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Thursday, 18 April 2019

Oops! NY Times Accidentally Unravels UK Government's Official Skripal Fairy Tale

Kit Klarenberg
Sputnik via sott.net


While London almost immediately blamed Moscow for being behind the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK city of Salisbury in March 2018, Russia has strongly rejected its involvement, stressing it's been denied access both to the investigation into the incident and the Russian nationals affected.

On 16th April, the New York Times published a glowing profile of Gina Haspel, who in May 2018 became the seventh director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The article referred to Haspel - the former head of a CIA 'black site' in Thailand at which an indeterminate number of suspected terrorists were viciously tortured - as an "adept tactician" blessed with "good listening, empathy and an ability to connect", and discussed the difficulties the intelligence chief faced in ensuring "her voice is heard at the White House", due to the intransigence of President Donald Trump and a White House that allegedly treats national security professionals "with deep skepticism".

So far, so obsequious - but buried in the hagiography is a fascinating disclosure. In a section titled 'The keys to talking to Trump? Realism and emotion', authors Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman document how Haspel "solidified her reputation" as one of the "most skilled briefers" of the President.

Following the 4th March 2018 poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK, top national security officials are said to have gathered inside the White House to discuss with Trump how Washington should respond - at the time, Whitehall was preparing to expel dozens of Russian diplomats from the UK, and aggressively pushing various key international allies to follow suit. 


Trump was said to have initially dismissed the significance of the poisoning, characterising it as "legitimate spy games, distasteful but within the bounds of espionage". However, Haspel lobbied the President to expel 60 Russian diplomats from the US - and persuaded Trump to take the "strong option" by showing him the Skripals "were not the only victims of Russia's attack".

"Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives. Ms. Haspel was not the first to use emotional images to appeal to the president, but pairing it with her hard-nosed realism proved effective: Mr. Trump fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks. At the end of the briefing, he embraced the strong option," the article states. 


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