Revealed: rebranded D-Notice committee issued two notices over Skripal affair
May 17, 2018
Spinwatch can reveal that the Skripal affair has resulted in the issuing of not one but two ‘D-Notices’ to the British media, which are marked private and confidential. We can also disclose the contents of both notices, which have been obtained from a reliable source.
That two notices were issued has been confirmed by the ‘D-Notice’ Committee. The Committee, which is jointly staffed by government officials and mainstream media representatives has recently changed its name to the ‘Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee’. The use of the word ‘advisory’ is no doubt a bid to discourage the public from thinking that this is a censorship committee. However, the DSMA-Notices (as they are now officially called) are one of the miracles of British state censorship. They are a mechanism whereby the British state simply ‘advises’ the mainstream media what not to publish, in ‘notices’ with no legal force. The media then voluntarily comply.
Does the UK’s case against Russia stack up?
May 8, 2018
When a former Russian spy and his daughter were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury, it wasn’t long before investigators started looking at the Kremlin with suspicion.
The pair were identified as Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. The British government said they had been poisoned with a military grade nerve agent called Novichok, originally developed in Russia.
Over the following weeks, as the victims remained in hospital, Britain’s relationship with Russia began to fall apart. Diplomats from both countries have now been expelled and all planned high-level contact is suspended.
The stakes could not be higher. With Russia denying any involvement in the attack, the stability of global politics hangs in the balance.
But how strong is the UK’s evidence against Russia? And what do the experts think?
Update to briefing note ‘Doubts about Novichoks’
May 8, 2018
In view of the seriousness of the rapidly worsening relations between the West and Russia, and the quickly evolving military events in the Middle East, especially Syria, we have taken the step to publish relevant evidence-based analysis with respect to the Skripal incident of 4 March 2018. This update to our earlier briefing note covers new material that has become available. We welcome comments and corrections which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or provided in the Comments section below.
Novichok used in spy poisoning, chemical weapons watchdog confirms OPCW says analysis of samples confirms UK findings about nerve agent used in Salisbury attack
May 8, 2018
A tent is secured over the bench in Salisbury where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found critically ill. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA
The international chemical weapons watchdog has backed the UK’s findings on the identity of the chemical used to poison the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
The findings by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be a major relief to the UK, which has said novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia, was used in the attack.
The executive summary released by the OPCW does not mention novichok by name, but states: “The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirms the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.”
Salisbury poisoning: UK experts cannot prove novichok nerve agent used on Skripals came from Russia, MoD says
May 8, 2018
‘We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions’
Giant fissure opens in Hawaii volcano, flinging lava bombs into sky
Accusations and recriminations between Britain and Russia are set to escalate with the news that scientists at the Porton Down military research facility have been unable to establish exactly where the novichok nerve agent used to carry out the Skripal attack was manufactured.
The admission comes the day before Moscow convenes an emergency meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague in which it is expected to demand access to samples from the Salisbury poisoning for analysis by Russian scientists.
‘Pure’ Novichok used in Skripal attack, watchdog confirms
May 8, 2018
London (CNN)The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed the UK’s findings that Novichok was used to target the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.
While the statement from the OPCW does not specifically name Novichok, it says technical experts “confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.”
The UK government says its scientists have identified the agent as a military-grade Novichok nerve agent.
The scientist who developed “Novichok”: “Doses ranged from 20 grams to several kilos”
May 8, 2018
The Bell was able to find and speak with Vladimir Uglev, one of the scientists who was involved in developing the nerve agent referred to as “Novichok”. According to British authorities, a nerve agent from the “Novichok” series was used to poison former Rusian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Vladimir Uglev, formerly a scientist with Volsk branch of GOSNIIOKHT (“State Scientific-Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology”), which developed and tested production of new lethal substances since 1972, spoke for the first time about his work as early as the 1990s. He left the institute in 1994 and is now retired.
The Fraught Cold War History of Novichok
May 8, 2018
The attack on former spy Sergei Skripal thrust the nerve agent Novichok into the spotlight. For many, it was the first time they had heard of the poison, but it has long been a bone of contention between Moscow and the West.
