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OPCW report on Douma chemical attack points to false flag operation (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 94.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) final report on the alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria last year, which points to a jihadist false flag.

The report manages, however, to provide the necessary cover for the Trump White House, UK, and France to avoid an embarrassing apology for launching an attack on the Syrian government based on yet another White Helmets/jihadist hoax.

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Via 21st Century Wire


The OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) has presented its final report regarding an alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria on April 7, 2018. Despite attempts by the Western media to hail it as “proof” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Douma – the report says nothing of the sort.

In fact, the report fails to link any of the alleged 43 deaths to apparent chlorine found at the scene of the alleged attack.

Claims of the attack were made by US-backed militants on the eve of their defeat – with the Syrian military retaking Douma the following day. Initial reports claimed sarin or chlorine chemical weapons were deployed through the use of two yellow gas canisters modified as bombs.

No sarin of any kind was found by OPCW inspectors.

While the report suggests two modified yellow gas canisters were used in the attack and that they appeared to have been dropped onto two buildings (locations 2 and 4), the report also mentions that OPCW inspectors found a nearly identical canister in a workshop used by militants to construct weapons.

The alleged “chemical weapons” attack prompted the United States, UK, and France to launch missiles strikes against Syrian military targets on April 14, 2018, long before the first OPCW inspectors even arrived at the sites of the alleged attack on April 21.

No Link Between Chlorine and Casualties

The OPCW report would note video and photographic evidence of alleged victims of chemical exposure could not be linked to any specific chemical including traces of chlorine OPCW inspectors found. The report would specifically claim (emphasis added):

Many of the signs and symptoms reported by the medical personnel, witnesses and casualties (as well as those seen in multiple videos provided by witnesses), their rapid onset, and the large number of those reportedly affected, indicate exposure to an inhalational irritant or toxic substance. However, based on the information reviewed and with the absence of biomedical samples from the dead bodies or any autopsy records, it is not currently possible to precisely link the cause of the signs and symptoms to a specific chemical.

In other instances, the OPCW report would cite witnesses – including medical staff who allegedly treated victims of the supposed attack – who expressed doubts of the presence of any chemicals at all.

The report would state (emphasis added):

A number of the interviewed medical staff who were purportedly present in the emergency department on 7 April emphasised that the presentation of the casualties was not consistent with that expected from a chemical attack. They also reported not having experience in the treatment of casualties of chemical weapons. Some interviewees stated that no odour emanated from the patients, while other witnesses declared that they perceived a smell of smoke on the patients’ clothes. 

Other accounts reviewed by the OPCW suggest a large number of casualties were owed to smoke and dust inhalation from conventional bombardment.

The report would specifically state (emphasis added):

Some witnesses stated that many people died in the hospital on 7 April as result of the heavy shelling and/or suffocation due to inhalation of smoke and dust. As many as 50 bodies were lying on the floor of the emergency department awaiting burial. Others stated that there were no fatalities in Douma Hospital on 7 April and that no bodies were brought to the hospital that day.

The conflicting witness reports, the lack of any evidence linking chlorine to even a single death on April 7, and other inconsistencies and contradictions make it impossible to use the report’s conclusions as “proof” that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical attack on the eve of its victory in Douma.

Similar Canisters Found in Militant Workshop

While the Western media has focused on the report’s conclusion that chlorine was present and possibly emanated from the two canisters that appear to have been dropped onto two buildings in the area, another crucial finding has been predictably glossed over.

A militant-run weapons workshop investigated by OPCW inspectors revealed a large number of resources for working with chemicals to make explosives. Among an array of chemicals and equipment associated with making explosives, a yellow gas canister was found.

The report would admit:

Although the team confirmed the presence of a yellow cylinder in the warehouse, reported in Note Verbale of the Syrian Arab Republic (Annex 10, point 2) as a chlorine cylinder, due to safety reasons (risk involved in manipulating the valve of the cylinder, see Figure A.8.2) it was not feasible to verify or sample the contents. There were differences in this cylinder compared to those witnessed at Locations 2 and 4. It should be noted that the cylinder was present in its original state and had not been altered.

The lack of interest by the OPCW in the canister despite the obvious implications of its presence in a weapons workshop controlled by militants calls into question the inspectors’ diligence and agenda.

The canister’s “differences” are owed to the fact that those at locations 2 and 4 were modified to appear as bombs, while – admittedly – the canister in the militant workshop remained unaltered.

