manufactured, but also IMPA.

    You are more or less correct – most chemical substances can synthesized. However, some chemical substances have multiple uses, including (1) civilian uses, and (2) military uses (i.e. as a precursor), while other chemical substances have no utility and have no viable application.

    So, I wondered, what use or application would Sarin-acid (IMPA) have? I doubt it would be used in an industrial process, and it does not appear to be a chemical precursor for military applications – it is a breakdown product of a final-form nerve agent, and, as such, more or less useless. So, I looked around. There are only 4 labs worldwide that supply Sarin-acid. 1 in South Korea, 1 in UK, and 2 in US.

    LGC Standards, a UK lab, has the following on its IMPA Safety Data Sheet:
    http://www.lgcstandards.com/WebRoot/Store/Shops/LGC/FilePathPartDocuments/ST-WB-MSDS-1156011-1-1-1.PDF

    · Trade name: Isopropyl methyl phosphonic acid (IMPA)
    · Reference number: IPO UCI 011
    · CAS Number: 1832-54-8
    · Application of the substance: Reference material for laboratory use only.

    I am not going to look what DIMP applications or uses are (I seem to recall DIMP is a precursor and/or used in the synthesis process of Sarin). However, the only use of IMPA appears to be as a “reference material for laboratory use only.”

    A number of chemicals out there are “reference materials for lab use” – they are not produced widely, and are mostly used for testing purposes – to serve as control spikes. I suspect that’s the only use for a synthetically manufactured Sarin-acid. I fail to see any other use.

    So, since you mind fails to understand why GRIT is asking his questions, I sincerely hope I have given you a workable crutch so that your brain can limp to an answer. Sorry, no instruction provided for the crutch, so if your grey cells boil while reading the above, that’s at your own risk. Toodaloos.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 1:01 pm
  147. Dearest AIG, I have asked an scientific/legal expert who agrees with me as to the poor quality of the report (and with whom I have been communicating) whether I can quote him with attribution. If he agrees, then I will provide his thoughts. If he does not or even if he feels uncomfortable about being quoted in this forum, I will not.

    And, AIG, watch both ways before you cross the road! We would not want to lose an important contributor to this debate. Kind regards.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 1:11 pm
  148. By the way.
    You guys are now simply repeating the same comments over and over. I just read today’s latest comments and they are identical to yesterday’s.
    Gleb repeats: The samples do not prove the regime did it, because they are in contradiction, not enough evidence, DIMP and IMPA do not necessarily mean they came from Sarin.
    AIG repeats: You’re mudying the waters and being intentionally disingenuous. You fail to offer an alternative explanation.

    Time for some new stuff!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 26, 2013, 1:14 pm
  149. Gleb,

    So again you have ZERO experts that agree with you (except of course your imaginary friend that you can quote or is afraid to make his opinion known here or any other place). Give us ONE expert that agrees with your nonsense. Not 2 or 3, just ONE. You can’t even do that. Because there are ZERO experts that agree with you. Because what you write is nonsense.

    And thank you for the death threat you send me:
    “And, AIG, watch both ways before you cross the road! We would not want to lose an important contributor to this debate. Kind regards.”

    You are a grade A sleaze bag.

    Posted by AIG | September 26, 2013, 1:36 pm
  150. BAD VILBEL,

    I am slowly making my way through the report from the standpoint of my expertise – legal – by applying the known procedural/methodological/evidentiary standards of the OPCW Treaty Organization – the Appendices to the treaty and other known and applicable standards (criminal, civil, etc. evidence-gathering techniques). Discussion papers take a long time.

    As for new stuff – the new stuff is the procedural/methodological mess in the Appendices – nobody to date, as far as I can tell, has noted that. In a court of law that would be significant and likely very damaging to the UN Report. Also, failure to identify the second metal fragment in the UN Report. Is that new enough? Other stuff is more technical and would have to be part of a larger analytical package. I am just throwing in tid-bits for others to consider and debate.

    As for IMPA/DIMP debate – not my idea, although I think it is a very interesting a worthwhile note by GRIT. I just weighed in on the subject. My point, as you noted is broader – the evidence in Moadamiya is lacking. GRIT’s suggestion that DIMP is a usable chemical that is manufactured on its own and could have been present without Sarin being used is a very worthwhile idea that merits further investigation.

    I also replied to your earlier comparison of trace chemicals to a strand of pubic hair. Thoughts?

    Kind regards.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 1:36 pm
  151. AIG, that was not a death threat, you silly bugger. You are not serious, are you? You matter very little to me, and I have not hurt a fly in my life.

    I have no idea who you are or where you live. That was me caring for your well-being (albeit in a very sarcastic way) – I want to make sure you pay close attention to other stuff that comes in as we discuss this subject further. I would not want you to miss out on future thoughts from your favourite subject – me.

    Anyways, be well. The expert is not imaginary. He has written a paper on the subject already that was provided to the US Congress, albeit it was prepared prior to the release of the UN Report.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 1:40 pm
  152. Gleb,

    Where is the link to the report? It is easy to claim any nonsense without providing any proof. You are hallucinating and your friend is imaginary. If here were not, you would have already provided a link to his report or web page or any written document. But you have not, because you are either lying or hallucinating.

    And of course only idiots would contemplate the possibility that there was no sarin attack, but instead someone planted IMPA or DIMP. Show me ONE expert that even says this is an option worth considering. ONE expert. Let’s not forget that your favorite expert, Dan, has completely contradicted you and says it is clear and damning evidence that sarin was used in BOTH locations tested.

    Posted by AIG | September 26, 2013, 1:46 pm
  153. Anyone interested in switching to a comparatively tame topic (Israel/Palestine, Oslo, peace negotiations)?

    I think this conversation is over.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 26, 2013, 1:51 pm
  154. I can’t attribute my earlier indication that Denis O’Brien is in agreement with my assessment of the report to be shoddy and unprofessional, so, for the purposes of this dicussion consider my statements to be unattributed.

