I dislike the term ‘consensus’, especially in matters of what is true. Often, a consensus will be wrong. The point about certainty is that, the more certain one is, the better and more specific the evidence should to be to justify that consensus.
A former British Ambassador as written on the question of the Salisbury attack.
In a piece entitled, ‘Russian to Judgement’ he writes that:
A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.
One should read his entire piece. It is interesting.
Today he has posted another piece, entitled, ‘Of a Type developed by Liars’. He states:
I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation.
The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, “of a type developed by Russia” is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday:
‘This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.’
When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise.