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Hospitalized children & dead ducks? The ‘official’ Skripal narrative goes completely quackers

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Hospitalized children & dead ducks? The ‘official’ Skripal narrative goes completely quackers
Images of hospitalized kids and dead ducks, allegedly supplied by the UK, were used by the CIA to persuade Trump to get tough on Russia after the attack on the Skripals. But there were no harmed children or ducks. What’s going on?

Just when you thought the Skripal case couldn’t get any more Pythonesque, it just did. According to a report published this week in the New York Times, the then-deputy director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, showed President Donald Trump pictures of “young children hospitalised by the Novichok agent that had poisoned the Skripals” along with “a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives.”

The ‘emotional appeal’ from Haspel, made last March, was successful as Trump “fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks” and embraced the CIA’s “strong option” of expelling 60 Russian diplomats.  

Also on rt.com CIA showed Trump photos of sick kids & dead ducks so he would expel Russian diplomats – NYT

You can imagine the conversation, as scripted by Cleese, Chapman and Clark…

Haspel: ‘Look Mr President. I know a dead duck when I see one, and I’m looking at it right now’

Trump: ‘No, he’s not dead, he’s, he’s resting… Beautiful plumage!’

Haspel: ‘The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead. And its name was Donald!’

Trump: ‘Oh my God, let’s kick out the Russkie duck killers!’

The story – entertaining as it is – raises a number of serious questions.  

So, let’s get our pipes from the rack above the fire, put on our deerstalkers and remember Sherlock Holmes’ famous dictum: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

When you think about it there are four possible explanations for the New York Times story.

Number one is that children were hospitalized and ducks were killed, and it was all covered up from the public by the intelligence services. But this makes no sense at all, as the British authorities – with anti-Russian neocons very close to the action – were desperate to demonize Russia and would surely not have hushed up such terrible things had they actually happened.

Moreover, how possible would it have been to keep it all under wraps? Surely, the parents of the children hospitalised would have spoken up? Surely, some members of the public would have taken pictures with their smartphones of dead ducks floating on the water?

And if the Novichok fall-out was that widespread, why wasn’t the whole of Salisbury sealed off?

Then we’ve got the testimony of Dr Stephen Davies, consultant in emergency medicine at the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust. Writing in response to a report published in The Times (London) which claimed “Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment,” Dr Davies stated:

May I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed a treatment… No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.”

One presumes that the “three patients with significant poisoning” the good doctor was referring to were Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and DS Nick Bailey, none of whom, by any stretch of the imagination, could be described as ‘children.’

It’s also the first time that anyone has mentioned ducks being killed following the peculiar incident. Wouldn’t UK newspapers have been full of dead ducks pictures had local bird life in Salisbury been affected by the events of March 4, 2018? You can just imagine the ‘Evil Putin kills Arthur Mallard’ headline in the Sun, can’t you?

So, accepting there were no ‘hospitalized children’ or ‘dead ducks’ (and this was also confirmed this week by the director of public health at Wiltshire Council),what conclusions can we draw?

The second explanation is that the British authorities, in their desperation to get Trump to take “strong action”, provided fake photographs to the CIA. The photographs were of hospitalized children and dead ducks from somewhere else, not Salisbury. With the children they could have spun people being taken into hospital for precautionary checks as being ‘hospitalized.’

That would go along with plenty of other reports that the UK worried that the maverick Trump wouldn’t be as anti-Russian as it has been. Think back to early 2017 and reports of how terrified the British neocon faction was that the soon-to-be inaugurated US President would seek a rapprochement with Vladimir Putin. Think too of the ‘Golden Showers’ dossier, written by a former British Intelligence officer, and the similarities to the Zinoviev Letter of 1924.

Yes, the notion that Britain faked photos is credible, given the geopolitical context, but according to Deborah Haynes, foreign affairs editor at Sky News and the former defence editor of the Times, UK security sources have said they were unaware of children hospitalised or of wildlife killed in the Skripal attack. “If that's true, I wonder what these images used by the CIA were!” Deborah asks.  

Are the ‘UK security sources’ engaging in damage limitation, following the NYT report?  Are they worried that if it does come out that they sent fake photos over to the US, people will ask ‘what else was faked?’ about the Skripal story?

Perhaps, as a third explanation, the photographs were faked not by MI6, but by the CIA. We know the US ‘Deep State’, like the UK ‘Deep State,’ was very concerned that Trump wouldn’t ‘play the game’ in relation to pursuing Cold War 2.0 with Russia.

Trump would need something ‘extra’ to kick out 60 Russian diplomats, and fake pictures of hospitalized children and dead ducks would probably do it.

But if it was the CIA, what was to stop Trump getting on the phone to London to check the information was correct?

Hi there, Theresa. I’m being told that kiddies were hospitalized in Salisbury and that Donald Duck was Novichoked too. Is it true?’ What would Theresa May have said to that?

A fourth explanation is that the New York Times were sold a pup by their ‘sources.’ That Gina Haspel didn’t show the president the pictures and the whole thing never happened. Trump didn’t need any extra encouragement to ‘get tough’ on Russia – he did it anyway. The aim of the story is simply to portray Trump as someone initially soft on Putin – in line with the decidedly dodgy ‘Russiagate’ narrative.

Whichever explanation we favor from two to four (and it is of course possible that both the UK and US security services collaborated with regards to the photographs), it’s clear that the official UK government narrative on the Skripal affair continues to unravel before our very eyes.

There are so many unanswered questions, but arguably the most important one is this: why haven’t we seen or heard anything from Yulia and Sergei Skripal?

Yulia’s last video appearance was last May. Her father hasn’t been shown since his hospitalization, which we are told he recovered from.

If Yulia and Sergei accepted the UK government narrative, namely that the Russia state was behind their poisoning, then why haven’t they been brought out before the cameras, at a secret location, to say as much? Think what a great propaganda coup this would be.  

Interestingly, a book published last year by Mark Urban, a BBC diplomatic editor, concedes that Sergei Skripal was initially reluctant to believe that the Russians had tried to kill him.

READ MORE: Kept in the dark: ‘Novichok’ poisoning survivor tells Russian ambassador he got NO info from UK govt

Even more puzzling is the fact that Sergei has not called his 91-year-old mother Yelena. If he is indeed being looked after by British security services, in order to protect him from another assassination attempt, then why hasn’t he been allowed to call home to say he’s ok?  A simple ‘Hi Mum, don’t worry about me, I’m being looked after and I’m fine’ would suffice.

She is waiting for his phone call. She needs nothing else. She needs one phone call from her son,” Skripal’s niece Viktoria said last September. The fact that he still hasn’t called home, suggests that Sergei Skripal is either dead, or unable to talk. If the latter, why haven’t we been told that he’s lost his voice? If the former, then how did he die?

Up to now, establishment gatekeepers have been using ridicule against those questioning the party line. Craig Murray, for one, has had a terrible time. But there are so many inconsistencies in the official version of events, no genuinely inquisitive journalist can really ignore them. After this week’s developments, you really would be ‘quackers’ not to question more.    

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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