    However, you have asked for the report, and here it the link to the report.

    http://logophere.com/Syria/Syria%20Docs/Ltr%20to%20Congress.pdf

    The letter is an asssessment of the video evidence presented to the US Congress. Clearly, with the addition of the UN Evidence, the analysis would have to be redone.

    As for expertise, he has 35 years professional pharmacology experience, and his credentials are discussed in the report, I believe.

    Anyways, keep chasing ghosts and conspiracies. Be well.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 1:57 pm
  155. Elias, if the discussion is over on this forum, that’s fine, I’ll take my thoughts elsewhere. I don’t see how this discussion is over more broadly, as the questions about the UN Report are becoming more and more interesting by the hour. Most of the questions raised on this forum remain unanswered. Perhaps you can clarify.

    I do agree however, that this particular forum may be inapproprirate for the ongoing discussion, as the collection of views is strongly in favour of striching into the ground and prejudging the conclusions. So, to that extent, it may well be appropriate to take the discussion to fora where analysis is ongoing.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 2:01 pm
  156. “ostriching into the ground”

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 2:02 pm
  157. GRIT, while your alternative theory is not completely physically impossible, it is not a reasonable or rational inference from the totality of available evidence and broader context. I think if an insect was included and tested in the soil sample, this would have been noted. I also don’t think its a likely that a mouse urinated on both metal samples and also the headscarf, which just happened to be the samples tested.

    GLEB, what do you see as the significance of the two slightly different readings from the two metal fragments? What is this supposed to indicate? Two metal fragments were retrieved from Moadamiyah and two were tested; both had very similar results.

    Also, you’re just assuming that the evidence was not marked when it was retrieved because the reference numbers weren’t included in appendix 6.

    Posted by Purity | September 26, 2013, 2:05 pm
  158. Easy Things to do When you need A Boost in the Polls NewZ

    The fact that any action is not popular with Republicans nor Democrats nor Independents in the US.

    AIG,

    That’s never stopped Barry from acting similarly in the past. In fact, if he bombed Assad like Israel has, I could see his approval rating climb to over 50% from the 43% he has today.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 26, 2013, 2:27 pm
  159. PURITY,

    (1) You are forgetting that there is only one positive result – and then only in respect of trace chemicals. The remaining 4 results with trace chemicals are disputed – Lab 1 disagrees with Lab 2. Critically, two of the disputed samples are metal fragments. To me, the metal fragments should have been the ones that were undisputed positives – all logic suggests that. There are explanations, but they are not conclusive. If one of the metal fragments is a piece of the warhead (not explained by the UN Report), then it clearly should have had positive Sarin or Sarin breakdown signatures. That would not change simply because the warhead could contain only 2.4kg of Sarin. All logic suggests that there would be Sarin on warhead fragments. And, yet, the testing of metal fragments is at best disputed. That is why it is so important to me to understand what that second metal fragment was.

    Moreover, if we assume that SAA fired the 140mm warhead (really doubtful, in my opinion, based on information I have already provided) Syria never had imported Russian chemical warheads M-14-S. So, it would have had to be a home-made warhead. And then, why did it shatter so effectively that the UN investigators could not find the warhead itself? I’d imagine that a makeshift warhead would be far less effective than a real warhead. Only questions, no answers, unfortunately.

    So, it could well be that the mouse did not “urinate on the headscarf and the metal fragments.” Each of these are disputed samples, and it could be that Lab 1 was correct and Lab 2 was incorrect – in which case they are clean, or negative samples. Or it could be that Lab 2 was correct. In the case of the soil sample we at least know that both Labs gave consistent results.

    (2) I do not have the (1) expertise, or (2) knowledge (for now – I am currently investigating the issue and will have more understanding going forward) to tell you what the significance of the trace of Hexafluoro Phosphate on Sample #3 and it’s lack in Sample #2 (App. 7) are. I do have some preliminary suspicions. As I learn more, I will advise you. However, two points:

    (a) You are assuming that samples #2 and #3 in Appendix 7 are, in fact, metal fragments. It is not so obvious to me; however, your analysis has merit, and the 2 sub-sample pattern for metal fragments does appear elsewhere in Appendix 7. The failure to apply the same sequences to patterns n Appendix 7 as in Appendix 7 is quite problematic from my standpoint, although it may not be a problem in itself, but rather an indication of deeper underlying concerns about the way evidence was handled or memorializeed by the UN inspectors. There is so far no obvious explanation of this issue from Dan or from others I have asked. My opinion is that there are two answers: (1) benign sloppiness (but then does the sloppiness end there?), and (2) a larger problem (can’t comment on that further).

    Whatever the reason, the OPCW Procedural Appendices were clearly violated in this case. And that’s no good. What other rules were not followed? Why are do the two Labs give such divergent results (throughout the report, not just Moadamiya) for samples? If one was sloppy, which one?

    (b) Don’t forget that neither Sample #2, nor Sample #3 are positive results – they are disputed results. If Lab #1 is correct, but there was a breakdown in the chain of custody, impurities or simple error on the part of Lab #2, and its results are erroneous then both of those samples are clean. Or vice-versa.

    I still come to the point that it is very significant that the results of the two Labs are so divergent throughout the entire testing process. Why is that? Was there some kind of methodological breakdown in Lab #2, was Lab #1 more conservative in its analysis – but how is that? Why would they be more conservative? Were the concentrations so low that they could be considered negligible and come within the margin of error? What is the margin of error (if any) for Sarin/IMPA/DIMP testing? Both Labs are consistent on the control spike tests. But why are they so inconsistent on the sample testing?

    (3) If the samples were marked as they were taken from the scene (which ought to have been the case), this is not at all clear from the UN Report – in fact, in the Report, the opposite appears to be the case.

