Introduction by Publius Tacitus
Professor Emeritus Theodore A. Postol has produced an addendum to his original critique of the flawed and deceptive propaganda churned out by the Trump White House and presented as if it was intelligence. If you take time to read Professor Postol's thoughtful analysis, the fraud being perpetrated by the Trump team will become quite clear. Theodore Postol is Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is not some arm chair quarterback lacking in experience and judgment.
Let me give you the bottomline from his analysis–there is no credible evidence that the Government of Syria launched an aerial chemical weapons attack with Sarin on the people of Khan Shaykhun, Syria:
- First, nobody from the United States or Western Europe has been at the scene to collect forensic evidence because the area is under the control of radical jihadists (and that is a point originally raised by Pat Lang).
- Second, the photographic evidence the Trump White House has relied on to reach its conclusion that the Government of Syria was responsible for a sarin gas attack show clear signs of evidence tampering.
- Third, the device the Trump Administration points to as the culprit for the release of the alleged sarin is an artillery rocket that is not dropped from a plane.
Professor Postol deserves your time and attention. He speaks with reason and logic. These are qualities that appear to be strangers to Donald Trump and his coterie of sychophants.
This addendum is a follow-up to the report A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 about the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. The full “Quick Turnaround” was written on the evening of April 11 after a quick review of the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on the same day. This addendum provides data that unambiguously shows that the assumption in the WHR that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct. This egregious error raises questions about every other claim in the WHR.
As noted in the main body of my earlier report, 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 expert unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report.
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 White House intelligence report states that:
The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin. It also contains additional assertions that were key elements for underpinning its claim of a high confidence assessment:
- 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, that tells a clear and consistent story.
- 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.
- … observed munition remnants at the crater and staining around the impact point are consistent with a munition that functioned.
- Last November, for instance, senior Russian officials used an image from a widely publicized regime chemical weapons attack in 2013 on social media platforms to publicly allege chemical weapons use by the opposition.
The evidence that unambiguously shows that the assumption that the sarin release crater was tampered with is contained in six photographs. . . .
Figure 1 shows a man standing in the alleged sarin-release crater. He is wearing a honeycomb facemask that is designed to filter small particles from the air. Other apparel on him is an open necked cloth shirt and what appear to be medical exam gloves.
Two other men are standing in front of him (on the left in the photograph) also wearing honeycomb facemask’s and medical exam gloves.
If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin.
The fact that these people were dressed so inadequately either suggests a complete ignorance of the basic measures needed to protect an individual from sarin poisoning, or that they knew that the site was not seriously contaminated.
This is the crater that is the centerpiece evidence provided in the WHR for a sarin attack delivered by a Syrian aircraft.
Figure 2 shows the location of the crater on a Google Earth map of the Northeast part of Khan Sheikun. The white arrow labeled camera direction indicates the bore site of the camera when the photograph was taken. The white dot connected to a line shows the approximate location of the camera when the photo was taken. The direction the camera is looking is North Northeast.
Figure 3 shows a photograph of the same street and crater when it is unoccupied by people. This photograph is taken from a slightly greater distance away from the crater but the bore site of the camera is in the same direction – North Northeast.
Figure 4 shows the crater, probably shortly after the tampering occurred that is documented in Figure 1.
The camera bore site is downward into the crater and its azimuth is roughly East Northeast. Note that the surgical gloves that can be seen on the ground behind the man in the crater in Figure 1 can be seen almost unmoved in the photograph shown in Figure 4. This strongly suggests that the photograph was taken a relatively short time after the tampering occurred.
Figure 5 shows the crater at a time that may have been before the tampering occurred. The bottom of the crater looks rather different and the piece of pipe, which is clearly lying on top of the bottom of the crater in Figure 4, now appears to be partially buried. The photograph in Figure 5 is taken with the bore site of the camera looking roughly west.
Figure 6 shows a photograph of the crater, probably taken at about the same time as the photo in Figure 5, with the azimuth of the bore site of the camera looking Southwest.
Summary and Conclusions from the Data
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 photographs make it clear that the WHR made no serious attempt to collect data that would support its “confident assessment” that there was data to unambiguously support a conclusion that the Syrian government executed a sarin attack as indicated by the location and characteristics of the crater.
This does not appear to be a mistake.
It is hard for me to believe that anybody competent could have been involved in producing the WHR report and the implications of such an obviously predetermined result strongly suggests that this report was not motivated by a serious analysis of any kind.
