" To the dismay of many senior members of his national security team, Trump could not be swayed over the next 48 hours of intense briefings and decision-making. In a series of interviews, I learned of the total disconnect between the president and many of his military advisers and intelligence officials, as well as officers on the ground in the region who had an entirely different understanding of the nature of Syria’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun. I was provided with evidence of that disconnect, in the form of transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4. In an important pre-strike process known as deconfliction, U.S. and Russian officers routinely supply one another with advance details of planned flight paths and target coordinates, to ensure that there is no risk of collision or accidental encounter (the Russians speak on behalf of the Syrian military). This information is supplied daily to the American AWACS surveillance planes that monitor the flights once airborne. Deconfliction’s success and importance can be measured by the fact that there has yet to be one collision, or even a near miss, among the high-powered supersonic American, Allied, Russian and Syrian fighter bombers." Hersh
Speaks for itself. pl
Please, read the entire article to get a good image of the problem we face. We have admit that our system of politics is no longer dependable in terms of producing the leaders we need.
“The intelligence made clear that a Syrian Air Force SU-24 fighter bomber had used a conventional weapon to hit its target: There had been no chemical warhead. And yet it was impossible for the experts to persuade the president of this once he had made up his mind. “The president saw the photographs of poisoned little girls and said it was an Assad atrocity,” the senior adviser said. “It’s typical of human nature. You jump to the conclusion you want. Intelligence analysts do not argue with a president. They’re not going to tell the president, ‘if you interpret the data this way, I quit.’”
Trump’s failure is far worse than interpreting data wrongly. He saw a chance to show Obama up and enhance his own glory.
Published alongside the main article is this transcript of a conversation provided to Hersh.
Fascinating read. Thanks for the link.
The American Conservative gives a summary of the arming of the opposition in Syria: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-america-armed-terrorists-in-syria/
It is revealing that Seymour Hersh, an established, prominent, well-regarded and credible journalist, now gets his investigations on Syria published in European magazines.
It was already the case for his famous articles “Whose Sarin?” (London Review of Books 35(24), 2013-12-19), “The Red Line and the Rat Line” (LRB 36(8), 2014-04-17), and “Military to Military” (LRB 38(1), 2016-01-07). And now this one in die Welt.
The clamping-down on anything that does not fit the dominant ideological narrative in the USA must be truly implacable for him to have switched from the New Yorker to British and German outlets.
Yes, the Borg is successfully trying todeny him access to the public square. pl
Were the Trump administration to go fix intelligence around policy like the Bush II administration, do you think the stovepipers are more likely to congregate at the DOD (a la OSP) or NSC? And around whom would they coalesce?
I do no understand your comment. What are “stovpipers? pl
The back and forth over 3 days between an unnamed Security Advisor and an unnamed Active Duty American soldier over there is well worth a read to see what people on ground think about the Russian capabilities and response. See the got a problem link above.
At first blush one might think that The Borg is trying to set Trump up to take the hit for their mistake or malfeasance. However, given The Borg’s known and long-standing hostility to Hersh, and given his wide and thorough sourcing, that suggestion doesn’t wash. All I can say is Holy S**t!
My sense of this situation is that Trump was facing a political trap created by the Borg. The events at Khan Sheikhoun were exactly as the Russians said they were, right from the beginning. Trump was made aware of this. However, the Borg was prepared to spring the trap based on that reality.
Had Trump repeated what the Russians said and, based on that, announced that he’d take no action, in the midst of the emotional jihadist/white helmet propaganda films showing dead children, then the Borg would have used that agreement as evidence that Trump is, indeed, in collusion with Russia. On top of all of the “investigations” into allegations of collusion, that might have been the final straw for the Trump presidency.
So Trump made a somewhat savvy political decision. He’d react by condemning Assad’s use of poison gas [albeit a known false narrative] and firing a few missiles at some backwater air station after giving the Russians a heads-up and time to evacuate personnel, ordnance and equipment of any value.
The Borg reacted to Trump’s “decisiveness” exactly as Trump calculated they would. As long as the Russians understand the US political environment and how it forced Trump’s hand in this instance, perhaps freeing him to be a better partner with Russia when it counts down the road, things should work out ok.