    Also, don’t forget, a number of samples (not sure whether both biomedical or biomedical and environmental) have NRAT instead of a result – Not Ready at the Time. The Report was rushed – why? The US/Russia agreement had already been signed, there was a quiet down of the tensions – if they needed another week, they should have taken it. And now, they have had more time to revise the report and polish away

    Also, several environmental samples have no results AT ALL in Appendix 7. How is that appropriate? Where are the results? Why have they not been included? There is not even an explanation that they are “NRAT” – the fields are just blank. At best, sloppy – but, even then, inexcusable.

    Looks to me like the Report was rushed before proper analysis, consideration and review could be done – and certainly before some form of peer review could occur – the UN Report would not pass any peer review panel.

    Anyways, sometimes (very often) the devil is in the detail. If someone was trying to rush to a pre-judged conclusion, what we are seeing is exactly what would happen – results would be mixed-up, the report would be sloppy, results would not be explained, conclusions (e.g. azimuth conclusions and analysis) would be mostly confusing (more on that later), caveats would be ignored. Evidence in favour of the pre-judged conclusions would be considered, while evidence against the conclusion would be ignored and marginalized. These types of problems would be obvious in a court of law – when expert reports would be put side by side. The UN Report would lose much credibility on the problems we have been discussion alone.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 2:45 pm
  160. Gleb,
    DIMP is a by-product of the production of Sarin. In good quality Sarin it would only be 2 or 3 pro cent compared to the amount of produced Sarin. That´s why I think the concentrations are very important! I found that DIMP can also by manufactured on its own (used in the military to simulate Sarin without the toxic effects), not only as a by-product. DIMP has as a metabolite: IMPA…. In the blood of the victims it would be detected identical to the IMPA from the Sarin agent. Sarin and DIMP have the same metabolite! IMPA is NOT unique for Sarin. It is a marker for Sarin and DIMP.
    I´m not saying DIMP was used in M. instead of Sarin. At least for completeness sake, we need to do the thought experiment. But I can´t seem to find anybody willing to think in the same direction. Must be me…
    I think the problem you have with the numbering is super important. If there is no traceable numbering of the samples, the whole dossier collapses! Anything is possible then.

    Posted by Grit | September 26, 2013, 2:55 pm
  161. GRIT, very interesting – I’ll punt this to Dan Kaszeta and Denis O’Brien and do some thinking on my own. I can now see what you are talking about. Thank you for the clarification.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 3:02 pm
  162. Gleb,
    The article you mentioned points out the non typical clinical signs in the victims. It seems logical to me that since the clinical signs don´t match completely with the Sarin, exploring and excluding all other possibilities is necessary before accepting the undeniable Sarin.

    Posted by Grit | September 26, 2013, 3:09 pm
  163. GRIT, in furtherance of your hypothesis regarding the use of DIMP vs. Sarin – can you do some more digging/thinking on the symptoms of DIMP exposure and the medical effects it would produce? I will do my own as well, but a joint effort would provide a sanity check and be more effective.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 3:12 pm
  164. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp119.pdf This is a report from the 90´s. Apparently in Arizona there is a big contamination with DIMP due to de CW produced and destroyed there. DIMP is much less toxic but does show some signs of a nerve agent. It has only been tested on animals since there is no point in testing it on humans. There are apparently signs of fatigue, redness of eyes… Maybe DIMP was not the only álternative´chemical. Maybe lots of DIMP and very little Sarin. Who knows? Everything is possible. We do know that Sarin is not the solution to everything we know in Ghoutta. It just doesn´t add up.
    Another thought is, that since Syria is a Sarin producer, they must have problems with contamination of the environment just like they did in the States. How is their drinking water? Are we sure there is no DIMP in it?

    Posted by Grit | September 26, 2013, 3:24 pm
  165. GRIT, the report says on page 5 that the blood tests were positive for sarin AND its signatures. DIMP also does not seem to account for the effects observed and the fatalities. And we have to bring the silly and improbable mouse scenario into play since IMPA is only a metabolite for DIMP. Also, from what I’ve read, DIMP is much more persistent than Sarin itself, so it doesn’t surprise me that it is found so frequently.

    I’ve also yet to see any solid evidence that Syria does not continue to have and use the M14, just suppositions. According to this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PmwjXp45syI), Russia itself still uses this munition.

    I also don’t know why you continue to confuse one of the metal fragments with the M14 motor. The report is quite clearly refers to the motor separately from the “fragments” (plural). Actually, the report doesn’t describe in detail the metal fragments from Zamalka either. However (and this is relevant to the sample codes too), the report informs us of the chain of custody procedures on page 2. It says that “detailed documentary evidence is prepared” before it is “transported to the preparatory laboratory.”

    This all seems like “picking gnat shit out of pepper.”

    Posted by Purity | September 26, 2013, 3:27 pm
  166. Grit and Gleb,

    Instead of wasting everybody’s time, just give us ONE expert that agrees with your nonsense. Just ONE expert. There are plenty out there but none supports your nonsense. In Russia for example, there are many experts in this area, but none have voiced any of your concerns. And of course Dan, the only expert you guys have quoted so far, has clearly said you are wrong.

    Posted by AIG | September 26, 2013, 3:30 pm
  167. PURITY, neither response is on point or satisfactory.

    (1) UN asked for 60-100 test subjects. The opposition only provided 36. Why is that? A big problem according to OPCW Procedural Appendices – the UN team must have been provided with all the test subjects it required.

    And IF so many died, there must have been quite a few who survived too. Unless the exposure was extremely severe – which does not bear out on the basis of evidence in Moadamiya – there are no environmental signs of Sarin, as in Zamalka. In any event, the severe symptoms REPORTED (i.e. seizures, loss of consciousness) by the surveyed subjects contradict the LACK of symptoms OBSERVED in the surveyed subjects (i.e. lack of miosis, lacrimation, involuntary bodily functions, etc.). So, chances are the reported symptoms are being exaggerated. In that case, the exposure was not so severe and more test subjects could have been provided and surveyed by the UN team.

    However, no explanation in the UN Report as to why only 36 instead of 60-100. Was this selective presentation of evidence on the part of the opposition? Why does the UN Report not address this issue?

