Yves here. It’s disheartening to have to run this post. Even though Seymour Hersh wrote at some length (see here and here) about how the idea that Assad was behind a sarin attack in 2013 was a White House narrative that quickly fell apart, forcing Obama to back down from a plan to launch massive airstrikes against Syria, the latest round of claims against Syria, made by a President that the media until recently demonized as utterly untrustworthy, is treated as gospel truth. And notice that the canard about Assad’s role 2013 attacks is being hauled out of mothballs as part of the demonization campaign.
Gaius’ post compiles some of the recent accounts throwing doubts on the White House’s claims. This is yet another critical thinking exercise, although it’s a shame that almost every major news story needs to be approached from that angle. And needless to say, this example also illustrates the importance of the alternative media as a venue for independent analysis.
By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny
(This piece is organized in two parts, the story to this point and the new evidence. To go directly to the new evidence, click here.)
Since our last report on the Syrian “gas attack” story (see “Another Intelligence Group Makes the Case: Assad’s Responsibility Is Not Proved“), events have moved along. Nothing, though, has dismissed the doubts of those willing to entertain doubts that the story as told by the White House — and repeated by Democrats and Republicans alike — is baseless, a fabrication.
First, British scientists were given samples from the alleged gas attack that contained traces of sarin. The presence of sarin had previously been doubted, since first-responders were videoed handling victims with their bare hands (see image at the top), actions that would have killed them if sarin were present on the victims’ bodies. On this evidence — the discovery of sarin in samples given to analysts — British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft concurs with the U.S. that Assad’s responsibility for a gas attack is “highly likely.” In other words, an estimation.
Second, a small crater that was said to have been made by a sarin-containing munitions blast has been studied by Dr. Theodore Postol, professor emeritis at MIT, and he showed that the blast dispersal pattern is “more consistent with the possibility that the munition was placed on the ground rather than dropped from a plane.” Postol continues, “Analysis of the debris as shown in the photographs cited by the White House clearly indicates that the munition was almost certainly placed on the ground with an external detonating explosive on top of it that crushed the container so as to disperse the alleged load of sarin [downward].”
Dr. Postol’s report has been referenced in such pieces as this, by Robert Borosage writing at The Nation. Postol’s original document is available here.
The Story to This Point
Gareth Porter, an investigative reporter who writes on national security policy, summarizes events to that point as follows (my emphasis):
The Trump administration officials dismissed the Russian claim that the Syrian airstrike had targeted a munitions warehouse controlled by Islamic extremists as an afterthought to cover up the Syrian government’s culpability for the chemical attack. Moreover, the Trump officials claimed that US intelligence had located the site where the Syrian regime had dropped the chemical weapon.
However, two new revelations contradict the Trump administration’s line on the April 4 attack. A former US official knowledgeable about the episode told Truthout that the Russians had actually informed their US counterparts in Syria of the Syrian military’s plan to strike the warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun 24 hours before the strike. And a leading analyst on military technology, Dr. Theodore Postol of MIT, has concluded that the alleged device for a sarin attack could not have been delivered from the air but only from the ground, meaning that the chemical attack may not have been the result of the Syrian airstrike.
[T]he US military allegedly knew in advance that the strike was coming: Russian military officers informed their American counterparts of the Syrian military’s plan to strike the warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun city 24 hours before the planned airstrike, according to the former US official who spoke with Truthout. The official is in direct contact with a US military intelligence officer with access to information about the US-Russian communications. The military intelligence officer reported to his associate that the Russians provided the information about the strike to the Americans through the normal US-Russian Syria deconfliction telephone line, which was established after the Russian intervention in 2015 to prevent any accidental clash between the two powers. The officer said that Russia communicated to the US the fact that the Syrians believed that the warehouse held toxic chemicals.
That information was considered so politically sensitive that after its initial dissemination, it was available only to a few officials, the US military intelligence officer told his associate.
The senior US officials briefing the press insisted that a Syrian air strike delivering sarin was the only credible explanation for the dozens of deaths in Khan Sheikhoun. One of the officials cited a video showing a crater in the middle of a main road, which the Trump administration’s key officials have determined was the site of the chemical weapon that reportedly killed 50 to 100 people. He implied that this was evidence that a Syrian airstrike had released what was believed to be sarin.
But Dr. Theodore Postol of MIT, who debunked the original official claims of the location of rockets that hit Syria’s Ghouta area with what appeared to be sarin on August 21, 2013, has come to a different conclusion. Postol says that the carcass of the delivery vehicle — shown in last week’s video and in still photos of the small crater — indicates that the chemical attack was not delivered via airstrike but from the spot on the road where it was found.
For more, see the rest of Mr. Porter’s clear write-up here. To that point, sarin had been suspected, but not proved. As Porter notes: “Exposure to smoke munitions that create phosphine gas when in contact with moisture can cause neurological symptoms that mimic those of sarin, because they both damage the body’s ability to produce the enzyme cholinesterase.”
Postol’s piece showing that the suspected sarin device “could not have been delivered from the air” is linked both in Borosage’s piece and in my fifth paragraph, above.
Finally, if Gareth Porter and his sources are right, the U.S. military knew everything they needed to know to understand that the reason they gave for launching the Tomahawk strike was false. That they knowingly lied, in other words.
New Evidence that the Trump Administration Lied about Assad’s Role
And now the new evidence. I’d like to print the follow-up report from Dr. Postol. It contains video evidence that indicates tampering with the “bomb site” by men wearing “Health Directorate” uniforms in rebel-held Idlib in the two or three days after the so-called “gas attack.