At least, IMO, that is a reasonable alternative to the Trump is a criminal blockhead who doesn’t listen to intelligence theory.
The likes of Bill Luti, Adam Shulsky and others at OSP. An alternative facts analytic shop.
I am sorry to see that the ‘London Review of Books’ has chosen to tarnish what has been, in recent years, a generally rather distinguished record.
From the explanation by ‘Die Welt’ of how they came to publish the article:
‘Hersh had also offered the article to the London Review of Books. The editors accepted it, paid for it, and prepared a fact checked article for publication, but decided against doing so, as they told Hersh, because of concerns that the magazine would vulnerable to criticism for seeming to take the view of the Syrian and Russian governments when it came to the April 4th bombing in Khan Sheikhoun.’
(See https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165906452/The-Fog-of-War.html .)
These people in the WH and the Trump Administration generally accomplish the same things by agreeing with each other whatever the facts may indicate. pl
Although I don’t doubt that Hersh is reporting accurately what his sources have told him, their version of what happened on the ground in Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April doesn’t completely make sense.
Hersh reports that a single guided 500 lb bomb was dropped on the target – a two-storey building on the northern edge of town that was being used as a jihadi command centre – at 6.55 am, and that this caused secondary explosions releasing a toxic cloud formed by “fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement”.
The videos have been reviewed in detail by Adam Larson on ACLoS and on his libyancivilwar.blogspot.com site. They show three smoke plumes, each located to a site at which ground photos and before/after satellite images show bomb damage. Two of these sites are on the northern edge of town and could match Hersh’s description of the target. They are between 200 metres and 400 metres southwest of the crater in the road that was alleged to be the impact site of a sarin munition.
The videos also show a fog spreading over the town from two different sources, neither of which are near the sites of bomb damage. The continuous release of this fog over at least 20 minutes suggests that something like smoke machines were being used.
The secondary explosion hypothesis doesn’t match the video evidence, doesn’t explain the positive tests for sarin, doesn’t explain the large number of deaths, and can’t explain fatalities among victims who were supposedly upwind of the impact site.
The hypothesis that best explains the video and forensic evidence is that this was a managed massacre of captives, using small quantities of sarin to generate forensic evidence and that the fog (possibly containing something noxious) was generated as a special effect together with the crater in the road. The captives were most likely killed at the quarry/cave complex at about 7 am, then redistributed around hospitals and morgues.
All this had to be prepared in advance: the jihadis had to have captives held nearby,
smoke machines in position, medical facilities under their control, one or two actors prepared to play the part of bereaved parents, cameramen and video editing suites in readiness. For this they would have needed advance warning of the airstrike.
Hersh says that the notification of the strike was provided by the Russians “days in advance … to American and allied military officials in Doha”. Later he says “I was told that the Russians passed the warning directly to the CIA”. So not only the US military, but “allied military officials” or the CIA could have passed on a warning to the jihadis that there would be an air strike on this target. They may not have realized that this warning would be used to prepare another Ghouta-type false flag massacre.
It’s possible that the jihadis chose Khan Sheikhoun as the site of this operation, then fed the R+6 with information that would draw an airstrike on the town. Hersh hints that the US tipped off the Russians that the site was a jihadi command and control facility: ”When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility,” the adviser added, referring to the target in Khan Sheikhoun, “we do what we can to help them act on it.””
It’s puzzling that Hersh’s sources are still fixed on the secondary explosion hypothesis when it can so easily be debunked. They may be reluctant to contemplate what a pre-planned massacre implies: that the intelligence sharing and deconfliction arrangements described by Hersh have been exploited by the jihadis and their foreign allies.
It is not a “theory” it is a fact. Trump would not listen to the intel. The folks on the frontlines could not understand why he was insisting Sarin had been used when they knew that was not the case.
The significance of the article is not who Trump does NOT take advice from, but who he does.
The article states that Trump does not read anything. He only watches Fox News. Rupert Murdoch is directing the Executive branch of the government. The Borg wants minority rule. Now, that’s real minority rule.
