Criminal Justice 101: Means, Motive, and Opportunity
The "Iraq has WMDs" level of hysteria being whipped up about the Skripal poisonings by the Empire's propagandists is bad news. Ignoring it will not work; but "proving a negative" is the classical dilemma created by a false flag attack. Nevertheless, there must be constant pushback against constant propaganda.
I offer the following conversational gambit for dealing with the Kool Aid Drinkers you may encounter: means, motive, and opportunity.
In U.S. criminal law, means, motive, and opportunity is a common summation of the three aspects of a crime that must be established before guilt can possibly be determined in a criminal proceeding. Respectively, they refer to: the ability of the defendant to commit the crime (means), the reason the defendant committed the crime (motive), and whether the defendant had the chance to commit the crime (opportunity).
1. No sample of "nerve agent" has been produced. The fact that neither victim has died, nor have any passersby or responders died, despite this being the "most virulent" agent ever invented, calls into question the characterization of whatever caused the incident.
2. There is doubt among chemical weapons professionals as to whether Novichok really exists.
As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown.
In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the ‘Foliant’ programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published. (Black, 2016)
Robin Black. (2016) Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents. Royal Society of Chemistry
3. Even if the agent were shown to be Novichok, that formula has been in the public domain since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was a US company that closed the facility in Uzbekistan that supposedly produced the toxin. A loudmouth, disgruntled former Soviet scientist published the formula and the synthesis in a book freely published in 2008.
"Only the Russians" developed this class of nerve agents, said the chemist. "They kept it and are still keeping it in secrecy."
The only other possibility, he said, would be that someone used the formulas in his book to make such a weapon.
"Russia did it", says Mirzanyanov, "OR SOMEONE WHO READ MY BOOK"
Bottom Line: A college chemistry major has the knowledge to make this stuff. "Determining" that it is of Russian origin is like determining a hit-and-run driver is German because the car was a BMW.
4. The British biological warfare establishment, Porton Down, is less than 10 miles from Salisbury. They certainly have as much "means" as Russia.
1. Russia has negative motive to undertake this kind of high-profile activity. The end result of such activity is to call down more sanctions, more military brinksmanship, more diplomatic attacks on Russia. There is zero upside for Russia to do this.
2. There is plenty of motive for The Empire to do this. It forwards their drive to conditioning the public to accept war on Russia as necessary.
3. The victim, Skripal, is a confessed double agent. Given his crimes, he received a lenient sentence of 17 years in Russian prisons, and then he was released, eight years ago. If the Russians wanted to kill him, they could have done it when he was in jail. What on earth is the motivation for killing him now?
4. However, it is widely reported that Skripal worked with the infamous Christopher Steele, both at MI-6 and at a private intelligence firm. If Skripal provided information for Steele's bogus report, and he was wavering, then killing him would tidy up a loose end for Mr. Steele and the people who paid for his garbage to be produced.
5. The government of Theresa May is a trainwreck. She only stays in office because no one else in the paralyzed Conservative Party can put together a majority to get rid of her. Being able to pretend she is Margaret Thatcher the Second is a godsend for her desperately incompetent stewardship of the British nation.
1. If you want someone dead, there are literally thousands of ways to arrange for it to happen in a "deniable" manner. They can have a "heart attack". They can have a car accident. They can be mugged. They can fall down a flight of stairs. For a supposedly professional and deadly nation-state spy organization to attempt (and fail) to kill a man in this public manner is simply beyond belief.
Perhaps it is asking to much for people to digest 10 facts. Maybe we just need to keep it simple:
This is Iraq WMDs all over again. This is Syrian chemical warfare all over again. How many times are we going to let the bio/chemical warfare boogeyman LIE stampede us into attacking yet another victim?