Theodore Postol is the former Chair of the MIT Security Studies Department and was called as an expert witness in a lawsuit against the National Missile Defense Program. This is his area of expertise. According to Dr. Postol, this clear evidence should have been available to any competent intelligence professional. The attack was reported on April 4. The U.S. intelligence report claiming that Assad was responsible for a sarin attack was published April 11.
In other words, Dr. Postol’s piece below supports the conclusion in my headline — that it indeed contains “evidence that the Syrian gas story was fabricated by the White House.” (Side comment: What does that make of claims by even well-meaning Democrats like this one?)
Note also, as you read, the role and responsibility in this deception of General McMaster, a member of Trump’s National Security Council. According to one report (detailed here), McMaster may well have become, in my phrasing, the “tip of the spear for neocon control of Trump’s foreign policy.”
The rest of this piece is Dr. Postol’s report, printed in full. Emphasis, where mine, is called out and attributed. Emphasis added by Dr. Postol is called out but not attributed. Remaining emphasis is in the original quoted document.
Evidence that the White House Intelligence Report
of April 11, 2017 Was Fabricated
April 14, 2017
Video Evidence of False Claims Made in the White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017
This is my third report assessing the White House intelligence Report of April 11, 2017. My first report was titled A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 about the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria and my second report was an Addendum to the first report.
This report provides unambiguous evidence that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) of April 11, 2017 contains false and misleading claims that could not possibly have been accepted in any professional review by impartial intelligence experts. The WHR was produced by the National Security Council under the oversight of the National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster[emphasis added (GP)].
The evidence presented herein is from two selected videos which are part of a larger cache of videos that are available on YouTube. These videos were uploaded to YouTube in the time period between April 5, 2017 and April 7, 2017. Analysis of the videos shows that all of the scenes taken at the site where the WHR claims was the location of a sarin release indicate significant tampering with the site. Since these videos were available roughly one week before the White House report was issued on April 11, this indicates that the office of the WHR made no attempt to utilize the professional intelligence community to obtain accurate data in support of the findings in the report.
The video evidence shows workers at the site roughly 30 hours after the alleged attack that were wearing clothing with the logo “Idlib Health Directorate.” These individuals were photographed putting dead birds from a birdcage into plastic bags. The implication of these actions was that the birds had died after being placed in the alleged sarin crater. However, the video also shows the same workers inside and around the same crater with no protection of any kind against sarin poisoning [emphasis mine (GP)].
These individuals were wearing honeycomb face masks and medical exam gloves. They were otherwise dressed in normal streetwear and had no protective clothing of any kind.
The honeycomb face masks would provide absolutely no protection against either sarin vapors or sarin aerosols [emphasis mine (GP)]. The masks are only designed to filter small particles from the air. If there were sarin vapor, it would be inhaled without attenuation by these individuals. If the sarin were in an aerosol form, the aerosol would have condensed into the pours in the masks, and would have evaporated into a highly lethal gas as the individuals inhaled through the mask. It is difficult to believe that such health workers, if they were health workers, would be so ignorant of these basic facts.
In addition, other people dressed as health workers were standing around the crater without any protection at all.
As noted in my earlier reports, the assumption in WHR that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with was totally unjustified and no competent intelligence analyst would have agreed that this assumption was valid. The implication of this observation is clear – the WHR was not reviewed and released by any competent intelligence experts unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report [emphasis mine (GP)].
The WHR also makes claims about “communications intercepts” which supposedly provide high confidence that the Syrian government was the source of the attack. There is no reason to believe that the veracity of this claim is any different from the now verified false claim that there was unambiguous evidence of a sarin release at the cited crater.
The relevant quotes from the WHR are collected below for purposes of reference:
The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib Province on April 4, 2017.
We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting.
We cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods, but the following includes an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of this attack.
By 12:15 PM [April4, 2017] local time, broadcasted local videosincluded images of dead children of varying ages.
… at 1:10 PM [April4, 2017] local … follow-on videos showing the bombing of a nearby hospital …
Commercial satellite imagery from April 6 showed impact craters around the hospital that are consistent with open source reports of a conventional attack on the hospital after the chemical attack.
Moscow has since claimed that the release of chemicals was caused by a regime airstrike on a terrorist ammunition depot in the eastern suburbs of Khan Shaykhun.
An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed [Emphasis Added]—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, [Emphasis Added] after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.
observed munition remnants at the crater and staining around the impact point are consistent with a munition that functioned, but structures nearest to the impact crater did not sustain damage that would be expected from a conventional high-explosive payload. Instead, the damage is more consistent with a chemical munition.
Russia’s allegations fit with a pattern of deflecting blame from the regime and attempting to undermine the credibility of its opponents.
Summary and Conclusions
It is now clear from video evidence that the WHR report was fabricated without input from the professional intelligence community [emphasis mine (GP)].
The press reported on April 4 that a nerve agent attack had occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria during the early morning hours locally on that day. On April 7, The United States carried out a cruise missile attack on Syria ordered by President Trump. It now appears that the president ordered this cruise missile attack without any valid intelligence to support it [emphasis mine (GP)].
In order to cover up the lack of intelligence to supporting the president’s action, the National Security Council produced a fraudulent intelligence report on April 11 four days later [emphasis mine (GP)]. The individual responsible for this report was Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor. The McMaster report is completely undermined by a significant body of video evidence taken after the alleged sarin attack and before the US cruise missile attack that unambiguously shows the claims in the WHR could not possibly be true. This cannot be explained as a simple error.