    (2) Where did the 36 subjects come from? Zamalka? Or both Moadamiya and Zamalka? The opposition could have said anything to UN investigators, just as the subjects themselves. However, if they all came from Zamalka, then the question about Moadamiya starts to become very important.

    (3) With respect to the 140mm Rocket, you are REALLY confusing the issue. Probably unintentionally, but you need to think about this further:

    I call this section, in jest,t the “RUSSIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ARTILLERY”

    (a) The 140mm rocket munition being discussed in Syria’s case is an unguided rocket used in the land-based mobile BM-14 MRLS weapons platform and its towed variation. These weapons platforms were designed in 1940s-1950s and, already in 1960s were succeeded by BM-21 “Grad” MLRS. Russia decommissioned ALL of its BM-14 and M-14 140mm munitions in 1960-1990s. THIS IS CLEAR AS DAY – Look at Military Balance publications to confirm. NOBODY has suggested that Russia has any BM-14s or M-14s in active stock (or even anywhere but a museum). In fact, the only M-14 rocket Sutyagin refers to in his video is the one kept in the RUSSIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ARTILLERY.

    (b) Syria purchased 200 BM-14s and accompanying M-14s (but NOT the M-14-S chemical variations) from Russian in 1967-1969. It also acquired BM-21 “Grad”, which uses 122mm unguided rockets. Syria decommissioned ALL of its BM-14s and M-14s by 1990 (I can provide you with Military Balance publications from 1991-2012 so you can look at them yourself and make up your own mind). Instead of BM-14s, Syria uses BM-21 “Grad” and a chinese variation, none of which can shoot the 140mm munition – the tubes are too narrow.

    Syria has NO BM-14s to launch the 140mm M-14 missiles, and, in any event, the rocket found by the UN is now 46 years (as indicated by the markings showing its date of production). It probably can’t even be launched anymore. In any event, all of Military Balance publications show, consistently, that Syria had no BM-14s or M-14s in its active arsenal since 1990. If any BM-14s are even around (and not scrapped), then they are likely useless – not serviced since at least 1990 and 46 years old, to boot.

    It’s also surprising that Syria would shoot a 1967 rocket, even if they did have one BM-14 that they pulled out of storage specifically to shoot at Moadamiya. Why would they not use later-year orders of M-14s (if they have any left)?

    If Syria were to use an MLRS CW delivery vehicles, they would have used the 122mm BM-21 “Grad” missiles. Coincidentally, the development of Syria’s CW program to the point of weaponizing delivery vehicles is mid-1990s, which corresponds with the time BM-14s and M-14s were decommissioned (in 1990). So any such CW munitions would have been developed for BM-21 “Grad”, not for a clearly outdated 140mm M-14.

    (c) You are asking for evidence that Syria does not use BM-14s and M-14s. Why am I oblliged to provide this? I have shown that all available evidence is to the contrary. How about you provide some evidence SHOWING that Syria has used BM-14s, its towed variation, and M-14s at any point in this conflict. Anything?

    (d) The 140mm rocket BODY that Sutyagin points to as being “in use” is fitted on a DRAMATICALLY different munition – a munition used by a warship. It has a warhead almost 1.5-2 times the size of the M-14 140mm munitions. Are you suggesting that Russians took off the rocket part of a navy munition, provided it to al Assad, who then fitted it on an improvised CW warhead, just to shoot it at Moadamiya???

    SO, NO – RUSSIA DOES NOT HAVE M-14 ROCKETS IN ITS ARSENAL. NEITHER DOES SYRIA.

    (e) BM-14s and M-14s are so OLD, that the last time they were used in a military conflict was in 1993, in Algeria. Only dozens remain in active use among several national arsenals around the world. Interstingly, one of the countries that did retain BM-14s and M-14s as of 2010 is Libya.

    (GB NOTE: I have no idea why I have to regurgitate this again and again, when I have already posted this above).

    (4) I am so confused about Moadamiya metal fragments because the Appendices are so confusing. How is this not obvious to you?

    Both Appendices say “metal fragments” – which metal fragment is which? Why don’t they say, as later for Zamalka – “Metal Fragment of Ordnance” “Metal Fragment of Rocket Body” “Metal Fragment of Warhead”.

    What I am not clear is why are you not confused?

    (5) The “custody procedure” there report refers us to is probably a cut-and-paste job from an existing report or manual. All the indication in how the report was prepared is that OPCW Procedural Appendices were violated. Maybe the chain of custody was violated too? Maybe in one of the two labs – Lab 1 or Lab 2? Maybe that’s why such divergent results?

    Do you believe everything everyone writes? Particularly when there is such clear obvious discrepancies between the procedures and how the report was prepared?

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 4:10 pm
  168. PURITY,

    And, before you ask, there is a clear difference between a warship munition and a land-based system munition. It is not surprising at all that Russia would still use 140mm rocket engines on warship munitions, even if it has decomissioned and scrapped all BM-14s and M-14 140mm unguiding rockets.

    (1) 140mm warship munitions are NOT M-14 140mm unguided munitions employed in BM-14s.

    (2) warships are built to last, very expensive, and they are replaced very infrequently compared to the relatively inexpensive, in comparison, land-based weapons platforms, such as MLRS.

    (3) I would have to investigate the date of design and construction of the warship that Sutyagin refers to, but it does not faze me in the least that this warship still employes 140mm rocket engines (if it does – the two would have to be examined pretty closely to even start determining whether the rocket engines are interchangeable with the M-14s. Even variations of M-14s (high explosive, white phosphorus, and chemical may well use slightly different rocket engines – I am not certain on that, but I am continuing investigation of this issue, and it may well point to whether the M-14 rocket engine found by the UN team was even suitable for a standard M-14-S chemical munitions.)

    Warships last decades, particularly big and expensive ones, so, if the warship was designed and deployed at the time the Russian military doctrine still favoured the use of 140mm munitions, then it would make sense that it had the appropriate-size tubes to launch these munitions. No military in their right mind would replace the launchers on warships – too expensive – so the 140mm standard stuck.

