Are Russia and Syria really to blame for recent chemical and biological attacks, or could they be being framed? Senior figures from the military and intelligence community warn us to beware "false flags".
Justified military action or was there dirty tricks? Should we believe what they tell us? Or beware false flags?
Hi, I'm Leon Hawthorne. Did Assad use chemical weapons on his own people? Did Russia deploy nerve agent in Britain? Or are these examples of false flags?
A false flag operation is an attempt to frame a country for a crime... used in the world of espionage and covert operations, normally when one side seeks to damage the reputation of another for its own political ends.
Last week's US-led missile strike on Syria followed the west blaming Bashar al Assad for gassing his own people. But Russia says: either there was no gas attack; or it was carried out by western agents as a ruse to justify military intervention.
Even a Republican senator told CNN the US, UK and French explanation doesn't add up:
US Senator Rand Paul. 'The Situation Room with Wold Blitzer' - CNN. April 17th 2018 "Assad must be either the dumbest dictator on the planet or maybe he didn't do it. I have yet to see evidence that he did do it. The intelligence agencies claim they have that evidence, but think about it: does it make any sense? He's been winning the war."
It's true. It doesn't make any sense. The only way Assad can lose the war is if the west gets involved. So, why do something like this?
Now, I am loathe to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but people in the military and intelligence worlds know false flags happen all the time.
Admiral Lord West. Former First Sea Lord - BBC News. April 16th 2018. "We know that in the past some of the Islamist groups have used chemicals and, of course, there would be huge benefits in them labelling an attack as coming from Assad."
And that's the question to ask: who benefits? Local rebels? Israel? Saudi Arabia? These parties all win if relations with Russia or Syria worsen.
When a Russian traitor was attacked with nerve agent on the streets of Salisbury, all fingers pointed to Moscow... obviously.
That's my point. It's so obvious.
Could they not have given him a drug that induces a heart attack? Why use a biological agent, tantamount to leaving their fingerprints on the murder weapon?
Another example... US intelligence agencies blame Russia for hacking into the email server of the Democratic Party during the presidential campaign. But the man who is now US National Security Adviser told Fox News he disagreed:
John Bolton. US National Security Advisor - Fox News. Dec 11th 2016 "It's not at all clear to me, just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and RNC computers was not a false flag operation. Let's remember what FBI Director, James Comey said dealing with Hillary's home-brew server. He said: we found no direct evidence of foreign intelligence service penetration, but given the nature of this, we didn't expect to, meaning a really sophisticated foreign intelligence service wouldn't leave any cyber fingerprints."
Bolton went on to imply the Obama Administration itself could have ordered a hack to make it look like the Russians did it.
I know this sounds paranoid and fanciful, but he knows how these people think because they work for him.
Now, I acknowledge both Assad and Putin are perfectly capable of committing these crimes. They've done it before.
And it could all be a cunning double bluff, where the actions are so clumsy, precisely because they want it to look like they're being framed... so they get away with it.
I'm Leon Hawthorne. Thanks for watching.