The National Security Council Intelligence Report clearly refers to evidence that it claims was obtained from commercial and open sources shortly after the alleged nerve agent attack (on April 5 and April 6). If such a collection of commercial evidence was done, it would have surely found the videos contained herein.
This unambiguously indicates a dedicated attempt to manufacture a false claim that intelligence actually supported the president’s decision to attack Syria, and of far more importance, to accuse Russia of being either complicit or a participant in an alleged atrocity [emphasis mine (GP)].
The attack on the Syrian government threatened to undermine the relationship between Russia and the United States. Cooperation between Russia and the United States is critical to the defeat of the Islamic State. In addition, the false accusation that Russia knowingly engaged in an atrocity raises the most serious questions about a willful attempt to do damage relations with Russia for domestic political purposes.
We repeat here a quote from the WHR:
An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun[Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.
The data provided in these videos make it clear that the WHR made no good-faith attempt to collect data that could have supported its “confident assessment.” that the Syrian government executed a sarin attack as indicated by the location and characteristics of the crater.
This very disturbing event is not a unique situation. President George W. Bush argued that he was misinformed about unambiguous evidence that Iraq was hiding a substantial store of weapons of mass destruction. This false intelligence led to a US attack on Iraq that started a process that ultimately led to the political disintegration in the Middle East, which through a series of unpredicted events then led to the rise of the Islamic State [emphasis mine (GP)].
On August 30, 2013, the White House produced a similarly false report about the nerve agent attack on August 21, 2013 in Damascus [emphasis mine (GP)]. This report also contained numerous intelligence claims that could not be true. An interview with President Obama published in The Atlantic in April 2016 indicates that Obama was initially told that there was solid intelligence that the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Ghouta, Syria. Obama reported that he was later told that the intelligence was not solid by the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
Equally serious questions are raised about the abuse of intelligence findings by the incident in 2013. Questions that have not been answered about that incident is how the White House produced a false intelligence report with false claims that could obviously be identified by experts outside the White House and without access to classified information. There also needs to be an explanation of why this 2013 false report was not corrected. Secretary of State John Kerry emphatically testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee repeating information in this so-called un-equivocating report.
On August 30, 2013 Secretary of State Kerry made the following statement from the Treaty Room in the State Department:
Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack [Emphasis added], and I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves.
It is now obvious that this incident produced by the WHR, while just as serious in terms of the dangers it created for US security, was a clumsy and outright fabrication of a report that was certainly not supported by the intelligence community [emphasis mine (GP)].
In this case, the president, supported by his staff, made a decision to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. This action was accompanied by serious risks of creating a confrontation with Russia, and also undermining cooperative efforts to win the war against the Islamic State.
I therefore conclude that there needs to be a comprehensive investigation of these events that have either misled people in the White House White House, or worse yet, been perpetrated by people to protect themselves from domestic political criticisms for uninformed and ill-considered actions.
Sincerely yours, Theodore A. Postol
Professor Emeritus of Science,
Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Video Evidence That Reveals the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 Contains Demonstrably False Claims about a Sarin Dispersal Crater Allegedly Created in the April 4, 2017 Attack in Khan Sheikoun, Syria
Dead Birds Video
[Embedded below (GP)]
[Stills from VIDEO #1, click to view (GP)]
Idlib Health Directorate Tampering with Alleged Sarin Dispersal Site Video
[Embedded below (GP)]
[Stills 1–10 from VIDEO #2, click to view (GP)]
[Stills 11–13 from VIDEO #2 below (GP)]
The claim did most certainly not fall apart.
Some of us followed Bellingcat (and it’s predecessor Brown Moses) back then. They studied videos, pictures, social media posts for month after month, in public, and built up a huge catalog of mostly very boring facts. Then a new kind of missile started showing up, and claims of the Syrian army using them for chemical attacks. More pictures week after weeks. More tweets and YouTube videos from all sides in the conflict matched with claims. Then August. Impressive setup for a hoax, I must say!
You’re trying to (or rather, you are giving voice to someone who’s trying to) dismiss all that with expert opinions of “the glove doesn’t fit” variety. Discounting all the other things you will have trouble explaining if you buy that.
Classic denialism: picking one fact that looks like it might be individually contestible, deny it vigorously based on shrewd-sounding expert judgment (that doesn’t look like a real crater! Buildings don’t collapse that way unless they’re being demolished!), and ignore the larger picture. Of course motivated by external beliefs – you don’t like US Syria policy, do you? Neither do I, but that doesn’t mean Assad was framed!
Please don’t take my words for it. Not Higgins’ either. Instead look at the public data they’ve assembled, and look at which explanations hold up.
It is really quite remarkable to see you run fact free tripe. For starters, Belligcat is in the employ of BBG, meaning he is a propagandist for the US party line. Second,had you bothered to read the authoritative accounts by Seymour Hersh to which I linked prominently, the claims did indeed “fall apart” and for reasons having squat to do with images and video. Those BTW fall in the category of what Lambert calls “web evidence” meaning not reliable.
The reason the claims fell apart was that a substantial portion of the US military doubted them and were bucking the White House plan to escalate. They got samples of the sarin, and the analysis concluded that there was no way it was the kind of sarin Assad would have used or made.
And your precious Bellingcat has never walked back his claims in light of being shown to been duped? Or worse, he did and you are knowingly messaging otherwise?
I read the first review two days ago of Dr Postal which was formal analysis of what “general perception” was of the incident and it’s correlation back to Seymour Hersh 2013 report more than a week ago. The audience is hyper sensitive for B.S. Detection.
Almost concurrently – Pompous Pompeo presentation ( first one he ever made as Director ) was ….we don’t need no stinking facts.