    (3) Sutyagin’s reference to a warship munitions is a red herring, in any event. Russian military experts have determined that the markings next to the electrical plate on the M-14 munition found by the UN give its production year to be 1967. A very old missile, indeed.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 4:46 pm
  169. The point is that none of us know for sure what happened. For it to be 100% certitude, one of us would have to have been there in person, when the rockets were fired, or Bashar gave the order, or when evidence was planted by some 3rd party to incriminate the regime (whichever way you prefer).

    At the end of the day, I tend to favor occam’s razor when it comes to explaining such things.

    People are dying by the hundreds, almost daily in Syria, from shelling, and other fighting, be it from the regime or from the opposition. That is a known fact.

    Shall we go test every shelled site for biological and soil samples to prove that fact? Probably not.

    Why in this particular case, was there such a hubbub? Because things were different. If this had been just another basic shelling (not to diminish the impact of such atrocity in and of itself), it would have passed as daily routine. So clearly, something DIFFERENT happened here. The circumstancial evidence (and yes, none of this well ever pass legal mustard. You know why? Because it’s not a neat incontaminated crime scene, as one would have in a neat murder scene, in the USA, with competent logistics and protocols). So trying to apply legal standards is somewhat moot here, to be honest).
    Back to my point: The circumstancial evidence points to some kind of nerve agent having been used. Why? Simply based on the fact that a lot more people died than they do on a daily routine shelling and that the ways they died are clearly not of the “blunt force due to shrapnel and explosions” type, but rather of a medical/biological/poisoney type (and yes, I am intentionally using non-scientific wording here to make my point).
    So in my mind, this makes the discussion above rather moot. Does it matter whether it was sarin? DIMP? some other poisonous gas? Not in the least!
    Someone clearly poisoned a large number of people in Syria in one swift event on that fateful night.
    I think the more important question becomes WHO.
    And in that context, I find only 3 explanations (And yes, I agree with AIG here that not providing options kind of diminishes the case you’re making, Gleb):
    1. The regime used the CW they possess (the fact that they possess CW is not in question).
    2. The rebels used CW (if so, how was it obtained? Stolen from the regime stores? Supplied by a 3rd party?)
    3. A third party insinuated itself into the scene and poisoned those people. If so, who? and where did they get the CW.

    Of those 3 options, the admittedly circumstantial evidence makes ME lean towards 1. Not because of lab results, or other ridiculous and overly complicated analyses, but simply based on the simplicity of the explanation. Assad has the CW, the attack seemed to come from regime controlled areas and target opposition controlled areas. The US and other intelligence agencies claim to have pretty strong evidence to that (granted, I have not seen said evidence).
    Options 2 and 3, while plausible, simply seem less likely to me. Rebels using CW (when there has been no evidence that they have any) on their own areas, in an attempt to cause western intervention seems far fetched. If that was their aim, they could have done a lot more to get the west’s attention.
    And a third party? Even less plausible, as this would require all kinds of planting of evidence in the soil (and specifically in the very spot the UN inspectors would be picking from, which there’d be no way to tell in advance) and a lot of other completely implausible coincidences and stars lining up.

    Looking at the bigger political picture. If this was some conspiracy designed to cause US intervention, then why hasn’t the US intervened? The US people are against it. The congress is against it. Only the president was for it (and reluctantly at that). If we were to go with the usual conspiracy theory that “The CIA did it”, then I would have to believe that the USA would be ready to go in, guns blazing. Not pussyfooting around strikes and then backing down. So…All this to say, the simplest and most obvious explanation wins, for me.
    Is that scientific? Certainly not.
    Do I have proof? Certainly not.
    Do I have proof to the contrary? Also no.
    Fact is, none of us will ever have “beyond reasonable doubt” proof, one way or another.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 26, 2013, 5:06 pm
  170. You aren’t being attentive to the report. It clearly states that the team requested 80 survivors and was then given 80. The mission then selected 36 of these on its own medical diagnosis, probably because of time constraints. The report also gives the numbers of which of the subjects came from Zamalka and which of them came from Moadamiyah. The rest of your analysis is just an unfounded implied conspiracy with dark aspersions cast on the opposition.

    Your talk about no environmental traces of Sarin ignores the obvious environmental samples and also the type of munition used, as we have gone over again and again. Even your own expert does not agree with you on this. The number of fatalities reported in Moadamiyah are significantly less than those in Zamalka, but they are still there and can not be accounted for with DIMP.

    Re: the M14, if you have solid evidence that the M14s and launchers were completely decommissioned, please provide it. I have yet to see any solid evidence of this. Also significant is that the UN report traced this M14 back to regime controlled territory (even the blogger you like, Sasa Wawa, agrees with this trajectory). I also think it is worthy of note that Russia is still using the same rocket body (not munition, my bad). I don’t see why Syria could not also repurpose these with a new warhead in a similar manner. Nowhere did I mean to suggest the ridiculous scenario outlined.

    I am not bothered by which metal fragment in appendix 6 matches which metal fragment in appendix 7. Both sets are described as metal fragments, and both of those in appendix 7 tested positive by lab 2 for IMPA and DIMP, so I have a hard time finding this significant. I don’t think the idea that these are pieces of fabric is credible and not what the report says they are is credible. I’m also not particularly bothered because the grouping used in appendix 6 (three groups) is different than that used in appendix 7 (one group), which indicates to me that they were never even supposed to correspond. Further, all of the environmental samples in appendix 6 match something tested in appendix 7, even if they descriptions sometimes vary to a slight degree. I see nothing in the report that suggests to me that team did not follow the chain of custody procedures it says it did, just that the person who prepared the report could have done a slightly better job.