Of course, this “we begged him not to do it” business apotheosizes the CIA and the military. Their track record is not quite divine, so this too must be taken with a grain of salt. I guess the fundamental point is that no one in the United States should give a damn about what happens in Syria. The Russians should and do. That is will prove determinative.
Trumps bombing of Syria was welcomed by many among the electorate as well as by members of his own political party.
I come back to the words of Rosalyn Carter – that American people prefer war to peace – and should think she knows the minds of her fellow-country-men better than I do.
US is reported to have spent $ 500 million to equip illegal fighters to wage war against the legitimate authority in Syria; all the while such cities as Flint were suffering undrinkable water; with nary a peep out of the electorate.
In England, I suspect, there would at least have been a call for a vote of confidence in the parliament.
If the story is true, then, obviously, Trump did not “listen” to the intel and it is not a theory. I have to agree with that.
However, what I am addressing is *why* he didn’t “listen” to the intel.
The part about Trump being an incurious – or perhaps somewhat insane – blockhead remains in the realm of theory.
I am proposing that he may have heard the intel just fine and then elected to take contrary action for political reasons. I know leaders of big divisions within big corporations that listen to various, often competing, inputs and then make a decision and, once that decision is made, a narrative is issued and all inputs that would seem to indicate a different course of action are silenced; totally down the memory hole.
Early in my corporate career I had provided requested input to a much higher up that I thought (and still do upon reflection) was highly relevant and significant to the decision that was being made. At the end of the day, leadership settled on a course of action that failed to assimilate the input I had submitted. It was like it wasn’t listened to. I felt compelled to reiterate my concern and state that there should be a plan ‘B’ in case what I had offered came to pass. btw, this would be the military equivalent of a butter bar offering somewhat unsolicited advice to a full bird colonel, though other aspects of my participation at this point had been requested. I’ll never forget the response. It was the first time I experienced such a reaction, but certainly not the last.
This man stared at me in a most penetrating way and with a stone face and, basically, robotically issued a proclamation on the nature of reality – and that reality didn’t include my ideas despite those ideas being based on solid data and analysis. “A challenge arose because of ‘X’ [false attribution, based on my shop’s analysis]. The company now has only options A and B [my analysis showed that there were also good options C and D]. We are moving forward with option A because it will provide the most opportunity for the company to become profitable again in the market [my shop had presented ample evidence that option A was the worst choice]. We will be profitable again by third quarter next year [totally unsupported opinion and blind faith, IMO]”. And this then became the message repeated without exception by all of the higher-ups. It is a style that is often used in the corporate world. Not saying it’s a good style, just that it exists.
I know that was a lengthy response and I hope it didn’t come off as too much gibberish to get to a point. I just think it is reasonable that Trump was employing that style, which I have seen enough to be accustomed to it.
Re the second link. Do many people recall or record a casual conversation that took place over three days word for word? Seems a bit odd.
My understanding is that the actual strike took place southwest of Khan Sheikoun. I think you are right–someone who had access to the info the Russians shared with the US days before the strike was passed to the Islamists (they did not know the precise locations of the strike) and they were able to stage a mass casualty event.
From the conversation:
“The Russian air defense system is capable of taking out our TLAMs”
I guess Trump would not listen if someone was to tell him that either.
Emad, you should read all four articles linked above. It’s a great collection, not least the glimpse of the exchange between adviser and soldier; sounds pretty real to me. If not then at least the first.
Apparently Hersh doesn’t seem to have found evidence about stove-pipers in whatever he could find out about the US attack. Adding to what has been interpreted by many others before, including some here.
Interesting is Hersh’s short summary of the quite possibly semi-informed senior official briefing media post ‘mission accomplished’. Or his aside on the media which ignored every little verbal trace of hesitations present in the briefing.
We all remain more or less connected to earlier assumption, till disproved, I guess. I for instance, admittedly was a bit hesitant to trust Trump’s new approach to Russia. … considering the larger context of his campaign …
That’s why for me, I obviously cannot check, this passage sticked out for me:
The president was also initially opposed to the idea of giving the Russians advance warning before the strike, but reluctantly accepted it.