Trump broke his pick on this one with his supporters – he is now merely, one of them – as a Tool.
People are disgusted.
This Country is lost.
The Intelligence Community is large & anonymous with a motive in conflict with democratic principles that revolve around truth.
We are all judges who can see truth for ourselves is what I understand to be a touchstone of why the free press is to be protected.
Do not look to the spooks for truth. Do not look to the governments for truth.
Our motives as peoples who want peace, well there it is, we want peace, but know others want war. What for? What do our powerful want war for?
I knew an armed spook, and his motivations for going into the Congo again were simply to kill the guy that shot him up and put him in a cell and had his teeth knocked out and his fingernails pulled out.
We have our war and they have theirs.
We must not let ourselves be used to further wars that do nothing but feed the egos of lost soldiers who are destined as Vikings to die heroic deaths in battles for nothing but their egos and the status that comes from death in combat.
Trump? Trump is one of those people with power who has never been beaten up for anything he has ever done to make enemies. In politics you get enemies that go beyond saying bad things about you. He thinks as he lives in luxury that all his enemies are luxury enemies.
We have real enemies that want to stick knives in our guts. Starvation was what happened to the Chinese Communists who helped kill our US enemies the Japanese.
Starvation was what happened to the North Koreans that kept and keep a border.
Kim Yong-un has never been beaten up for his lies or anything.
Over and over I think of the end of War & Peace.
Meantime I am grateful as hell to Yves & Lambert. If there is a reason for this from Gaius it is that war is bad for the economy.
Or what? If you simply have the power to print the truth, do it?
That is worthy enough. Truth is beautiful.
Shit to damn the US President & the world had no idea that the fleet called and Armada was going far away from North Korea.
Norman Mailer pegged the sad incompetence of the CIA and the rest of the US intelligence community in Harlots Ghost, and like any Ford that rattles, institutions just don’t change.
Revolution is required and what that looks like is important. We can go on and on and on and on but I can tell you for a fact that ripping the name Trump off the DC Post Office is what must happen.
Economics is the reason for Naked Capitalism.
Capitalism is a great system as long as it is regulated.
What think you all of offering Statehood for Russia as long as a new election was held that meant both Trump was deposed along with Putin?
If the UN was reinvented to send by aircraft food to every starving corner and education of women was made a reality for everywhere about all that mattered to women which is how to read so as Sen says they and their children don’t starve, would you support that?
If I was elected President I would simply fire everyone of the US Intelligence Community and get by with IHS Janes.
I think that an important part of the story here is being neglected and that is of the Russian reaction after this bogus attack when they shut the deconfliction line down. It was very specific and very sudden and I think that there may be a reason for this. If I may quote from this story-
“..the Russians provided the information about the strike to the Americans through the normal US-Russian Syria deconfliction telephone line, which was established after the Russian intervention in 2015 to prevent any accidental clash between the two powers. The officer said that Russia communicated to the US the fact that the Syrians believed that the warehouse held toxic chemicals. That information was considered so politically sensitive that after its initial dissemination, it was available only to a few officials, the US military intelligence officer told his associate.”
How about we try this sequence on for size. After the notification was given, someone in the American government put out a message to their counterparts in either Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey about what was about to happen. As sarin was involved, I would suggest the later nation as there have been stories of Turkey supplying chemical weapons to the jihadists. The scheduled attack arrives and straight away the sarin accusations are made against Syria and then Russia with their so-called ‘proof’. Turkey comes out and says that they have tested some of the victims and said it is totally a sarin attack. In other words the whole thing was a setup from start to finish.
The Russians, taking about half a second to realize what had been done to them, are furious and respond by slamming shut the US-Russian Syria deconfliction telephone line as it had been used to set them up. American aircraft will now have to take their chances over the suddenly very unfriendly skies over Syria and no longer will the jihadists be given 24 hours warning about future attacks. In fact, the coalition has already cut back on their flights over Syria.
I don’t know what the long term reaction of the Russians will be to all this but they do not strike me as a very forgiving people when they are attacked. There will be payback and its gunna be bad.
It helps to review this account posted in yesterday’s Water Cooler. It’s a different 3rd party report on Dr. Postal’s report we saw a couple day’s ago. In that report I didn’t see any vid or photo evidence that clearly showed the alleged bomb fragments. The report made some reference to a “squashed tube of toothpaste” but I couldn’t find any pics of such, so I had trouble making sense of that report.
In this report, scroll down to the bottom, and it all becomes clear. The so called sarin bomb is shown and it looks to be about a foot long and 5 inches in diameter. It’s squashed – the opposite of how you’d think a exploding bomb would work. Then, notice there is a crater – not what you’d expect from a tube of toothpaste.
Next, if your critical thinking skills are just getting warmed up, the WH report told us that the “bomb” was delivered by a single SU-22 fighter bomber that came from far away. One bomb, one plane, was entrusted with a mission that entailed first safely getting past any manpads or even anti-aircraft artillery for hundreds of miles, then do a speedy low pass bombing run, visually targeting some building, dropping one tiny unguided bomb and hitting the building, which this tiny bomb wouldn’t even make a dent in. (And not the road – that would be a failed mission! Off to Siberia with that pilot!)
Plus, if you are not yet at a decision point to launch 57 Tomahawk cruise missiles costing $94 million as your “measured response”, here’s a vid showing what a real SU-22 bombing run looks like.
Almost forget. The SU-22 has wing mounting rails for bombs. They tend to hold big bombs, 250-500 lbs about. They have a release mechanism to let the bomb drop and from there the bomb trajectory to the target is then directed by physics. There are usually some mating rail or other type of metal attachment welded to the bomb casing. This is so the bomb stays attached to the aircraft wing while flying at 600 mph for a few hundred miles to the target.
