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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/23/16

Will NYT Retract Latest Anti-Russian "Fraud"?

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"One of the pictures that they ran though Tungstene was the same cloud picture that they used with ELA [error level analysis]. And unsurprisingly, it generated similar results -- results that should be interpreted as low quality and multiple resaves. " These results denote a low quality picture and multiple resaves, and not an intentional alteration as Bellingcat concluded.

"Just like last year, Bellingcat claimed that Tungstene highlighted indications of alterations in the same places that they claimed to see alterations in the ELA result. Bellingcat used the same low quality data on different tools and jumped to the same incorrect conclusion."

Although Krawetz posted his dissection of the new analysis on Thursday, he began expressing his concerns shortly after the Times article appeared. That prompted Higgins and the Bellingcat crew to begin a Twitter campaign to discredit Krawetz and me (for also citing problems with the Times article and the analysis).

When one of Higgins's allies mentioned my initial story on the problematic photo analysis, Krawetz noted that my observations supported his position that Bellingcat had mishandled the analysis (although at the time I was unaware of Krawetz's criticism).

Higgins responded to Krawetz, "he [Parry] doesn't recognize you're a hack. Probably because he's a hack too."

Further insulting Krawetz, Higgins mocked his review of the photo analyses by writing: "all he has is 'because I say so', all mouth no trousers."

Spoiled by Praise

Apparently, Higgins, who operates out of Leicester, England, has grown spoiled by all the praise lavished on him by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and other mainstream publications, despite the fact that Bellingcat's record for accuracy is a poor one.

For instance, in his first big splash, Higgins echoed U.S. propaganda in Syria about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack -- blaming it on President Bashar al-Assad -- but was forced to back down from his assessment when aeronautical experts revealed that the sarin-carrying missile had a range of only about two kilometers, much shorter than Higgins had surmised in blaming the attack on Syrian government forces. (Despite that key error, Higgins continued claiming the Syrian government was guilty.)

Higgins also gave the Australian "60 Minutes" program a location in eastern Ukraine where a "getaway" Buk missile battery was supposedly videoed en route back to Russia, except that when the news crew got there the landmarks didn't match up, causing the program to have to rely on sleight-of-hand editing to deceive its viewers.

When I noted the discrepancies and posted screenshots from the "60 Minutes" program to demonstrate the falsehoods, "60 Minutes" launched a campaign of insults against me and resorted to more video tricks and outright journalistic fraud in defense of Higgins's faulty information.

This pattern of false claims and even fraud to promote these stories has not stopped the mainstream Western press from showering Higgins and Bellingcat with acclaim. It probably doesn't hurt that Bellingcat's "disclosures" always dovetail with the propaganda themes emanating from Western governments.

It also turns out that both Higgins and "armscontrolwonk.com" have crossover in personnel, such as Melissa Hanham, a co-author of the MH-17 report who also writes for Bellingcat, as does Aaron Stein, who joined in promoting Higgins's work at "armscontrolwonk.com."

The two groups also have links to the pro-NATO think tank, Atlantic Council, which has been at the forefront of pushing NATO's new Cold War with Russia. Higgins is now listed as a "nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Future Europe Initiative" and armscontrolwonk.com describes Stein as a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Armscontrolwonk.com is run by nuclear proliferation specialists from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey, but they appear to have no special expertise in photographic forensics.

A Deeper Problem

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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