The obvious implications of a nearly identical canister turning up in a militant workshop making weapons is that the militants may likely have also made the two converted canisters found at locations 2 and 4. OPCW inspectors found other improvised ordnance in the workshop including, “a number of 20-litre metallic drums, some fitted with crude cord-type fuses, which appeared to have been filled with plastic explosives to serve as improvised explosive devices.”

Western media organizations have tried to dismiss the presence of the canister at the workshop by suggesting it was a “setup” orchestrated by the Syrian Arab Army. Huffington Post UK senior editor Chris York would go as far as referring to the workshop as:

…the rebel explosives lab that had been captured by the SAA days before and which they were desperately trying to make look like a chemical weapons lab.

In reality, the OPCW itself would suggest nothing of the sort, and noted that all of the equipment present was consistent with a weapons workshop. Nowhere does the OPCW suggest anything was altered – including the canister – which the OPCW specifically noted “had not been altered.”

The presence of a canister nearly identical to those found at locations 2 and 4 in a militant weapons workshop provides at least as much evidence that militants staged the supposed chemical attack as the Western media claims the canisters at locations 2 and 4 suggest it was the Syrian government.

In the absence of definitive evidence regarding who created and deployed the canisters found at locations 2 and 4, or how they truly ended up there, a better question to ask is “why” they would have ended up there.

Chemical Weapon Attack in Douma… Cui Bono? 

Why would the Syrian government – in the middle of a major military offensive it was on the literal eve of concluding in complete victory, drop only 2 canisters filled with a limited amount chemicals to kill – at most – 43 people? A simple artillery barrage could kill just as many people – or very likely – many more.

The use of chemical weapons even on a large scale have historically proven less effective than conventional military weapons – and the use of chlorine on such a small scale as claimed in Douma serves no conceivable purpose at all – at least not for the Syrian military.

Despite claims otherwise, the Syrian government has derived no benefit whatsoever had it been behind any of the chemical attacks it has been accused of by militants and their Western sponsors over the course of the Syrian conflict.

The Douma attack – were it the Syrian military – would have served no tactical, strategic, or political purpose. Conversely, it would serve as one of the very few actions the Syrian government could take to jeopardize its victory by justifying a large scale Western-led military attack on Syrian forces.

In fact, just one week after the alleged attack, the US, UK, and France would indeed launch as many as 100 missiles into Syria in retaliation, the Guardian would report.

On the other hand, militants who had been occupying Douma had every reason to stage the attack.

By staging the attack on the eve of their defeat and producing graphic scenes of human suffering – particularly among children – the militants would have a propaganda tool readily able to invoke global public concern, sympathy, and outcry in defense of their cause – a propaganda tool their Western sponsors eagerly amplified through their global-spanning media platforms.

With the United States having previously launched entire wars based on false accusations of merely possessing chemical weapons, the militants correctly assumed the US would use the staged attack as a pretext  for further direct military aggression against the Syrian state – possibly saving them.

The US still to this day cites “chemical weapons” and the Douma incident on April 7, 2018 specifically – as part of its pretext to maintain its illegal occupation of Syrian territory and its continued support of militants attempting to overthrow the Syrian government.

The alleged use of “chemical weapons” by the Syrian government also regularly serves as a primary talking point used by the Western media when attacking anti-war politicians, pundits, and commentators.

The OPCW report’s conclusions are too ambiguous to draw a conclusion one way or the other. The presence of a nearly identical canister in a militant workshop raises serious questions and associated implications suggesting the attack was staged – questions that must be adequately investigated and answered.

That the Syrian government gained nothing from the attack and was only further jeopardized politically and strategically by it – raises questions about motivations that likewise need to be answered before drawing conclusions.

But as the Western media has proven many times before – it is fully capable of producing entirely irrational lies based on tenuous evidence or no evidence at all – and even repeating those lies after being blatantly caught telling them previously.

That the Western media is still attempting to sell WMD lies regarding Syria after being caught fabricating them to justify war in neighboring Iraq should be at the forefront of the global public’s mind when considering their “interpretations” of this latest OPCW report regarding Douma, Syria.

***
21WIRE contributor Tony Cartalucci is an independent writer, researcher and global affairs analyst, and editor and founder of the blog site Land Destroyer. A previous version of this article was published at New Eastern Outlook.

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Why aren’t you guys inviting Mark Sleboda to the live YouTube sessions anymore? Trouble in paradise?

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In my mind, Mark Sleboda became a little full of him self lately.
Was he drunk or high?
Good move to let him rest a little maybe?
Bad TV for RT and Theduran to have him on.

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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