    Posted by Purity | September 26, 2013, 5:10 pm
  171. I don’t think the idea that these are pieces of fabric and not what the report says they are is credible.*

    Posted by Purity | September 26, 2013, 5:14 pm
  172. Does anyone have reliable numbers for the half time of Sarin? I think it is quite surprising that so much Sarin was found (and not only the degraded products) after 7-8 days ( I found for half life max 72 hours at 25 C, pH7, it certainly is warmer in Syria and then half life is shorter). Also the presence of IMPA in the blood of the victims after more than a week is surprising. Normally IMPA is removed from the body quite quickly.

    PURITY,
    Do you think something else than IMPA was tested for the blood? After 7-8 days it is highly improbable that Sarin can still be found in the blood. So I guess p 5 testing the blood for ´Sarin AND its signatures´ should be ´Sarin OR its signatures´. Otherwise all the blood samples should have been theoretically negative…
    I agree that DIMP doesn´t account for all the clinical symptoms but neither does Sarin. It doesn´t hurt to try out some thought experiments and test these with the help of other people´s opinions.
    The fact that also IMPA is found does weaken my DIMP theory but it doesn´t exclude it. First, the IMPA is in the contested samples. The sample identification is wrong, the 2 labs don´t have matching results, there are no concentrations given. I can make a new thesis: the contamination happened mainly through DIMP mixed with a little Sarin. Is perfectly possible because un report is incomplete!
    I agree, not everything falls into place with my theses but neither does it with the Sarin theory.
    The majority of people used to think the earth was flat, that didn´t change the fact that it is round…

    GLEB,
    I agree with your discomfort in accepting this M14 unguided missile of 1967 as a Sarin carrier. The samples are so mixed up in the M area that it feels very unscientific to assign the M14 as the culprit. And another aspect. If Brown Moses is right and this missile has a range of 10 km, can you imagine the republican guard, just next to Assad´s palace, firing this military archeology loaded with a barrel of Sarin (also 50 years old?) and firing it over the city of Damascus for it to land at the other side in M. They really must have confidence in their old hardware.

    Posted by Grit | September 26, 2013, 6:52 pm
  173. Dear PURITY and BAD VILBEL,

    I have not ignored you, but clients and such get in the way of love sometimes. Many comments you raise are important, and, rather than just rushing out with verbose answers, I will attempt to provide succinct commentary, once I take an hour or two leave from this virtual home away from home.

    In the interim, however, and to properly address PURITY’s statements, PURITY, would you be able to clarify who is this “your own expert” that you say disagrees with what I am saying and what exactly does he or she disagree with? Not being facetious, just want to be clear.

    Thank you and kind regards, Gleb.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 8:29 pm
  174. Also, in the interim, some food for thought and chum to chew on 😉

    Just in: Most of Syria’s toxins can be destroyed more easily than officials initially thought

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/most-of-syrias-toxins-can-be-destroyed-more-easily-than-officials-initially-thought/2013/09/26/66cd1ca2-26e3-11e3-b75d-5b7f66349852_story.html

    Some key points from the article:

    (1) “the vast majority of Syria’s nerve agent stockpile consists of “unweaponized” liquid precursors that could be neutralized relatively quickly”

    (2) “The insights into Syria’s arsenal have been bolstered further by the Damascus government’s own accounting, which lists the types of chemical agents and delivery systems it possesses and was presented Saturday to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. U.S. officials have reviewed the Syrian inventory, which has not been publicly released, and “found it quite good,” a senior State Department official told reporters.”

    (3) “Syria possesses more than 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, of which about 300 metric tons are sulfur mustard, the blister agent used in World War I. Nearly all of the remainder consists of chemical precursors of the nerve agent sarin, described as being “unweaponized” and in “liquid bulk” form”

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | September 26, 2013, 8:36 pm
  175. Holy Mary mother of God…

    This blog has gone mad.

    Posted by Gabriel | September 26, 2013, 11:30 pm
  176. BV…

    2. The rebels used CW (if so, how was it obtained? Stolen from the regime stores? Supplied by a 3rd party?)

    To quote Galloway, “If some obscurantist Shinto something or another can make Sarin in a cave in Mount Fuji…”

    Maybe it was the Japanese?

    Posted by Gabriel | September 26, 2013, 11:37 pm
  177. It is certainly plausible that the rebels fabricated their own. As I said, I never denied that. I just find it less likely than the most obvious answer, once one accounts for the overall context and situation at hand.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 27, 2013, 1:41 pm
  178. BV,

    It is not plausible that the rebels fabricated their own sarin. Where did they get the know how? Where is their factory? How did they keep it so secret, after all you need well trained chemists and a good facility to manufacture the quantities used. How did they put it in missiles which are being used by the regime as videos give conclusive proof? How did they hide the trucks used to transport the weapons? If they can manufacture sarin, why haven’t they used it again and made sure the West attacked Assad? If they have missiles with sarin, why have they not used them on high value regime targets?

    When you start asking the right questions, it becomes clear that it is not plausible that the rebels are responsible for the attack.

    Posted by AIG | September 27, 2013, 2:44 pm
  179. That’s not what I said, AIG. You read my previous posts?
    I’m saying, in a complete vacuum, if you don’t look at context and situation and other evidence, it is, in theory, possible for the rebels to have manufactured it (just like that group in Japan did in the 90s).
    But once you add the additional context, situational and other factors, that option becomes increasingly likely.
    Can you or I prove “beyond the reasonable doubt” that the rebels didn’t manufacture it? No. We cannot. I suppose, in a far fetched scenario, there could be some Al-Qaeda type chemical expert with knowledge in the matter, and some months spent setting up in a cave out in the desert, and materials being brought in on camel back through the Iraqi desert, or whatever. So yes, it is, in THEORY, possible.
    Is it likely? No. I think it is most definitely a far fetched explanation to what occured. There are just too many indications that it came from the regime side to discount.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 27, 2013, 4:54 pm
  180. *that option becomes increasingly UNLIKELY (typo on my part)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | September 27, 2013, 4:54 pm
  181. Dear Friends,

    I did say I would be back one day with an expert report. So, here I am. And here is the expert report:

    http://bit.ly/GYxFFz

    Much love, and may your debate be fruitful.