This finding is disturbing. It indicates that the WHR was probably a report purely aimed at justifying actions that were not supported by any legitimate intelligence.
This is not a unique situation. President George W. Bush has argued that he was misinformed about unambiguous evidence that Iraq was hiding a substantial amount of weapons of mass destruction. This false intelligence led to a US attack on Iraq that started a process that ultimately led to a political disintegration in the Middle East, which through a series of unpredicted events then led to the rise of the Islamic State.
On August 30, 2013, the White House produced a similarly false report about the nerve agent attack on August 21, 2013 in Damascus. 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 a second incident similar to what happened in the Obama administration has now occurred in the Trump administration.
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.
Prior to these two inexplicable false intelligence reports, we had the incident in the Bush administration that led us to make decisions that we are still trying to deal with today.
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 seeking to force decisions that were not justified by the cited intelligence.
This is a serious matter and should not be allowed to continue.
Theodore A. PostoL
Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy Massachusetts Institute of Technology
So not only are they relying on surgical gloves to protect themselves from sarin, but it is obvious from those photos that they are removing those gloves and discarding them as soon as they climb out of the crater.
After all, the photos show five discarded gloves scattered not a metre from that crater.
Fake. Very, very definitely a fake.
“I therefore conclude that there needs to be a comprehensive investigation of these events that have either misled people in the White House…”
It is difficult to believe, that people of the intelligence required to gain positions at the white house, could be misled by the evidence that has been given. A quick viewing of photographic/video “evidence” immediately raises questions for anyone of average intelligence.
A thank you to Prof. Postol
There were even more photos from that crater which showed that some stuff (a cap from the alleged projectile head?)was removed from it. I am still not convinced though that the crater is at all related to the incident. It could be – it could also be a diversion. We do not yet know where the killed people actually died. I have so far seen no documented evidence of it. They could have been brought in to the videoed “aid stations” from about anywhere.
I wonder what “intelligence agency” came up with the White House nonsense if any did at all. My hunch is still that some NSC flunky or intern picked up some random stuff from various al-Qaeda aligned propaganda sites and put that into a paper.
The whole thing was obviously fake.
Assad said so too in an interview published yesterday. The main stream media will condemn him for it (and will not mention Postol). They will not admit that they were caught up in another lie.
Figure number 3. So that plain little dumb missile with exactly zero targeting gear just happens to land plumb in the middle of a long and very empty street and not in some area of high population density.
Very nice staging there.
Wonder if those gloves are the same as supplied to Turkey medics?
A photo here, commonly used in the CW attack narrative that has bugged me for some time.
An ‘underground’ hospital room. Perfectly square painted walls. Ceiling looking roughly hacked out. Would be dropping dust, small chunks ect on patients. Paper mache ceiling? Ghassan Aboud hospital stage prop?
A number of pics I have seen of underground rooms in Syria, they are nicely squared up. The perfect walls and exceptionally rough ceiling do not match.
Paper mache ceiling? Ghassan Aboud hospital stage prop?
Here’s a very articulate Assad in a video interview in English by SANA (sorry i cannot read the Arabic title) – interviewer has French accent but I’m guessung typical for the region.
YT time stamp is 13 April 2017
A very detailed analysis here, answering some of my questions about the time line and the propaganda road show afterwards.
wisedupearly, I asked a Turkish surgeon friend of mine about the gloves, she could ascertain only the color of the gloves as the ones they use extensively, in all medical facilities.
Ergo, the intelligence (cognitive development & skill sets) required to gain positions at the white house is, as has been evident for all too long, deliberately selected to be suited to a “plausable deniability” level.
Here i am not intending to be facetious. Rather, if we look at the level of underlying dynamics supporting this long term pattern of dysfunction, we can see that those who benefit from it most have baited their puppet head’s messianic arrogance. They leverage the self-assigned benighted blindness of law graduates who cannot do calculus, or even know what encryption means, or an otherwise capable executive manager of a billion dollar corporation like Exxon Mobile, that they are entitled to powre without having the slightest competence in working with any kind of empirical scientific method. Perhaps we could call it “outsourcing competence syndrome?”
Well, that someone like Bezos with his insec connections would publish a J Assange piece in Wapo indicates a certain conceit (concede) in lending fealty to an older classical construct of intelligence as that underlies power, and at least momentarily elevating it as superior to our upside-down status-quo political world that operates the other way around, privileging power over intelligence, even the lowest possible level of the latter.