This whole deliberate cacophony in DC could be a prelude to a major false flag somewhere, whereby no one would be made responsible or unswerable, since Potus is out of wack, and his admin is in tatters on every level…?
As John Maynard Keynes remarked of President Wilson ” it was harder to de-bamboozle this old Presbyterian than it had been to bamboozle him;”
The LRB’s behavior was indeed disheartening. This anti-Russian hysteria has even effected them.
Morongobill – I didn’t believe the official Khan Shaykun story when I first saw it on the BBC. It didn’t ring true and there hadn’t been enough time to check the details out properly before the BBC went with it. I think that was the case with the US media as well. I’ve also followed as far as I am able the analysis of various aspects of the official story on the Colonel’s site and still believe that that official Khan Shaykun story was fake.
Nevertheless I’d be uneasy to see the transcript you refer to used as exhibit A of the rebuttal. There are discontinuities of style and focus throughout the transcript as given to us. As here:-
” We are likely to get our asses kicked by the Russians. Fucking dangerous. Where are the godamn adults? The failure of the chain of command to tell the President the truth, whether he wants to hear it or not, will go down in history as one of our worst moments.”
Do people switch from urgent colloquial to measured statement like that in such a situation? I’m not qualified to say because I don’t have the relevant background, but many similarly unqualified people would dismiss the transcript on the grounds of such discontinuities alone. In fact no one I have shown the transcript to has found it convincing for just that reason. I’d prefer to see a more secure provenance for the transcript before seeing it put forward as evidence or part of the evidence.
On another point there are suggestions, in this case and in others,(*) of collusion between NATO countries and the Jihadis in such incidents. I would ask 1, is this ever substantiated and 2, if so, does that collusion merely involve making use of the incident for PR purposes or does it extend to some degree of collusion in setting the incident up?
* for example Lueder’s ZDF interview 5th April 2017 (from 14 mins). I have no transcript of this interview but Lueders is strongly suggesting Turkish collusion in the Ghouta incident:-
Here’s a little development on Sy Hersh’s article. I just googled ‘symour hersh news’ and the top hit and featured article was to Bellingcat denouncing Hersh and his article. An hour ago that was the only hit but now the Welt piece is number 3.
Having served in the Army and the lower rungs of the federal technocracy, Sy Hersh’s reporting rings true. The conversation between the American soldier and security advisor also if it is an edited sigint intercept.
The USA arms Islamists to destabilize Syria at the same time as it is trying to defeat the Islamic State. The Cold War with Russia has restarted. The President gets his information from Fox News and cannot be swayed by the facts or alternatively he doesn’t trust the intelligence community since it and the media are trying to force him to resign. None of this reported by corporate media.
This all started with the end of conscription and throwing working America under the bus. To fight the wars the Atlantic Alliance has had to rely on volunteers, contractors and proxy Islamist and neo-Nazi forces. What is best for the nations’ citizens is of no concern.
It is frightening. America has devolved into a society that grabs anything that feeds its addictions and is reverting to its tribal myths. Rich western nationalists and globalists are fighting each other over who controls the looting. Politicians are divorced from reality and serve only their paymasters.
I can see why the Kremlin is trying to do an intervention. The problem is when the American Empire hits the bottom it is likely to take out the rest of mankind rather than cure itself.
In the heading to the article WELT refers to it as a “chat protocol”.
I don’t know what this means exactly. Could it be that the conversation
was pieced together from a series of instant messages? If that is the case then what seems like rather stilted language may be the result of
interpolation by the editors at WELT, or by Hersh himself.
The level of your conceit is impressive. pl
While Hersh’s main article smells and feels right to me, I have to admit this “conversation” doesn’t. It would help if we knew what was meant by “a solder” and a “Security-Adviser”. For the former at least rank would help. For the later are we talking some one in the WH, some one in the NSC or some one in a think tank?
Some of the conversation feels made up to me to spin a story real or imagined.
These two lines in particular don’t ring true to me.
“AS: I guess it really didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump. Fuck.