No problem, says Andrew Weber, I can show you the pictures. The weapons expert, formerly a high-ranking official in the U.S. Defense Department, is sitting in a Berlin hotel. He swipes through his smartphone and quickly finds the photos.
One image depicts a reactor constructed of metal, inside of which the deadly chemical agent was produced. Another shows devices lined up in the basement that look not unlike gas masks designed for dogs. Still another is of an elongated, four-story complex that is light beige in color. The area around the structure is undeveloped and there is trash and scrap metal strewn on the ground.
Are ‘Novichok’ Poisons Real? – May’s Claims Fall Apart
May 8, 2018
The British government claims that ‘Novichok’ poisons, developed 30 years ago in the Soviet Union, affected a British double agent. But such substances may not exist at all. The British government further says that the Russian government is responsible for the incident and has announced penalties against the country.
A comparable incidents happened in 2001 in the United States. Envelopes with Anthrax spores were sent to various politicians. Some people died. The White House told the FBI to blame al-Qaeda but the Anthrax turned out to be from a U.S. chemical-biological weapon laboratory. The case is still unsolved.
British Military Experts contradict Theresa May
May 8, 2018
Gary Aitkenhead is the Head of the Military Laboratory for Science and Technology of Porton Down (United Kingdom). On 3 April 2018, he declared speaking for himself and on behalf of his colleagues, that his services identified that the substance used on Sergei and Yulia Skripal was an agent belonging to the Novichok programme but made it clear that they had never determined where it was made.
He declared in an exclusive interview given to Sky News on 3 April 2018:
“We were able to identify this substance as a Novichok and to establish that it is an nerve-poisoning agent of military grade (…) We were not been able to establish the exact source but we provided scientific reports to the government which led it to other sources before reaching the conclusions that it has today”.
Doubts about “Novichoks”
May 8, 2018
The following briefing note is developed from ongoing research and investigation into the use of chemical and biological weapons during the 2011-present war in Syria conducted by members of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda. The note reflects work in progress. However, the substantive questions raised need answering, especially given the seriousness of the political crisis that is now developing. We welcome comments and corrections.
Despite fingering Russia in U.K. spy poisoning, experts say some agents could have gone missing in post-Soviet chaos
May 8, 2018
MOSCOW/AMSTERDAM – The British government says Russia is to blame for poisoning former spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent, and most chemical weapons specialists agree.
But they also say an alternative explanation cannot be ruled out: that the nerve agent got into the hands of people not acting for the Russian state.
The Soviet Union’s chemical weapons program was in such disarray in the aftermath of the Cold War that some toxic substances and know-how could have gotten into the hands of criminals, say people who dealt with the program at the time.
While nerve agents degrade over time, if the precursor ingredients for the nerve agent were smuggled out back then, stored in proper conditions and mixed recently, they could still be deadly in a small-scale attack.
U.S. and Uzbeks Agree on Chemical Arms Plant Cleanup (1999)
May 8, 2018
The United States and Uzbekistan have quietly negotiated and are expected to sign a bilateral agreement today to provide American aid in dismantling and decontaminating one of the former Soviet Union’s largest chemical weapons testing facilities, according to Defense Department and Uzbek officials.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon informed Congress that it intends to spend up to $6 million under its Cooperative Threat Reduction program to demilitarize the so-called Chemical Research Institute, in Nukus, Uzbekistan. Soviet defectors and American officials say the Nukus plant was the major research and testing site for a new class of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons called ”Novichok,” which in Russian means ”new guy.”
Heeft de Britse inlichtingendienst MI5 zitten slapen voor de aanslag bij het Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena of is er meer aan de hand
January 19, 2018
Intern onderzoek van MI5 naar het werk van de inlichtingendienst met betrekking tot Salman Abedi, de man die zich in Manchester opblies, stelt dat de dienst steken heeft laten vallen. Bij de aanslag kwamen vijfendertig mensen om het leven. Het interne onderzoek is niet openbaar. Er zal naar alle waarschijnlijk geen openbaar of parlementair onderzoek plaatsvinden naar de aanslag in Manchester. Het publiek moet het hier mee doen.