The photos show no such attachment means for this alleged aircraft ordnance.
What he meant by ‘squashed tube of toothpaste’ was that sarin gas cannot be compressed so when pressure is applied, the tube will burst ‘like a tube of squashed toothpaste’ in a jagged seam, as it were.
Gases can be compressed, but sarin is a liquid with high volatility, i.e. in the tube it would have been incompressible but once released much would have vaporized. For general grisly details:
I’m pointing out that it couldn’t have been a exploding chemical bomb, and if it didn’t explode, it’s unlikely you’d get a “bomb crater” that looks like that from something that in my wild guess may weigh 50 lbs and didn’t explode.
Also, the bomb trajectory, if dropped from a fighter bomber on a bombing run (see the video I linked too on what bombing runs look like), would have significate forward velocity at impact and would hit at an angle, not at a 90 angle to the road pavement. I doubt it would leave a small, nicely round edged crater with vertical edges. It’s also amazing it just abruptly stopped in the crater – after given a forward velocity vector of well upwards of probably at least 100 mph, and maybe a few hundred mph if the pilot was worried about being an easy target for manpad missile launchers.
At a risk of beating this to death, I’ll re-iterate the author’s scenario, which I also think is the only believable one, is that the sealed up tube full of Sarin liquid was hand placed in the crater and was covered with an external explosive that was detonated in place and the downward force of that explosion squished the Sarin tube against the ground, and ruptured the container. It picture clearly shows a lengthwise crack in the tube. It also seems to be bent like a hotdog – say from being squished while laying on it’s side in a crater with a rounded bottom.
The unanswered questions almost write themselves so, one more. We are shown photos of dead test birds and hear of reports of autopsies done on dead victims sent to Turkey. But nothing about chemical testing in the Sarin canister or the dirt in the crater, which would have made very good samples.
In reading this and other alternative media articles on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, one thing that struck me was that apparently no official US intelligence analysts stood behind Trump and other politicians’ claims that the evidence was conclusive. The entire thing rests on “open source” i.e. twitter/facebook posts, autopsies done in Turkey (like they don’t have a motive to lie) and “classified” intelligence that the Trump admin refuses to release.
Americans should be hanging their heads in shame. It is as if we’ve learned nothing from the Iraq WMD canard.
From the Gulf of Tonkin incident to the latest gas attack in Syria the USA has had credulous unchristian members of congress who seem ready kill first and turn the other cheek later. I fear that the volunteer army does two things: makes congressmen who are good at following orders and soldiers who could never be elect to congress. War is a racket. Speak with a soldier from the last 20 years who has been in a serious battle and they would not be so credulous or callow. I remember being at my father’s knee when he was swearing at the TV as President Johnson announced that we would attack Vietnam; my father was drafted and served the Battle of the Bulge. Dad described how he and two other soldiers rushed a German machine gun nest, one guy got bullets in his eyes the other died gurgling from a bullet in the throat. Dad lived, the Germans died. He was never right again and he would not be join the other unchristian republicans in congress and approve more killing on such weak evidence. We must eliminate the all volunteer army today.
Unchristian? Read the Holy Babble. Yahweh is the Owner of All Infernal Names-a God of War. To claim the warmongering is Un Christian is very Un Biblical.
Plus, an eternity of Hellfire makes Sarin seem like a picnic.
(I do agree with the rest of your post 100%, but this one line caught my heathen eye!)
There’s two types of Christian. There are followers of the teachings of Jesus who are peaceable folk and then there are followers of the bible who are war mongering authoritarian jerks.
If by that you mean restore the draft I couldn’t disagree more. We’ve gone mad with or without the draft and would continue to be so if it returned with far more citizen cannon-fodder.
How about eliminating the ease and dishonesty in which we get here time and time again? How about establishing and prosecuting our own countless war crimes. How about eliminating paid mercenaries, terrorists like al NusraISISQaeda etc., covert funding, arming, training of anyone but our own citizen volunteers who can only do one thing… defense of/within our borders? How about eliminating the kind of secrecy which keeps so many wondering what’s really going on?
Ending the draft was the first step, the rest hasn’t been tried yet… don’t turn back.
What is the effective difference between paid mercenaries and the Pentagon and their “volunteer” service effectively serving as an employer of last resort? Not much. The benefit of compulsory service is that pacifists would not be under-represented in the ranks and media-indoctrinated lovers of violence and hierarchy would not be over-represented. Those things you want to eliminate fade away when civilians are no longer an out-group and military service is no longer a mark of distinction.
Besides, every American should be up-to-date on counter-insurgency doctrine, in order that they can themselves put down such domestic enemies as the neo cabals effectively, quickly, and with as little collateral damage as possible.
I’m not sure about conscription either, however there appear to be some “virtues” to it.
Firstly, conscription makes questions of war & peace far more immediate to the general public. It should place (at least the appearance of) a higher moral standard on the government’s use of the military: no longer can “volunteer” & it’s assumptions be unambiguously employed.
Further, conscription could widen the class basis of the military: hopefully children of the middle & upper classes would conscripted, placing more pressure on the government to act in a considered fashion.
Unfortunately, none of these conclusions are inevitable — real conscription may prove no brake on future government action.
Right on, Dorn.
My question is why? Trump’s why? Deep State’s why?
Is it all about the money … or ?
indeed. what the hell is worth risking nuclear war for in syria???
Its a great game shuffle.
You got heaps of hydrocarbons sitting in Iraq that would lessen the stranglehold Russia has on EU, if only it could reach them.
