Archives For C.J.Chivers

CJ Chivers of the New York Times and to a very limited extent Human Rights Watch (HRW) are now seriously engaging with the Human Rights Investigations probe into the cluster bombing of Misrata.

The first indication from HRW (after weeks of trying to elicit a direct response) was a tweet from the Mary Wareham:

In fact, the case against Gaddafi’s forces is not proven.

The Spanish government should release details of all licenses ever issued and actual exports for cluster bombs and munitions and the machinery to make them.

The export of cluster munitions and bombs is now illegal in Spain (although not incorporated into domestic legisalation) – the Spanish government should release details of all such exports in the past to prevent their use in the future.

HRI has been pressing for this and urges HRW to do likewise.

CJ Chiver’s follow-up article in the New York Times today provides a lot of color to his story and some interesting material but, on the face of it, little in the way of additional evidence as to who actually fired the munitions.

It is certainly the case that, under fire from loyalist forces, an assumption that these forces were responsible for the firing of the MAT-120 is a natural reaction, but he has yet to offer any proof – hopefully his next installment contains something substantial.

It is good that CJ Chivers has released new imagery of the MAT-120 including a sideview photo of the MAT-120, which may be useful to the investigation and to ascertain which weapons system was used and urge him and photographer Bryan Denton to release copies of ALL the photographs (preferably high resolution) they have taken in Misrata so that everyone can get a better view of the full panoply of munitions used by all sides in the battle.

22 June Update

Another update from the New York Times.

The article states that various Spanish officials are claiming that exports of the MAT-120 have been made to Libya.

According to the article, Ramon Muro Martinez, the Deputy Director General for Foreign Trade of Defense Materials and Dual Use Goods wrote to Mr Chivers saying:

One license to Lybia consisting of 5 cluster munitions for demonstration was issued in August 2006. The export took place in October 2006. There were two more licenses issued in December 2007 with a total amount of 1,050 cluster munitions. They were sent in March 2008.

According to the article:

In a follow-up e-mail on the same day, Mr. Martinez confirmed, to be absolutely clear, that the cluster munitions we were discussing were the MAT-120 rounds manufactured by Instalaza SA.

In addition CJ Chivers says that:

the ministry confirmed that the government of Libya had submitted an end-user certificate, or EUC, for MAT-120 rounds to the government of Spain

and that an email

from another ministry official, Ana Terreros Gomez, said that the “EUC issued by the Libya authorites was authenticated by the Spanish Embassy in Tripoli November 28th 2007.”

The Spanish government needs to produce a credible account of these matters, of course, and come clean on its whole record. They also need to actually provide some real evidence, not just on the MAT-120 but on the other cluster munitions which have gone AWOL as well.

Another update from the New York Times today (23 June)

A lot about HRI. Less of relevance to the investigation, unfortunately.

For the record:

1. HRI is entirely unconvinced about the Spanish officials claims in this matter and is still awaiting documentation requested weeks ago

2. HRI has shown the evidence presented by CJ Chivers regarding the MAT-120 and short stub case is mistaken.

3. Yes, HRI does frequently change its mind on the basis of the evidence received and analysis of it. That kind of happens in investigations.

4. We thank those who have provided useful information and evidence relevant to the Misrata and Spanish cluster bomb investigations and would urge those yet to reply to do so.

Update 19 July CJ Chivers is now back in Libya and producing some important work

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The US Navy forces involved in the operation to seize Misrata come under the spotlight as part of the ongoing HRI investigation into the cluster bombing of Misrata.

The main ships involved from the United States Navy – ie “supporting Operation Unified Protector, off the coast of Libya” on the 14th and 15th April are attached to the Kearsarge Amphibious Group – Kearsarge (LHD-3) itself was in port in Augusta Bay, Sicily during the nights on which Misrata was cluster bombed.

The first ship is the USS Barry (DG-52) which is a destroyer and probably the destroyer spotted by CJ Chivers off the coast of Misrata.

Here is USS Barry earlier in the Libyan operation firing Tomahawk missiles into Libya:

Interestingly, the commanding Officer of USS Barry used to be Admiral James G Stavridis, the Admiral who is particularly keen on information wars and controlling the internet.
USS Barry participated in an exercise (FLEETEX 2-94) which involved covert SEAL team extraction in shallow water off the Carolina coast. USS Barry is based at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, also the base of Eva H. Thompson – the commander of Special Warfare Unit Four, who we have quoted before, praising the usefulness of the Combat Boat 90 and AMOS system.

The second ship of interest is the USS Ponce (LPD-15), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock. An amphibious transport dock is a warship that embarks, transports and lands elements of a landing force for expeditionary warfare missions. This ship had something of the order of 851 enlisted servicemen and 72 officers on board.

Interestingly shortly after the Misrata operation, both the skipper and executive officer of USS Ponce, Commander Etta Jones and Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Boenisch, were relieved of their commands.

The third ship, of interest, is the USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) which is a dock landing ship and travelled through the Suez canal to join the others on April 13th, the day before the cluster bombing of Misrata. A dock landing ship is a form of amphibious warship designed to support amphibious operations. These amphibious assault ships transport and launch amphibious craft and vehicles with their crews and embarked personnel. usually these forces would be marines and/or special forces.

Embarked on these ships were certain units, including the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (26MEU) and Naval Beach Group Two (NBG2), TACRON 21, Four and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO TWO (HSC-22). The commander of the task force was Captain Dan Shaffer – who doubled up as Commander Task Force 65 (CTF-65) and Commander Destroyer Squadron 60 (DESRON60). He is under the command of Admiral Stavridis.

We are currently investigating the cluster bombing of Misurata on the 14th April 2011. The sources for the original story are Human Rights Watch and the New York Times. The specific individuals to make the initial allegations were Fred Abrahams, a special advisor for Human Rights Watch and C.J. Chivers of the New York Times.

The story has subsequently been repeated as a true version of events by all the major news agencies, newspaper and television stations around the world.

The culprits identified are the Gaddhafi regime the Spanish government and the manufacturer of the MAT-120 munition, Instalaza. The accepted theory is that Instalaza exported the munitions to Libya in 2008 and it was Gaddhafi’s forces, using mortars, who fired the munitions into residential areas. Only Ghaddafi’s regime has challenged this interpretation of events.

This narrative is essentially unchallenged in the media and human rights community and will form the basis for an escalation of the violence in Libya over the coming days.

We have compelling evidence that the conventional narrative should be challenged and will be releasing the preliminary investigation shortly.

We ask our esteemed readers to provide any material relevant to our investigation.