AS: No one is talking about the entire reason we’re in Iraq and Syria in the first place. That mission is fucked now. ”
It isn’t that I can’t imagine two people having that conversation. It has been had 1000 times here. I have a much harder time seeing two active service members having that conversation over a recorded channel in the course of carrying out their duties. I would appreciate it if some one with real IC experience could give their opinion.
“Stovepiping (also stove piping) is a metaphorical term which recalls a stovepipe’s function as an isolated vertical conduit, and has been used, in the context of intelligence, to describe several ways in which raw intelligence information may be presented without proper context. It is a system created to solve a specific problem. The lack of context may be due to the specialized nature, or security requirements, of a particular intelligence collection technology. It also has limited focus and data within is not easily shared. Alternatively, the lack of context may come from a particular group, in the national policy structure, selectively presenting only that information that supports certain conclusions. The term is typically used in the health care system. An example would be how money funded for research is not evenly allocated, but instead goes toward one specific ailment remedy.”
So in effect Trump is now seen as the complete puppet. All you need is some PR scary “photos” and the suggestion that he (Trump) would be just like Obama if he does not do whatever you want.
“this “conversation” doesn’t.” I agree. The unrelenting vulgarity in itself is inauthentic to what a conversation between a senior officer and a SA would be like. pl
As noted above, CW attack was most likely pre filmed at anther location prior to the strike with the purpose of trying to get the US coalition to attack Syria.
Defused with a cruise missile fireworks display that achieved nothing other than gaining Tillerson a meeting with Putin, and Lavrov a meeting with Trump. Even then Trump was accused of passing classified secrets to the “Russians”.
Just fools luck or Trump aware from the instant it happened that the CW attack was a false flag? Whichever, the cruise missile strike instantly destroyed the purpose of the false flag attack.
The Borg is determined to bury all “sane people” as well.
Entered the search words “Pat Lang Sic Semper Tyrannis Syria” into goggle news and none of the articles here show up.
What is shown are references to here by other sites.
Maybe we need more people to access this site through google.
Would the sheer number of views force the Borg to acknowledge this reality?
Seymour Hersh again
Basically a neocon structure that selected raw intel of dubious provenance (aka Curveball) that supported the neocon lie of Iraq WMD and passed it directly to Bolton and the WH without the usual validation. They knew that Bush wanted “proof of WMD” to justify they stovepiped him and Judith Miller.
Stovepipes are useless with Trump. All you need are whitehat videos of crying children.
Sure. Maybe a little for now. However, he got a little breathing room. A chance to regroup. That’s better than getting impeached by Borgists from both houses in the midst of Russian collusion media campaign hysteria. The next guy would understand that he is intended to dance the Borg’s strings and he’d be dancing away on day one.
One would certainly hope that the Russians were made to understand what was done and why.
That’s an excellent break-down of the scenario as it played out in April, and I largely agree.
What I find most stunning, is the absolute control the Borg has in deploying the mainstream media purveyors to deliver their version of events. How is it that they can enforce a COMPLETELY uniform narrative across virtually ALL of the dissemination channels, spanning continents, nations, languages.. etc.?
How can we explain the exclusion of any dissenting opinions on such matters?
I wonder what AIPAC, or any of their tentacles in the UK, held over the heads of the editors at the LRB?
I think Hersh has done a disservice by accepting what he was told at face value. We are led to believe that Trump is simply unfit for office. Yet Trump’s missile attack went against Trump’s own advice to Obama in 2013 (he tweeted that Obama should NOT bomb Syria) as well as Trump’s ‘America First’ campaign promises.
The explanation offered by Hersh (or Hersh’s source) for Trump’s stubborn determination to bomb is essentially that Trump is inexperienced and temperamentally unfit for the office. This conveniently plays into MSM narratives as well as Nixonian madman theory. These, together, make Trump into something of a blunt instrument that can be discarded when he goes too far.
In particular, Hersh ignores the statement: “… I guess it didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.” This statement raises a host of questions that bear greater scrutiny: Is Trump a faux populist like Obama was? Did Trump PLAN to bomb Syria all along? Was the 2016 election completely rigged (Sanders as Clinton sheepdog, Trump as Clinton protege)?