    Gleb Bazov

    P.S. I realize I am reviving a likely well-forgotten topic, but promises are promises.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | October 15, 2013, 4:48 am
  182. Gleb Bazov,

    Whether or not is was a chemical attack is irrelavant.

    The REAL “WMD” is Bashar Assad, just like Saddam Hussein.

    Are we to ignore the 100k dead who were NOT killed by WMD?

    Russia and China should be kicked out of the UNSC.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 15, 2013, 7:06 am
  183. AKBAR PALACE

    THAT (regarding the fact that CW is IRRELEVANT) – is the very POINT I have been making ALL ALONG.

    Bashar al-Assad, along with his opponents, are led and infiltrated by monsters. They should all share a cell at the Hague.

    Kind regards,

    Gleb Bazov

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | October 15, 2013, 7:36 am
  184. AIG,

    Regarding whether it is plausible or not that rebels manufactured their own Sarin, why don’t you consider recent Iraqi experience post-invasion?

    ————————————————

    For further consideration of whether a rogue group could organize a clandestine CW program, consider this excerpt from CIA’s WMD Iraq Report (2004), Volume 3.
    (Note that my opinion is that the possibility of opposition developing these capabilities is less than the possibility of foreign participation).

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B43h4G0cv2ViZ044MnF2d0liOHc/edit?usp=sharing

    ————————————————

    Further, please consider additional revelations regarding Aum’s activities in Japan:

    They produced all sorts of CW – mustard (200kg), Sarin, Soman, Tabun, VX. Little knowhow and much trial-and-error, but still did it. In fact, produced so much, had to destroy it quickly to cover it up from police.

    http://t.co/uWJjuGibni
    (more of a summary)

    http://t.co/abN6cmYtq4
    (larger pdf)

    Aum was far more successful in producing CW than is commonly believed. In fact, came fairly close to producing functional BW as well.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | October 15, 2013, 10:45 am
  185. Bashar al-Assad, along with his opponents, are led and infiltrated by monsters.

    Gleb Bazov,

    I would edit your statement to read, “Bashar Assad and the jihadist opposition are monsters, however, Bashar Assad is responsible for this state of affairs as president of Syria. Those Syrians fighting for their basic human rights have a right to fight for their freedom.”

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 15, 2013, 2:35 pm
  186. AKBAR PALACE,

    Too much editing. That’s your position and statement, you are free to make it, but I am not making it.

    To say al-Assad is responsible for someone else’s human rights abuses is preposterous. Fighting for freedom does not have to involve war crimes and crimes against humanity. Plenty of historical examples show that those who want to, can conduct their fight for freedom honourably. FSA and SMC have shown their incapacity in that regard.

    I prefer to charge all the relevant suspects (including leaders of the FSA that gloated with self-satisfaction at the time Latakia was raped and pillaged) and then figure it out at the Hague.

    Best regards,

    Gleb Bazov

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | October 15, 2013, 2:57 pm
  187. To say al-Assad is responsible for someone else’s human rights abuses is preposterous.

    Huh? Assad (and his family) have been leading Syria for the past 40+ years. And because it is not a democracy, they took it upon themselves to be directly RESPONSIBLE for the economy, state security and state laws regarding freedom of speech and elections.

    Fighting for freedom does not have to involve war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    This applies to the the Syrian government as well. It also applies to Hamas and Hezbollah. Of course the UN (under pressure from the dozens of arab and muslim countries) only seem to care whether the GOI is following these “rules of war” and no one else. The silent and unprepared Syrian people who clamored for their rights are now caught between the autocratic Baathists and the theocratic Jihadists. Another in a long list of failures within the arab community.

    Right now, Russia and China are allowing Assad to Scud and destroy as many Syrian neighborhoods as he wants. Which is a crime against humanity. The issue of “proportionality” is only something Russia and China are concerned with when Israel is the perpetrator. Russia and China, have a direct interest in keeping the pressure off a fellow autocratic state. I hope this isn’t news to you.

    I prefer to charge all the relevant suspects and then figure it out at the Hague.

    I prefer to skip The Hague, and make allies with people who now finally “get it” and have come to realize that Israel isn’t the reason why the ME is beset by violence. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for most arabs, but some things take time. It seems the thugs have finally bruised their knuckles. So much murder is strenuous work.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 16, 2013, 7:15 am
  188. Let´s not be so naive, which leader is innocent? The ones that are winning or controlling the media? How would you react (or would I react) in a civil war? Very easy to pass judgment when one is living in safety and in luxury!

    Posted by Grit | October 16, 2013, 5:23 pm
  189. Let´s not be so naive, which leader is innocent?

    Grit,

    We’re talking about 1 “leader”, Assad.

    It would be one thing if he protected his people and kept them safe. That is why he and his family stayed in power so long as the undisputed “winner” in every “election”. At least he was able to throw dissenters in jail and keep things peaceful.

    Now that he has turned on his own people, he has nothing to show and his “original sin” as a self-appointed despot is now called into question. It’s one thing if you’re a self-elected despot and your people can get by. It’s another thing if you’re a self-appointed despot and you’re at war with half your population.

    Now that he has flatened his own cities, caused 2 million refugees and allowed 100000+ of his own people to meet an early death, I would say this billionaire Assad has a little too much “safety” and “luxury” on his hands for the quality of his work.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 17, 2013, 11:08 am
  190. The luxury part was about ´you or me´, not Assad of course (we know that is not his problem). And I mean the luxury of having a normal middle class western life! Believe me, compared to the world average, that is luxury.

    Posted by Grit | October 17, 2013, 12:41 pm
  191. Believe me, compared to the world average, that is luxury.

    Grit,

    Yes, we are lucky. I’m watching from afar like you. I am also watching in fascination how the arabs, Russians and Chinese are letting a rogue nation murder at will, with not one iota of “human rights” involved; a killing field in total free-fall.

    Then, as an American Jew, I compare this state of affairs to the political Hell Israel has always had to put up with, and there are not enough “air sickness bags” to express my feelings of disgust.