But going south means dealing with the Persian Gulf, not a lot of good history there.
And going north means either Syria or the Kurdish parts of Turkey. And the latter would infuriate Istanbul.
So here we are, attempting a regime change in Syria that has gone pear shaped in the most epic sense.
One part typical industrial-military complex pushing for bombings so they can sell bombs, one part Trump needing to engineer a pseudo-crisis that allows him to drop big, manly, phallic bombs on a designated baddie so he can put on airs of being tough guy for his base.
Why? It all starts with Trump’s small hands. Here is a credible scenario:
Trump is a creature driven by one primary need— to overcome his personal insecurity by continually inflating his ego as a security shield. He has no core beliefs that do not originate from that need.
Trump sincerely believed that one way he could write his name in the history books was by reversing the Russiaphobia campaign and doing a profitable business deal that would result in alliances like a merger between Exon Mobile and the Russian state oil companies Gazprom and Rosneft. However the relentless DemoCon attacks labeling him “Putin’s Tool” completely paralyzed his ability to begin, And don’t forget that he surrounded himself with hard core militarists, Goldman Sachs banksters, and fellow billionaires. So when his advisors proposed a way to get the DemoCons off his back he was primed to follow their advice.
The program is quite brilliant if you don’t mind killing a few hundred or a few million people and have absolutely no compunction about lying and fabricating reality. It appeals to a risk taker with a belief in his own personal invulnerability. And it does have a positive end as its goal– eliminating the threat posed by the rogue nation of North Korea.
Step 1: Create the false flag attack in Syria. It is pretty clear how it was carried out, even through the clever tactic of using Russian-supplied targeting information to select the location to plant the non-Sarin poison gas canister.
Step 2: Call up Putin on the red phone and ask him to clear out all Russian aircraft and personnel from a lightly used airfield that was to be Tomahawked as a show of force. Putin may not have liked the plan, but he is a master diplomat and understood that it was necessary in order for Trump to shed the endless Russia-stole-the-election propaganda war against him.
Step 3: Drop a humongous, biggest ever, made in America bomb on a cave in Afghanistan. After all what are endless wars for if not to fabricate Orange Alerts during elections like the Bushes did or use as demonstrations of our world class bigness?
Step 4: Move on to the real target, Dennis Rodman’s fat buddy in North Korea. He should be quaking in his tennis shoes by now.
Surprise: Kim Jong-un is actually as crazy as Trump is venal. Any chance that a black swan might fly into this airspace?
This is terrifying. Basically a proposition for World War III. Just so our predatory Owners can make more money and grab more power.
Here’s another point about the airfield: If the aim was to keep Syrian planes from dropping more sarin and bombs, why did Trump only destroy airfield buildings? He left the runways intact so that planes were taking off and landing the very next day.
nat gas …. cough !
Trump administration is Obama administration 2.0. Obama administration is Chimp administration 2.0. So Trump administration is Chimp administration 3.0. Why are you expecting anything different after 9/11 or 11/22.
We still have the Chimp era press, Chimp era think tanks, Chimp era foreign policy establishment. Why would anything be different? The only wild card was Trump himself and the above were threatening to impeach him unless he fell in line. Blame them, and most especially Trump himself for being so weak and shallow. BTW the public if not CNN may not be too pleased with the latest beta release of Trump.
One could believe that Trump (another son of more successful father, like Bush Jr and John McCain) knows he will always remain an outsider to the East Coast “Skull and Bones” elite.
If Trump’s supporters abandon and ridicule him as a subservient water boy, he MIGHT wake up that he is being played by the same betters who always ridiculed him.
One can hope Trump hates being viewed as a sucker and he might do better in response.
After more than 200 years of honing the USA democratic process, in this century the USA’s dominant political parties have produced the illustrious Presidential tickets of Gore-Lieberman, Bush-Cheney, Kerry-Edwards, Obama-Biden, McCain-Palin, Romney-Ryan, Clinton-Kaine, and Trump-Pence .
On the bright side, when the USA’s process can’t produce a decent leadership team, this should make it more difficult for the USA to “promote” democracy in when we can’t get it right here.
Excellent reporting has been carried out by James Corbett of The Corbett Report. Here’s his April 10th podcast, complete with transcript and links, for additional information not mentioned in the post here. In the comments are the fruits of open-sourced investigation, including arabic-language sources and translations.
And for a more recent black humor take, see Corbett’s latest video , “The Syria Strikes: A Conspiracy Theory” complete with transcript and links to all source materials.
Jeremy Scahill had Dennis Kucinich on his Intercepted podcast last week to talk about this subject.
You can download it, or play it right on the page. Dennis starts around the 13 minute mark and talks for about 20 minutes. (Click on the player to find the point you want to begin.)
There is a fun cold opening, and then Jeremy talks a bit before introducing Dennis, and I think it is all worth listening to from the beginning. Dennis is definitely worth listening to.
You can scroll down at the link for a transcript if you prefer but you will miss Dennis’s vocal emphasis.
Thx for that, Linda–good interview.