That’s why, I propose, Americans and sympathizers around the world love the cast of bad guys paraded out by MSM to generate a twisted form of patriotic hatred (like Assange, Putin) who showcase their intelligence (and often eloquence even). They yearn for such true intelligence in domestic American governance, which they see as rewarding an utter lack of it.
But if this turns out to be the snare that closes around Potus’s feet to trip him up, with this level of gross incompetence, imo, it starts to look like an inside job. But in such a case, which faction (or combination thereof) still remains a tangled mystery to unravel, what with Cheney’s endorsement of HRC, an intel mole dumping to WLeaks, 9-11 civil lawsuits angling to appear on the horizon, etc.
as always you supply complex and detailed analysis of information that would probably be available to the President for decision making,
but one question remains, as yet, unanswered,
can the President actually read?!
I know the video’s presenter is a little snarky about Don but it did set a train of thought in motion for me,
from my experience of my older brother, who today would probably be considered dyslexic, and numerous friends, colleagues and customers, amongst males impaired or virtually non existent literacy is not uncommon,
I as a voracious reader am often accused of having ‘swallowed a dictionary’ by the less literate, most probably due to encountering a wider vocabulary through reading,
Don’s verbal style aka ‘word salad’ his vagueness, flip flopping, generalisations and muddled usage of common terms and phrases does cause consternation when seen in isolation, add a literacy impairment to the picture and it makes more sense,
a common device used by groups of concerned citizens approaching their President is ‘The Open Letter’
in the circumstances this could be a futile gesture,
in trying to sway the President to a different view a video presentation with plenty of brightly coloured graphics, clear dialogue and some soothing music might actually get through,
on another subject, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the credibility of the reporting on Veterans Today website, I’m not sure what level to set my credulity filters at!
To assume a fake is not a bad analysis of what you see.
As Mr. Postol posted very well (emphasise is mine):
Quite true IMO. It is important in the accusations made against Assad (and pictures taken by rebels or aiders to proove it) to keep in mind that:
* Sarin poisons when just breathed or when absorbed through the skin.
* Small quantities are sufficient for lethality or poisoning.
It is basic knowledge that unprotected skin – as without gloves, onprotected arms or necks etc. – risks poisoning in face of substances like Sarin.
We were hammered with the basic rule in the NBC recce course I went through in the Bundeswehr twenty years ago: ‘NEVER EVER BE UNPROTECTED IN A C WEAPONS SITUATION!’
Lightly dressed as the helpers/investigators/actors are on the pics they are either dumb as shit, sickly courageous, ill trained or untrained, keen of suicide, or, well, they knew they were in a harmless place and just playing a role for photos of a gas incident investigation (which accidentally finds Assad to be guilty).
The pics of the rocket, as much as the pics of the mysteriously invulnerable and unprotected … err … of course just very well protected and utterly objective investigators … they stink rotten.
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.
Thanks for the reminder! It was good to re-read that interview.
The Atlantic article is at this link:
Obama managed to buck the Washington establishment; Trump didn’t last 100 days.
Some lines from the article:
“Obama generally believes that the Washington foreign-policy establishment, which he secretly disdains, makes a fetish of “credibility”—particularly the sort of credibility purchased with force. The preservation of credibility, he says, led to Vietnam. Within the White House, Obama would argue that “dropping bombs on someone to prove that you’re willing to drop bombs on someone is just about the worst reason to use force.”
“American national-security credibility, as it is conventionally understood in the Pentagon, the State Department, and the cluster of think tanks headquartered within walking distance of the White House, is an intangible yet potent force—one that, when properly nurtured, keeps America’s friends feeling secure and keeps the international order stable.”
“While the Pentagon and the White House’s national-security apparatuses were still moving toward war (John Kerry told me he was expecting a strike the day after his speech), the president had come to believe that he was walking into a trap—one laid both by allies and by adversaries, and by conventional expectations of what an American president is supposed to do.”
“The moment Obama decided not to enforce his red line and bomb Syria, he broke with what he calls, derisively, “the Washington playbook.” This was his liberation day.”
“Obama understands that the decision he made to step back from air strikes, and to allow the violation of a red line he himself had drawn to go unpunished, will be interrogated mercilessly by historians. But today that decision is a source of deep satisfaction for him.