    Even today, the Israelophobes only discuss Israel and Israel’s crimes as if the rest of the world is A-Okay.

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/

    http://wallwritings.me/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 17, 2013, 3:54 pm
  192. AKBAR PALACE,

    First, this will probably cause a maelstorm of rhetoric back, but, whatever. Let chips fall where they may.

    You have now twice referenced Israel in your latest postings. At first, I dismissed this aspect of your commentary as idiosyncratic stylings of your narrative. However, the second invocation of Israel in your comment above made me reconsider the issue.

    This discussion is about a war crime (arguably, a crime against humanity) that was committed (though some may choose to say “is alleged to have been committed”) in Syria, Ghouta on August 21, 2013. Our debate is also about the apparent flaws (some would say “alleged flaws”) contained in the report prepared by the UN inspectors that attended on an evidence-gathering mission in Syria shortly thereafter pursuant to a directive of the UN Secretary General.

    What this discussion is not is about Israel. It is not about what Israel did or did not do, now, before, or may or may not do in the future. Your reference to Israel is, accordingly, inexplicable.

    Worse, however, your reference to Israel is deeply offensive to me, personally, for three reasons:

    (1) I find it personally insulting to see Israel being dragged into a debate about a war crime it did not commit. it is biased and prejudiced to see ghosts of recriminations where no allegations have been made against a country. Having worked on issues of hate speech in my career, and having worked with the Canadian Jewish Congress, I see this as a grave offense to my personal values.

    (2) I find it even more troubling that you bring up Israel repeatedly, as if in a preemptive attempt to set up a basis for characterizing those who disagree with you as being in agreement with a proposition lurking behind your statements – that proposition being that Israel is somehow responsible for what happened in Ghouta. I am offended by this aspect of your commentary in a dual manner: first, as someone who believes this type of rhetoric is hateful, unless founded in evidence, and, second, as someone who abhors such disingenous tactics.

    (3) Readers and contributors to this blog should be insulted by the intellectual dishonesty and the fraudulent nature of such rhetoric. Israel is a country that is located in the Middle East, it is not the raison d’etre of Middle East. It has made its fair share of mistakes, and it has also faced its fair share of aggression and adversity. It is not the cause, nor is it the solution to all the problems facing the Middle East. Like most countire, Israel is a vibrant centre of human evolution and also a place where governments do not always act in the interests of the citizens. Israel is at once a driving force behind the changes that Middle East is experiences, but also irrelevant to many of the transformations currently taking place in the region.

    The earlier you accept Israel’s place in this world as a country equal among others, a country with its flaws and its greatness, a country that can contribute to peace and to war, a country that has responsibilities, but also a country with the privileges and the honour of being a subject of international law and an equal member of the international community, the more insight you will gain into the world and the fortunes of the Middle East. And, perhaps, then, finally, you will be able to accept Israel’s undeniable, immutable and irrevocable place in this world.

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | October 17, 2013, 10:16 pm
  193. Gleb Bazov,

    As far as I know, I can say anything I want on this forum at the pleasure of the owner, Brown University’s most distinguished scholar, Qifa Nabki (aka Elias Muhanna).

    This thread deals with UN chemical weapons used in Syria and proving who committed the crime.

    As a supporter of the Syrian people, and their struggle for their BASIC human rights, I think this whole issue is BOGUS and a smoke-screen. Certainly, it is bad enough that about 1500 (mostly non-combatants) were killed in the Syrian chemical attack with about 1/3 of those murdered being children, but this also pales in comparison to the over 100,000 who have perished, the 2 million forced into refugee status, and the destruction of complete villages, neighborhoods, and cities.

    And it all could have been avoided if the self-appointed Syrian president called for immediate free elections. But this selfish bastard put himself before millions of his own people, and here we are today.

    It is biased and prejudiced to see ghosts of recriminations where no allegations have been made against a country.

    Sorry, but I am allowed to express my opinion. And my opinion is that the UN is a load of hot air and bull shit. The world allows wanton mass murder to occur all around the world, and only seems to find Israel to be the main concern of the world. It is my right to point that out to this forum. If you don’t like it, you can skip my post.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/gatoc7.html

    Saudi Arabia should have given their UNSC seat to Israel.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 18, 2013, 7:08 am
  194. Dear AKBAR PALACE,

    I waited some time for you to consider your position carefully. And yet, you have failed to respond to anything in my message.

    Your opinion, which you think you are entitled to express, is an opinion that denies Israel a place in this world. It’s an opinion that is anti-Israeli, and, dare I say it, anti-Semitic.

    And, for that reason, as I am gravely offended by what you say, I have nothing further to say to you or to the likes of you. As someone who has always defended Israel’s right to exist by acknowledging that Israel’s right thereto is irrevocable and immutable, your rhetoric offends my most basic human principles.

    Kind regards,

    Gleb Bazov

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | October 20, 2013, 7:16 pm
  195. “Human Principals” NewZ

    Gleb Bazov,

    What? You’re saying my opinion “is an opinion that denies Israel a place in this world”? That’s a twist. The participants on this forum know me. You obviously do not.

    Now your accusing me, unswerving-American supporter of Israel of anti-semitism? Geez, this is the first time in 20 years posting on the WWW I’ve been accused of this.

    Now I feel more confident my responses were accurate.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 20, 2013, 7:51 pm
  196. AKBAR PALACE,

    And my nemesis reacts. You still don’t understand what I was saying to you. And I stand by every word.

    If we are going to compare the proverbial intellectual genitalia, I can assure you that my contribution to the task of eradicating anti-Semitism in this world far outpaces yours by a SIGNIFICANT degree. You can talk, and that’s all you can. I take legal action and effect change in this world.

    So, I have said to you what I wanted to say. Those who are more intelligent and were listening will understand. You, clearly never will.

    And, with that, I will take my leave of you and this form.

    Kind regards to all of you.

    Gleb Bazov

    Posted by Gleb Bazov | October 20, 2013, 7:58 pm

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