Written by Kit Knightly; Originally appeared at Off Guardian
Despite leaking credibility like a sieve, chemical weapons watchdog doubles down on Douma narrative
The OPCW has released a briefing note summarising the recent “independent investigation” into their recent Titanic-sized leaks. (You can read the summary at the link above, or the full “independent” report here).
It’s a fairly narrow statement, focusing entirely on the two unnamed inspectors (Inspector A and Inspector B) who worked with the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media to leak the censored reports. (There is not a word about the e-mails later released by WikiLeaks).
You won’t be surprised to know that the report finds the two leakers, Ian Henderson and “Alex”, were wrong to leak the confidential information.
In that sense, it’s entirely self-contradictory. Attempting to tell us the information is at once “sensitive”, and also incomplete, incorrect and easily refuted.
Of course, none of that refutation is present here, because that wasn’t the remit of this report. This is just an investigation into the “Possible Breaches of Confidentiality” and not the veracity of the leaks, or the pertinence of the information therein.
Sometimes an incredibly narrow purview is a sound defence against an undesirable reality.
There’s really no new information here, just six pages of waffle telling us very little we didn’t already know. It’s not a report that really means anything at all. It’s just something that the OPCW literally had to say. Institutions have immune responses, they simply must attack their critics. It’s automatic.
If a CIA whistleblower were to announce the sky was blue, the CIA would release a memo claiming to have no official records concerning the visual appearance of our atmosphere and detailing the leaker’s history of alcohol abuse.
Attacking whistleblowers is just a reflex of self-defence, the most base instinct of every lifeform.
In its content and tone, this report is a clear example of that behaviour. Far more a smear and hit piece than a refutation or investigation (at one point it even straight-up lies about Ian Henderson’s career at the OPCW).
Essentially, it’s just a series of attacks on the competence and motivations of the whistleblowers, even to the point of attempting to deny them that status:
Inspectors A and B are not whistle-blowers.”
The head of OPCW bafflingly declares, before going on to explain:
They are individuals who could not accept that their views were not backed by evidence. When their views could not gain traction, they took matters into their own hands and breached their obligations to the Organisation. Their behaviour is even more egregious as they had manifestly incomplete information about the Douma investigation.”
See – they’re not “whistleblowers”, they’re just individuals who believed that some documents being kept secret should be made public, and “took matters into their own hands”.
Apparently, that’s different from being a whistleblower. Somehow.
As with so much else in the current political sphere, it’s not so much an argument as an exercise in semantics.
Just as Julian Assange’s arrest became a debate over whether or not he was “really a journalist”, and “antisemitism” is redefined to increasingly ludicrous vagueness, here we are confronted by a memo essentially saying “ignore these leaks, these people are not real whistleblowers”.
It’s really not a report designed to make a case or prove a point. It won’t convert anybody or change a single mind. It’s just there to be at the other end of a link. To supply gate-keeping “journalists” with soundbites to bounce back and forth across twitter and blockquote in their articles.
A final redoubt to provide mainstream attack-dogs like Chris York or Scott Lucas some cover as they make a hasty retreat.
In that sense, it’s already doing its job:
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 6, 2020
Damming putdown of the supposed OPCW whistleblowers championed by various British academics who claim Syria wasn’t behind Douma chemical attack. This comes from the OPCW itself: pic.twitter.com/EFsGrSzULz
— Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) February 6, 2020
A more obvious example of papering over the cracks, you will not see.