Moon of Alabama
September 2, 2008

Editor’s note: It should come as no surprise HRW would attempt to claim Russia used cluster bombs. HRW came into existence in 1978 as the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee, designed to monitor the former Soviet Union’s compliance with the Helsinki Accords. HRW is a foundation NGO, funded by the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation. HRW is partnered with the Human Rights Center of the University of California, an organization funded in part by the globalist John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, established by the owner of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, John D. MacArthur. HRW is also influenced by George Soros and the CFR. See Paul Treanor, Who is behind Human Rights Watch? “Although Human Rights Watch claims to act in the name of universal values, it is an organisation with a narrow social and geographical base. If HRW Council members were truly concerned about the welfare of Africans, Tibetans or eastern Europeans, then they would at least offer them an equal chance to influence the organisation. Instead, geographical location and the high cost restrict Council Membership to the US and British upper-middle-class.”

On August 15 Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Russian Federation of having used cluster bombs in the conflict with Georgia. These accusations were widely repeated in the ‘western’ media. The Russian Federation consistently denied any use of cluster ammunition. As it now turns out the repeated HRW accusations were wrong. The ‘evidence’ provided by HRW was based on pictures and misidentified ammunition in those.

The ammunition in question is of Israeli origin and was used by the Georgian military. The Georgian Ministry of Defense has now admitted as much. HRW now also acknowledges this in a new press statement. But it continues to claim Russian use of such weapons. It does so by pointing to its own older reports which clearly misidentified Georgian cluster ammunition as Russian made. HRW has still to show any proof for its continuing accusations against the Russian Federation.

While reviewing the story as documented below, notice the special role of HRW’s ‘senior military analyst’ Marc Garlasco in this propaganda effort.

An August 15 HRW press release claimed:

Human Rights Watch said Russian aircraft dropped RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 PTAB 2.5M submunitions, on the town of Ruisi in the Kareli district of Georgia on August 12, 2008. On the same day, a cluster strike in the center of the town of Gori killed at least eight civilians and injured dozens, Human Rights Watch said.

In that press release and on its website HRW provided this picture as evidence identifying the weapon debris shown as a Russian RBK-250 clusterbomb.


But a zoomed picture of the "bomb" shows that the fins of this object are cambered.

Cambered fins are typical for tube launched missiles. While in the tube the missile the fins are snugged around the missile body. When leaving the tube the spring loaded fins snap into their flight position but keep their original curved surface.

In contrast to that air dropped ‘dumb’ bombs like the RBK-250 shown here have straight fixed fins.

A Russian(?) blogger noticed as much yesterday.

Note also that the diameter of an RBK-250 is 325 mm. The debris picture shown by HRW and the object identified as RBK-250 only has roughly half that diameter. (BTW – how many different parts were assembled for that picture?)

The HRW expert quoted with the wrong identifications is one Marc Garlasco:

“Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers that most nations have agreed to outlaw,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Russia’s use of this weapon is not only deadly to civilians, but also an insult to international efforts to avoid a global humanitarian disaster of the kind caused by landmines.”

One wonders how HRW and Marc Garlasco, its senior military analyst quoted in the report, missed those obvious inconsistencies in their ‘evidence’ when making their accusations.

In its second report from August 21 HRW showed pictures from alleged Russian sub-ammunition on Georgian ground:

Human Rights Watch researchers saw and photographed unexploded submunitions from cluster munitions in and around the villages of Shindisi, in the Gori district of Georgia.
“Many people have died because of Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Georgia, even as Moscow denied it had used this barbaric weapon,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Many more people could be killed or wounded unless Russia allows professional demining organizations to enter at once to clean the affected areas.”

This second report contains these pictures of unexploded submunitions as evidence:

Compare those to pictures from HRW’s own June 2007 Cluster Ammunition Chart (pdf).

In that HRW chart the object in the picture on the left is identified as M85 submunition as produced by various ‘western’ countries. The bomblet in the picture on the right is identified as PTAB 2.5M, content of the Russian RBK-250 clusterbombs. It is obvious that the pictures from Georgia resemble the western submunition type. Pictures from the 2006 Lebanon war show (scroll down) similar M85 submunition dropped by Israel. Again one has to ask why HRW’s senior military analyst Marc Garlasco miss-identifies these.

Yesterday the government of Georgia admitted that it used cluster ammunition in the recent war. Astonishingly it did so after a request from a different HRW expert:

The Georgian MoD released a press statement on Monday evening after Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on September 1 that in a letter sent to HRW, the Georgian side had admitted to using cluster bombs in the vicinity of Roki Tunnel, linking breakaway South Ossetia with Russia.

“The Georgian armed forces have GRADLAR 160 multiple launch rocket systems and MK4 LAR 160 type (with M85 bomblets) rockets with a range of 45 kilometers,” the Georgian MoD said.

The GRADLAR 160 is a product of the Israel Military Industry Ltd. It uses tube launched missiles with a diameter of 160mm and M85 submunition.

It seems that a different researcher than Marc Garlasco at HRW finally made a correct identification and contacted the Georgians:

Bonnie Docherty, arms division researcher at HRW said on September 1, that M85 cluster munitions were discovered in Shindisi, a village outside breakaway South Ossetia, north of the town of Gori. Docherty said that while this could point to Russian use, Moscow was not known to have that particular make in its arsenal. She added that it was possible that the M85 munitions had been scattered about, having been hit in a Russian strike.

It is also possible, and much more likely, that Georgian troops fired their cluster-ammunition rockets against advancing Russian troops in Shindisi, i.e. on Georgian native ground, hitting their own population.

A Russian strike on a Georgian GRADLAR launcher would certainly not have ‘scattered’ such ammunition intact. Why isn’t HRW considering the alternative explanation?

Despite the new finding that submunitions found in Shindisi are not of Russian origin HRW in its September 1 press release still speaks of Russian cluster bomb usage:

Human Rights Watch said it welcomed Georgia’s willingness to acknowledge its use of cluster munitions and expressed hope that this was a first step toward adopting the treaty.

In August, Human Rights Watch documented Russia’s use of several types of cluster munitions, both air- and ground-launched, in a number of locations in Georgia’s Gori district, causing 11 civilian deaths and wounding dozens more ( Russia continues to deny using cluster munitions.

“Russia has yet to own up to using cluster munitions and the resulting civilian casualties,” said Garlasco.

But all HRW ‘documented’ in its earlier reports was misidentified debris and submunition. On what basis then is Marc Garlasco again making these accusations when the only proof for them are the August 15 and August 21 HRW reports which mistakenly identify Israeli made rockets and submunitions as Russian?

I have remarked on Marc Garlasco a while ago when he mad this laughable remark:

“In their deliberate targeting, the Air Force has all but eliminated civilian casualties in Afghanistan,”

Add an ‘s’ to civilian and strike the word ‘casualties’ and the sentence is more near to the truth than what Garlasco implied.

If Human Rights Watch wants to achieve a somewhat believable, neutral position in conflicts, it would be well advised to distance itself from a ‘senior military analyst’ that is not able to distinguish 160 mm tube launched rockets from 325 mm airdrop bombs and uses such false ‘evidence’ for partisan accusation.

We again point to the professional history of Marc Garlasco and question his suitability for his current ‘human rights’ job:

Before coming to HRW, Marc spent seven years in the Pentagon as a senior intelligence analyst covering Iraq. His last position there was chief of high-value targeting during the Iraq War in 2003. Marc was on the Operation Desert Fox (Iraq) Battle Damage Assessment team in 1998, led a Pentagon Battle Damage Assessment team to Kosovo in 1999, and recommended thousands of aimpoints on hundreds of targets during operations in Iraq and Serbia. He also participated in over 50 interrogations as a subject matter expert.

In its August 15 and 21 press releases HRW accused Russia of using cluster ammunition in Shindisi near Gori in Georgia. In the September 1 press release HRW admits that the submunitions found there was not Russian, but ‘western’ M85 submunition as used by the Georgian army.

But as this current screenshot of the HRW homepage shows, it is still accusing Russia and it is still distributing the obviously false ‘evidence’ to make that case.

When will HRW stop doing so?

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