“Where am I controversial? When it comes to the use of military power,” he said. “That is the source of the controversy. There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow. It’s a playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses. Where America is directly threatened, the playbook works. But the playbook can also be a trap that can lead to bad decisions. In the midst of an international challenge like Syria, you get judged harshly if you don’t follow the playbook, even if there are good reasons why it does not apply.”
“Right after Obama’s reversal, Hillary Clinton said privately, “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice.””
Did the average Syrian Army soldier train for CW? I assume yes.
Gareth Porter makes the case for possible phosphine release from the targeted warehouses and responsibility for at least some of the victims in this article at Truthout :
You have to check his link-outs to get a good feel for the whole story. Also , see my comment at same at 9:25 AM on 4/14/17 for some more info on phosphine – use in IEDs , etc.
The picture is consistent with a large underground cavern divided up by partition walls constructed of studs and drywall or plywood. The patients might very well be actors on a stage, but I see nothing all that unconvincing with respect to the stage.
That’s not offered in defense of anything. I am as convinced as anyone here that the “sarin gas attack” is entirely false.
Here’s an illuminating amateur deconstruction of the imagery from a creative YT site:
Former Nato chief plays down World War Three talk: ‘Putin knows his force is no match for Trump’s’
Read more at http://talkradio.co.uk/news/former-nato-chief-plays-down-world-war-three-talk-putin-knows-his-force-no-match-trumps#TsTd3v8Rw3AY1e8v.99
Brettin-Gordon states in the above interview that it would have required “hundreds of kilograms” of Sarin to cause the alleged casualties. The rocket fragment in the road is only large enough to hold about 10 liters tops (less than 11 kilograms of Sarin).
Or, the casualties are far less than alleged. The exact number has not been verified by independent observers as far as I know.
Does any one know, once Sarin is exposed to air does it start to break down? If so how long would a site remain lethal? Minutes, hours, days … ?
Apologies for posting same sentence twice in my post.
Bill H. Look closely at the wall to ceiling joint. It is far to neat. Not a touch of grout/plaster nor paint on the supposedly cave/dugout roof.
Paper mache or similar has been brought down over an existing wall.
This is what bugged me for some time about this scene without being able to put a finger on it.
To make a wall to ceiling joint like that in an existing cave takes care, patience and talent. It as something that may be done as an architectural feature or similar.
It does not fit with a hastily constructed hospital where the time has not been taken to square and line the ceiling.
Sarin is volatile so when exposed to air it evaporates , I’d guess faster than water but slower than acetone. If the wind blows hard , and you’re only slightly downwind of the upwind edge of the gas cloud , you might simply close your eyes and stop breathing for 10 or 20 seconds and the cloud would be past you.You’d want to get out of your clothes and get washed down , nonetheless. High exposure will do you in fast , but even tiny exposure over a long time is dangerous.
The cloud will be toxic until it dissipates , and will be less and less toxic as it dissipates. If you look at the videos of the gas clouds from the main bombing runs ( around noon ) , the mushroom clouds shoot straight up , but still a heavy ground-level haze over a huge area remained for quite a while. That’s all about wind and weather. I don’t think we’re sure what was in those main gas clouds yet , but if it had been mainly sarin , there’d have been thousands of deaths , I’m sure.
Agree. The cave came into existence later than the hospital walls in it 🙂
Amateurishly done stage work. Netting wire, glued paper and lots of gypsum; a touch of black and white color mashed into various scales of grey.
Any decent model railroad builder uses those props but will create more plausible scenes.
Depends on quality, chemical additives, concentration, temperature, wind, humidity, sun …
In general even military grade Sarin has a relative short time frame. After a day less than 10% should be left active. But that that depends very much on many influences – see above.
You might that info on Wikipedia
I think it’s in the middle of the street because it came out of the back of a vehicle.
In the video you can see two different men in the crater, pulling samples out of the ground:
By doing that they are disturbing the earth, which should cause small but lethal amounts of Sarin to be released, if there really was any. Their clothes would offer very little protection against any toxic substance. And the lower arms (near the wrists) of both of them even appear to be directly exposed as they reach down into the hole (see the arm of one man at at 0:03 and again at 0:44, and of the other man from 0:09 onwards).
Two other men can also be seen standing next to the hole wearing only sandles on their feet (at 0:53).