The denunciation by Belling Cat indicates it’s likely accuracy.
Chat is a cross between real-time conversational email and texting, typically conducted on a terminal not cell-phone. Because it takes a while to type a sentence, exchanges are normally more telegraphic than phone conversations. I thought this was a phone conversation at first, and so didn’t like it because it was too on-the-nose; but it totally flows as a chat conversation.
Not pieced together; bidirectional text conversation scrolls in real time as you type. But, like this blog, you have to be succinct, plus clear w emotions. Other person is sitting on other side watching you type, waiting for you to finish your thought. Channel determines style.
Typed chat conversations are routinely recorded, even in the business support arena, “for training purposes” [= security].
Agree that the real news is how did the White Helmets learn about the strike far enough ahead of time so as to prepare an effective false-flag presentation? And how did Haley pick up on it so fast?
ToivoS, the Bellingcat “rebuttal” of Hersh’s article is an outrageous example of misdirection.
Higgins goes into some length summarizing what Hersh is reporting from his American sources, but then his “rebuttal” begins thus: “At this point it’s worth taking a look at the claims the Syrian and Russian governments made”…
The central issue in Hersh’s article isn’t what the Syrians and Russians were saying When The Shit First Hit The Fan, but is instead about what Hersh’s AMERICAN sources are telling him now.
Example: Hersh’s AMERICAN sources tell him that they were informed before the event that the Syrians were going to bomb this place, why they wanted to bomb it, and how they intended to blow it to smithereens.
Now, is that true? Or is that a fiction?
Example: Hersh’s AMERICAN sources tell him that a USAF Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) was prepared after the attack, and that assessment determined that a 500lb HE bomb was dropped on that building.
Now, is that true? Or is that a fiction?
In both cases the answer is the same: Higgins simply doesn’t want to go there.
He doesn’t want to ask, because he has a vested interest in not knowing the answer.
It’s always been about securing the Israeli “flank” by neutralizing Syria, isolating Hezbollah before bombing Iran.
Here is the opinion of someone in the movie business, this sounds like a pre ordered screenplay of an infamous event, trying to pack up as much information and background story into a dialogue. It is very convoluted, and it is noticeable that the parties are not responding to each other, but addressing the audience.
Can you clarify your statement about a strike southwest of Khan Sheikhoun? The three smoke plumes are all located in the town. It’s possible of course that these were produced by IEDs on the ground, as there is no video evidence of an aircraft. The alleged flight track of a Syrian jet provided by the US shows it passing south of the town at this time. The only air strike that all sources (R+6, images, opposition) agree on is the one at about noon on the quarry / cave complex at the eastern edge of town.
Don’t use Google. Use DuckDuckGo.com – no search filtering at all.
“How is it that they can enforce a COMPLETELY uniform narrative across virtually ALL of the dissemination channels, spanning continents, nations, languages.. etc.?”
Very easy. Just *own* all the media. Are you aware that about 95% of our MSM in the West is owned by a handful of giant corporations? That makes it a lot easier to control the narrative.
The tomahawks were launched from ships.they then flew past the Russia armada and hit a target.a few years ago under Obama the same thing occurred except Russia brought the tlam,s down.
What has changed?.
Our Pentagon, claims to have captured via SIGINT, radio communication between the pilot and ground control confirming the chemical WMD narrative. While people can criticize this Hersh story, why hasn’t the Administration released a printed transcript of this communication, why hasn’t our MSM pressed them to do this?
The standard answer is, ‘we don’t want to divulge our methods’, but a printed transcript wouldn’t give that away like a recording might and we have already announced that we have captured it, so what is gained by saying that we have it but not releasing the printed text?
The fact that the MSM is totally disinterested in questions like this, and people like Hersh are marginalized tells me that it will be a miracle if something really bad doesn’t happen. It’s just a matter of time.
I agree that there is a distinctly ‘fishy’ smell about this conversation.
‘does that collusion merely involve making use of the incident for PR purposes or does it extend to some degree of collusion in setting the incident up?’
That is, I think, a $60,000 question.
Of particular interest here is the incident at Saraqeb on 29 April 2013, for a number of reasons.