“Can we… can we… all just get
alongit over already?” The suspense is killing me…
All this chatter about the details of this or that incremental approach to the Armageddopocalypse. As if the careful parsing and erudite discourse and fact-checking of each little action or false-flag or body count (now all the rage again, currently up from “36” to “94” for the MOAB Event, how they tell from body parts, who knows?) make a dam’ bit of difference to the trajectories of all the weaponized everything that just keeps getting bigger and bigger, with more and more people “invested” in so many ways in tricking and nudging and jostling and shoving and beating all the rest of us down to the edge of the cliff…
I can’t seem to find any recent stuff (this from a backward look, http://www.alternet.org/story/67385/the_evangelical_christian_takeover_of_the_military) on the large cadre of “Xtian” Fun-damentalist Evangelical officers in the military, the ones that caused a brouhaha at the Air Force Academy not so long ago. These guys (and a few gals, as I recall) see it as a Fatwah-driven (from their “It’s in the Bible!” version of the crazy mullahs we Exceptionalists are supposed to deride and hate) Moral Obligation and Holy Sacred Duty to do everything they can to bring about the stuff that by happenstance got included in that Holly Bibble under the heading “Revelation of St. John the Divine.” These monsters beleeeeve they will be Raptured up to the New Jerusalem and the rest of us sinners cast into the Fiery Pit.
And cautious thinkers and readers might be pardoned for following their instincts and nodding a bit and muttering “Anything is possible in this crazy universe,” and feeling a momentary urge to kneel and pray and start doing like W.C. Fields, notable reprobate and atheist, was reported to be doing on his death bed — thumbing through the New Testament, “looking for loopholes…” As if that hodgepodge of textual agglomeration contains any kind of secret code that will spare them from the Great Dying that they conspire and busily work to bring about… There’s this, http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2014/09/religion-and-american-armed-forces, and this little tidbit, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-oe-aslan22aug22-story.html
And who’s driving the cattle? http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=20596 on McMaster
As provocation, this performance of apocalyptic community theatre has failed to elicit more than a shrug of the shoulders from the west. I suppose the hedonist-in-chief did celebrate with an extra portion of dessert–diabetes often catches its victims unawares. Well-played CIA, well-played.
Nothing in the news media seemed truthful about this from the git-go. Spent a few days, however, giving US Government and news outlets the benefit of the doubt while trying to puzzle out why Assad would do something so stupid. Once it dawned on me that the government and the media were in cahoots (run-up to Iraq redux), question became this: Why is the government lying? I mean, fifty-odd missiles in exchange for their credibility this early in the game? Now it seems more clear, that there a was need to justify flexing some muscle in some theaters to send a message to N. Korea. That’s the best I can come up with.
Disappointing is the repeat tactic of hiding deceptions behind a distinguished military careers. In 2003, it was Colin Powell’s; in 2017, Mattis and McMaster. Or am I wrong to assume the SecDef was even in the loop?
As for the Russians, maybe they are in on this bit of Kabuki theater, maybe not. I would think Putin would have an opinion on North Korean nukes. But I’d think they’d also have an opinion on how they have been implicated in the sarin attack.
The long game–is anyone in the government thinking about the “cry wolf” scenario? Or are they committed to the post-truth world view?
While the evidence of administration opportunism here is strong, the fact that there is so much interest (in debunking the Khan Sheikhoun pretext for the Shayrat airbase raid) suggests that the dark state Hillarists are angry that Trump got a chance to defuse their Russiagate/Wimp accusations without much military action. It is not less militarism that they want, but more wars for Israel.
The warmongers were duped into another transparent provocation, and got only a couple of minor airstrikes for their trouble. They must be planning another 9/11 now, to be carried out again by our AlQaeda/ISreal proxies and blamed on Assad or Putin.
My hope through this whole thing has been that Trump attacked Syria for purely domestic reasons, i.e. to hush the imbeciles in the USA who have been saying that he and Putin were too close.
Viewed that way, it seems to have been a fairly effective move. The vast imbecile chorus of our modern Occidental tragedy now sings approvingly.
n.b. regarding NK there is nothing lunatic about their atomic policy. Today, any minor power, that wishes to retain more than a vestigial sovereignty, must embrace nuclear proliferation.y
So now we are to take as gospel the words of an MIT professor whose “specialty” is not chemical weapons, various former intelligence spooks, ect. We also must accept the evidence that the rebels have access to chemical weapons but can only manage to use them against their own population. We must understand that Assad or his generals would never do something stupid like a chemical strike because they have never done anything stupid. (The general was so dumb even the other generals noticed.)
It doesn’t matter. This conspiracy churn is beside the point. The West will support Assad while slapping him around from time to time. Meanwhile events on the ground in Syria will be recondite because there are NO independent reporters IN Syria.
we must also keep in mind the numerous times our leadership has lied to us about wmds in the middle east, the numerous times we have ginned up reasons to go to war (kuwaiti incubator babies!), and the lack of supporting evidence that this took place in the manner described.
Keeping in mind these things you mention are precisely why I don’t spend too much time parsing holes in the ground and sarin effects. When U.S. presidents bloviate about “crossing lines” everyone’s bullshit detector should be operating.
There is also the Gulf of Tonkin resolution for Vietnam, the “Remember the Maine” for the Spanish-American War.
There is no feedback system in place for correcting the official lies, the people pushing them are “patriotic” Americans, perhaps even worthy of a Medal of Freedom (George Tenet) or still accorded respect even when caught in a lie to congress (NSA’s James Clapper).
Even the New York Times columnists/reporters that provided some encouragement to go into Iraq keep their jobs (except for Judith Miller, who had to take the fall) while skeptical ones are removed (Chris Hedges)
The USA spends about $52.6 billion/year on the black budget http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/black-budget/
I would hope we’d get some accurate information for this kind of change.
Are the average citizens getting a positive ROI on this, while some citizens are paying with their lives or health in overseas operations?
The babies! Who could forget the babies?
You don’t have to accept anything. You can read the arguments for yourself. Postol, though, did manage to force the NYT to retract the “proof” regarding the rocket trajectories in the 2013 attack and he also was right about the Patriot missiles. He has a track record.