Het interne onderzoek spreekt over twee missers van MI5. Er zijn verschillende versies van die twee missers. Het zou gaan om twee inlichtingen die niet terreur gerelateerd waren. Aan de andere kant wordt gesproken over twee afzonderlijke aanwijzingen die in de maanden voor de aanslag bij MI5 binnenkwamen en die zijn blijven liggen. Volgens het interne onderzoek waren de aanwijzingen zeer relevant dus wel terrorisme gerelateerd. Waarom ze zijn blijven liggen wordt niet duidelijk.
Stakeknife: Spy linked to 18 murders, BBC Panorama finds<< oudere artikelen
April 25, 2017
The British spy Stakeknife – described by an Army general as “our golden egg” – is now the subject of a £35m criminal inquiry called Operation Kenova.
The inquiry has been triggered by a classified report which Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC has told Panorama “made for very disturbing and chilling reading”.
What Stakeknife actually did has been wreathed in speculation since he was identified in 2003 as Belfast bricklayer Freddie Scappaticci.
The one stand-out fact, however, has not been in doubt: for over a decade Scappaticci maintained his cover in the IRA by interrogating fellow British agents to the point where they confessed and were then shot.
One British spy was preparing other British spies for execution.
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Stakeknife linked to up to 50 murders
And there were a lot of executions: 30 shot as spies by the IRA’s so-called Nutting Squad which, I am told, Scappaticci eventually came to head.
Panorama has learned that Scappaticci is linked to at least 18 of those “executions”.
Not all the victims would have been registered agents like him who produced the best intelligence.
Some were akin to “informers” – people with close access to IRA members, or who passed on what they saw and heard to the security forces.
A few were innocent of the IRA’s charge of spying.
Still, the spectacle of one British agent heading an IRA unit dedicated to rooting out and shooting other British spies is so extraordinary that I’ve often wondered how exactly the state benefitted by the intelligence services having tolerated this for the whole of the 1980s.
The obvious person to ask is Scappaticci himself – but a draconian injunction stops journalists from approaching him, even to the point of making any enquiries about where he now lives or what he does.
The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Jon Boutcher (left), is leading the investigation with the delegated authority of the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
Scappaticci was recruited by a section within military intelligence called the Force Research Unit, or FRU.
I’m told the Army have assessed his intelligence as having saved some 180 lives.
Can Scappaticci’s intelligence have been so valuable that the sacrifice of other agents was a price worth paying to maintain his cover?
It’s not quite that simple.
Had the cavalry been sent in every time Scappaticci tipped off his handlers about who was at risk, he himself wouldn’t have lasted long.
Yet protecting him also meant the murders he knew about – or was even involved in – were never properly investigated, driving a “coach and horses” through the criminal justice system, according to Mr McGrory.
Barra McGrory said the report made for “disturbing and chilling reading”
Also, the Army’s assessment that Stakeknife saved 180 lives doesn’t translate to the number of actual lives saved as a direct consequence of actioning Stakeknife’s intelligence by, for example, interdicting an IRA unit on active service.
I understand that figure of 180 is partly the army’s guesstimate of lives that would have been lost had Stakeknife’s intelligence not led to arrests and the recovery of weapons.
Of course Stakeknife also contributed significantly to “building a picture” of the IRA, an insight much valued by the intelligence services.
An ex-FRU operative with access to his intelligence told me: “He knew all of the main players and picked up a tremendous amount of peripheral information.
“As the [IRA] campaign changed and the political side became more important again he was highly placed to comment on that.”
‘Cunning and resilience’
No doubt, but it’s hard to quantify “picture building” in terms of actual lives saved.
One thing is for sure: leading a double life at the heart of an IRA unit with a Gestapo-like hold over its rank and file would have required cunning – and resilience.
Especially since Scappaticci told his army handlers he disliked gratuitous violence.
He seems to have managed the violence bit though, even when it was close to home.
I’m told that in January 1988, Scappaticci sent a young boy up to the home of Anthony McKiernan, asking him to call by to see Scappaticci.
The Scappaticcis and McKiernans were friends – children from both families had sleepovers.
That was the last McKiernan’s wife and children saw of him. Accused by Scappaticci’s Nutting Squad of being a spy – something the family strongly deny – some 24 hours later, he was shot in the head.
Unsurprisingly, Scappaticci’s ex-IRA comrades paint a less flattering picture than his handlers.
They say he was a prodigious consumer of pornography, loved James Bond movies and – although he was on the IRA’s Belfast Brigade staff – was never a “true republican.”
That might explain why, after Scappaticci was released from detention without trial in December 1975, he drifted away from the republican movement and got involved in a building trade VAT scam.
There were family holidays in Florida.
But then he was arrested by the police and agreed to work for the fraud squad as an informer.
His former IRA comrades also speak of a man with an intimidating manner, handy with his fists and a large ego who liked to be at the centre of things.
His appointment to the IRA’s Nutting Squad – a job most IRA members ran a mile from – certainly gave him that opportunity.
It provided Scappaticci with unrivalled access to what the IRA high command were thinking and their war plans.
Mr Scappaticci left Northern Ireland when identified by the media as Stakeknife, in 2003
It also gave him access to the names of new IRA recruits on the pretext of vetting them, plus details of IRA operations on the pretext of debriefing IRA members released from police custody to establish whether they gave away too much to their interrogators.
That explains why military intelligence was so eager to recruit Scappaticci when, in September 1979, he graduated to the FRU from spying for the fraud squad.
He got an agent number – 6126 – and a codename. Stakeknife.
His luck ran out in January 1990 after police agent Sandy Lynch was rescued from the clutches of the nutting squad.
The police thought Lynch was about to be shot, Scappaticci having got him to confess. The ordinary CID who did not know Scappaticci was a spy found a thumb print in the house where Lynch had been held.
Scappaticci fled to Dublin. However, a senior police officer who was in the know advised the FRU to get Scappaticci to concoct an alibi for his thumbprint.
It worked. On his return to Belfast in the autumn of 1992, Scappaticci was arrested and then released without charge.
His handlers hoped he could return to spying. But by now the IRA were suspicious and removed him from the security unit.
With Scappaticci’s access to IRA secrets gone, the FRU formally stood him down as an agent in 1995.
How did he escape the same treatment at the hands of the IRA that he had helped mete out to others?
Probably because the sight of his body dumped on a roadside would have provoked a slew of questions about those IRA leaders who appointed him to protect the IRA from spies like him – and who also ignored warnings from their more sceptical comrades along the border that “Scap” was not to be trusted.
That did not stop the IRA in Belfast from putting Scap in his place.
After being sidelined, he agreed to help the staunchly republican Braniff family clear the name of a brother, Anthony, who was shot as a spy in 1981. He was eventually exonerated by the IRA.
But when Scappaticci spoke up for Anthony at a private meeting of republicans, to his embarrassment, the IRA’s most senior man in Belfast, Sean “Spike” Murray suddenly appeared and slapped him down.
When Scap was eventually outed as Stakeknife by a former FRU operative in 2003, he was spirited to England where MI5 told him the IRA knew he had been a spy.
He rejected MI5’s offer of protective custody, flew straight back to Belfast and sought a meeting with the IRA.
He gambled on not being shot because he calculated the IRA now had every reason to support a denial that he was a spy – even though he knew they didn’t believe him.
His gamble was based on the fact that the IRA’s political wing Sinn Fein were now engaged in the peace process.
Scappaticci calculated that were the IRA to admit they’d long suspected he was a spy, it would undermine the official line that they’d fought the British to an honourable draw.
Any such admission would provoke the rank and file into questioning whether the IRA had been pushed into peace, paralysed by the penetration of agents like him.
His gamble paid off.
After meeting two of the most senior representatives of the IRA leadership, Martin “Duckster” Lynch and Padraic Wilson, I’m told Scappaticci and the IRA came to an understanding: Scappaticci would issue a firm denial which the IRA would not contest.
To this day, that’s been the IRA’s official position – even though, as they say in Belfast, the dogs in the street know it’s nonsense.
Once again, Agent 6126 had relied on his wits and native cunning.
Whether the 71-year-old Scappaticci now outwits the 50 detectives trawling over everything he did, what his handlers allowed him to do, and what the IRA leaders authorised him to do, is another question.
You might say he’s the spy who knows too much – because he knows the answers to all these questions.
By John Ware
Reporter, BBC Panorama
11 April 2017
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