OPCW leaks expose ‘criminal’ Syria cover-up — and US media is silent

The US media continues to ignore one of 2019’s top scandals: a cover-up inside the OPCW, the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog, that was used to justify US-led military strikes on Syria. Award-winning MIT professor Theodore Postol joins Pushback.

The leaked documents and testimony from inside the OPCW show there were major doubts about the allegations the Syrian government committed a chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April 2018. Inspectors who were on the ground in Douma complained that their findings were distorted and excluded. According to one OPCW whistleblower, this censorship was conducted under direct US pressure.

“I hold the press accountable for not doing what they should to help protect these [whistleblowers],” says Theodore Postol, award-winning professor of Science, Technology and National Security policy at MIT. “I think it’s criminal, as far as I’m concerned.”

One of the biggest stories of 2019 was undoubtedly the OPCW’s Syria scandal – a cover-up inside the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog that was used to justify US-led military strikes on Syria.

Leaked documents and testimony show there were major doubts inside the OPCW about the allegations the Syrian government committed a chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April 2018. Inspectors who were on the ground in Douma complained that their findings were distorted and excluded.  According to one OPCW whistleblower, who spoke to the British journalist Jonathan Steele, this censorship was conducted under direct US pressure.

According to a new batch of documents, released by Wikileaks, a top OPCW official ordered the removal of a critical document from the organization’s secure registry. The document was a detailed engineering study that cast major doubt on the allegation that the Syrian government dropped gas cylinders on Douma.

Another leaked document shows the OPCW consulted with toxicologists to determine whether symptoms observed in victims were consistent with exposure to chlorine. According to minutes of that meeting, “the experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure.”  But these key findings, and many others, were kept from the public when the OPCW released its final report. Ignoring its own data and experts, the OPCW concluded that there were “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place…This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine.” 

But even now as the suppressed findings come out via brave whistleblowers and Wikileaks, they are still being kept from the public. That is because the Western media – including top progressive, adversarial outlets — have ignored or whitewashed the story. And that media self-censorship has become a scandal in itself.

Guest: Theodore Postol, award-winning professor of Science, Technology and National Security policy at MIT.