I agree that arguments about motives are not conclusive, but it was stupid for Assad to use chemical weapons at the precise moment when things were going entirely his way and it would make sense for Al Qaeda (not known for their humanitarian ideals) to use weapons “against their own people”.. Why is that phrase so easy to accept regarding Assad and so hard to accept regarding rebels? IMO, morally speaking, both sides were perfectly capable of murdering innocent people on either side if they thought it would help them.
As are we.
Does the motive argument prove anything? No. But we know very little for sure about Syria, other than a lot of innocent people have been murdered by all factions.
Assad did not do something stupid. It appears Doc Assad’s gambit worked, the POS. He deflected a possible large-scale US buildup in Syria by: a.) terrorizing his opponents, including Kurdish US allies, with an indiscriminate colorless, odorless gas that requires minimal battlefield preparation;
b.) sending Trump’s political base off the paranoid deep end with Iraq-wmd-redux. One of DJT’s more coherent foreign policy positions was that the Iraq war was the result of a bungling CIA adventure. And one thing Trump craves above all else is adulation, which is mutually exclusive of foreign interventions i.e. unpopular wars;
c.) Assad striking simultaneously with the ongoing Korean Peninsula crisis and testing, before a global audience, whether the US is willing to engage in a two-theater conflict.
except there isn’t any good evidence that assad “struck”, or that this is any more credible than the 2013 propaganda, which fell apart. i don’t really think assad wants to “test” the us when he is winning the war.
For Assad to remain alive, he needs to be useful to his benefactors, Russia and Iran. Not only is Assad’s back against the wall, his entire minority Alawite ethnic group is facing destruction. There is no where for them to go.
The evidence is that a single rather vintage Syrian aircraft flew over the area immediately before everyone started to keel over. I would speculate that there was a meeting of a rebel group[s] that day in Khan Shaykhun, but the Syrian Army couldn’t figure out the exact house in which the meeting was taking place. Poison gas [which is basically concentrated pesticide] would leave phones, laptops, and notebooks unscathed for collection afterward by loyalists disguised as first respond-ers.
i don’t believe that is “the evidence”. the evidence is the white helmets staged another propaganda event, one way or another. assad dragging the us and russia into a war when he is winning his own makes no sense.
Your assertion that “the evidence is the white helmets staged another propaganda event” confirms only that you don’t know what the word “evidence” means.
It’s been asked above, but bears reiterating: If rebel forces have Sarin gas, why would they only use them against civilians, and never against the forces defending Assad? Anyone who remains untroubled by that question has manifestly already made up their minds about the entirety of the conflict, without reference to standards of evidence or logic.
Because the gases only usefulness as a weapon is in drawing the US directly into the war.
An asinine assertion that could only be made by someone either entirely unfamiliar with, or willfully blind to, the nature of conflict involving conscripted armies and / or vulnerable civilian populations.
Also because a couple of liters of sarin is not going to be much good against a large military force. Even for sarin you’re going to need it to be a couple of tons, and then you have to be on the side the wind is coming from and you need to be sure your own troops have protective equipment in case the wind shifts. There are lots of reasons besides moral disapproval why no military has used poison gas since WWI.
More motive mongering, except yours makes even less sense. Postol might be wrong for all I know, but he argues about physics and chemistry.
You are speculating wildly about everyone’s motives, which is completely worthless.
Trying to understand the larger social forces at work, is all. But if morbid curiosity about instruments of death is helpful… the flattened metal tube in the crater is the same size as the 41.78mm diameter nose spike of BK-13 artillery projectile for the 122mm howitzer d-30. The shell could be modified by replacing the shape charge with an aerosol device then dropped from an aircraft with the piezoelectric fuse set to the lowest altitude. The tube being crushed by the mass of the 21.4 kg device. Science!
Ah, yes. Zombie Lies, lies which can be kept down, never killed off.
And the MCM didn’t even take a day to do any research, just ran with the US gov’t/administration narrative. Swallowed the Kool Aid, which doesn’t seem to do them any harm, but kills the ability of anyone doing some reading to believe them and their Zombie Lies.
As a general rule, US elites lie: it’s their default position. However, on this “gas” issue it’s largely beyond the point: Trump & CO didn’t care about the truth or not of the “gas” attacks. They knee-jerk reacted without anything approaching proper investigation. That itself is crime enough. Then there’s the various breaches of US law, international law & the UN charter. Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reality or not of the sarin attack is thus largely academic. Establishing that the attack WAS a false flag etc is important to the extent it is another clod of lies on the vast mountain of dirt which is the historical accumulation of US lies.
Byron’s not making much sense.
1. He assumes that Syrian Gov’t made the chemical attack, when the evidence is doubtful.
2. He repeats the tired sectarian line about “Alawites,” when by now it should be plain to any observer that the Syrian Gov’t would have fallen long ago, if it had depended on such a narrow base of support.
3. Byron fails to remember that Russian intervention in the war was reluctant and belated. He needs to review the sequence of events.
4. Byron fails to observe that the Syrian Gov’t and several other factions have recently been trying to de-escalate the war. There are many local ceasefires all over the country, prisoner and population exchanges are taking place, etc. The more diehard among the rebel factions want to interrupt these chains of events, and re-intensify the war. Viewed this way, both the attack on the transfer convoy, and the chemical event, might fit together as parts of an intelligent strategy of disruption.t
Democracy – War – Debt. The Unholy Trinity
Oligarchy – War – Debt. The Unholy Trinity.
Who is printing these “Idlib Health Directorate” shirts and why are they written in English?