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Armchair Investigators at Front of British Inquiry into Spy Poisoning (nytimes.com)
24 points by danso 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments





From what the article says it doesn't seem like they are armchair investigators, they've been working on such things since 2014 in a very serious manner.

It looks like good old investigative journalism, and not conducted by the usual heavyweights.


Just the reminder - most (if not all) Bellingcat investigations about MH-17 proved to be true.

So 'armchair' investigators apparently beat thousands of 'professional' Russian FSB/DoD investigators.


I find Bellingcat about as credible as Crowdstrike... a lot of solid, interesting evidence, and then a tail end of questionable conclusions that seem out of character.

The conclusions they draw about the Russian spies are so fundamentally basic that to question them would be a shocking assault on truth.

These spies used GRU HQ address on their undercover passports. They registered over 300 sequential vehicles all to spies. They used their real names! This wasn't a "Bellingcat isn't credible" situation but a "GRU failed at basic spycraft" situation.


The "questionable conclusions" on the first suspect have been confirmed by UK and US officials.

Well the Russian government seems to take them seriously enough that if I were them I'd buy a big life insurance policy and start being worried about polonium in my food if you catch my drift.

This smells like Reddit and the Boston bombings all over again.

Not to compliment Reddit but their boondoggle witch hunt wasn't that much worse than the official state-sponsored boondoggle witch hunt. Reddit didn't kick down a few hundred doors without probable cause or shoot up a neighborhood, granted they also didn't get the guy.

And? Is that any better or worse than the media and their fiascos?

That's the point of free speech and free assembly. People are allowed to be wrong.

I'd rather have too many people asking questions and investigating rather than too few.


The difference is that Bellingcat, unlike Reddit, appear to have a network of agents in Russia able to obtain official government data, either via hacking or plain bribery. Eg passports, vehicle registrations, etc.

This brings their investigations much closer to simple join-the-dots exercises.


There is some value in this but it’s buried beneath a ton of stupid vigilantism.

Questions need to be asked about how the data was obtained in order to obtain more data, like how do you get to mass email classmates? Take the July 2014 Malaysia Airlines attack, who knew Putin had flown over the area in a near identical near looking aircraft before hand? Was the missile attack supposed to take Putin out?

Remember there are always at least two sides to every story and to question everything because everyone has an agenda.


Sure, but sometimes that agenda is simply to uncover facts. Worrying about the agenda can obscure things more than it clarifies. It isn't always about the agenda.

On emailing classmates, that's probably trivial. Lots of school classes have Facebook pages or WhatsApp groups, or mail groups or such. These can be trivially easy to join.

These people are Russian military officers, they traveled to Salisbury, they did these things, they went back to Russia. They lied about who they are and why they went there. It doesn't really matter what the agenda of the people uncovering this is, as long as the information is valid. The question is, what should be done about it?


Do you think the military, any military, would require employees to remove their social media profiles? I think so otherwise it seems to be poor planning considering the UK military used to get their squaddies to DoD wipe their hard drives before bringing any computer equipment back from Germany to the UK in the 80's/90's.

I wonder if the Russia rhetoric is just a Cold War 2.0 rhetoric designed to stimulate economic activity and innovation, whilst testing relevant bodies in the UK. Its nearly ten years since the SEC was caught watching porn before the financial crisis kicked off. Familiarity breeds contempt etc etc.


>Do you think the military, any military, would require employees to remove their social media profiles?

Oh come on, someone recently compiled detailed information on US military bases from the publicly available fitbit data of all the soldiers running round them. you can even figure out deployment patterns from it. Most militaries, even the big ones, are desperately naive about this stuff.


>Oh come on, someone recently compiled detailed information on US military bases from the publicly available fitbit data of all the soldiers running round them. you can even figure out deployment patterns from it. Most militaries, even the big ones, are desperately naive about this stuff.

I know and so we have to trust them to make the right decisions when taking a country into war. Jeeze we really are run by amateurs!


> is just a Cold War 2.0 rhetoric

During Cold War Russia hadn't annexed parts of European countries or left the radioactive trails all across town after assassinating their 'enemy of the state'.


Military in Russia today are simply at the service of their mafia bosses, so mafia's methods is something they are used to as well.

> July 2014 Malaysia Airlines attack, who knew Putin had flown over the area in a near identical near looking aircraft before hand?

"near identical looking"? Because, you know, either AA missiles are based on visual recognition AI or they're manned by special breed of operators who can distinguish fine details on planes 10 kilometers up in the sky.


I didn't know about that rumor regarding Putin. Can you give me a link to read?

That one was quashed pretty quickly, as it became clear that the missile was fired by Russians not Ukrainians, oh and actually Putin didn't fly over Ukraine anyway...

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/malaysia-airlines-p...


I realized how ridiculous it was after a few articles. Gives further credence to the disinformation accusations.



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