One is that it puts centre stage the role of a former leading British Army CBRN expert, Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, both in retrieving samples and providing ‘StratCom’ against the Syrian government, and also of his collaboration with journalists from the ‘Times’ (Anthony Lloyd) and, more particularly, the BBC (Ian Pannell.)
On this, there is a mass of further material on the pages entitled ‘Talk: British involvement in Syria’ on the ‘A Closer Look On Syria’ site.
(See http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:British_involvement_in_Syria .)
This in turn bears upon a key problem with claims by Western officials about the Khan Sheikhun incident, which has been put into a wholly new context by the account given by his sources to Hersh.
In the first of my two open letters to the members of the Commons Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees, which was posted on SST by Colonel Lang on 14 April, I pointed to an ambiguity already apparent in the ‘sarin’ or ‘sarin like’ formulation, which had been first introduced by our Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, the previous day.
(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/habakkuk-on-urgent-need-to-release-test-results-from-porton-down-on-samples-from-khan-sheikhoun-ghouta.html .)
As I noted, if the test results referred to were on ‘environmental’ samples, and the lab only had ‘degradation products’ to work from, it would be perfectly possible for it to be unclear whether sarin, or some other organophosphate, was at issue. If that was the reason for the ambivalence, however, both Rycroft and other British officials would have had no grounds whatsoever for going to suggest that it was sarin that was at issue and it incriminated Assad.
In relation to ‘physiological’ samples, the position has turned out to be more complex than I first thought. It had seemed the case that tests on these would definitively establish whether sarin or some other organophosphate was at issue.
However, there are two sets of circumstances in which this may not be so.
The ‘sarin or sarin-like’ formulation had been used by the OPCW in relation to tests on samples from Syrian soldiers in connection with the incident at Darayya in February 2015. In this case, however, it referred to the impossibility of establishing whether the substance at issue was sarin or chlorosarin. As the latter is just as difficult to produce and the former, but less toxic, in practical terms we are simply dealing with a quibble.
There are, however, apparently, circumstances in which there could be a more significant ambiguity in relation to blood tests.
What however Hersh’s account is suggesting is that the use of the formulation in describing symptoms of victims from Khan Sheikhun is compatible alike with sarin or the results of an inadvertent release of organophosphate-based fertiliser or insecticide. And, it is suggested, it was well-known throughout the American ‘intelligence community’ right from the start that it was the latter which was responsible for the casualties.
However, in the ‘National Evaluation’ which they released on 26 April, the French government claimed 1. that their own tests had identified sarin, and 2. that they were able to establish that it came from Syrian government stocks because it matched the contents of an – intact – grenade retrieved from Saraqeb. The decisive element in proving that in both cases the sarin came from Syrian government stocks was said to be the presence of hexamine.
(See http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/170425_-_evaluation_nationale_-_anglais_-_final_cle0dbf47-1.pdf .)
At this point we come back to Colonel de Bretton-Gordon, in that, as the ‘ACLOS’ pages to which I have linked bring out, it seems likely that he was responsible for retrieving the ‘environmental’ samples from Saraqeb tested in France, as well as those tested in Britain. (It also seems quite likely he was involved in retrieving those from Khan Sheikhun.)
Moreover, when the ‘Technical Secretariat’ of the OPCW reported on 12 May on the results from ‘Designated Laboratories’ on both ‘physiological’ and ‘environmental’ samples from Khan Sheikhun, we were told that has been unambiguously identified by both as having been present in the sample of soil taken from the crater which we were told was where the munition hit. Moreover, hexamine is featured prominently in the accounts of what was found in the ‘environmental’ samples.
In relation to blood and biomedical samples from victims, the ‘sarin or sarin-like’ formula is used time and again.
(See http://undocs.org/S/2017/440 .)
If the claims made by Hersh’s sources are correct, then we have the strongest possible evidence that the test results from both ‘Designated Laboratories’, and also the French laboratory, on ‘environmental’ samples, were on samples that were fabricated.
Moreover, we have a glaring question as to why the information possessed by American intelligence agencies was not released to the OPCW, and to the French and British, before both those country’s governments made complete fools of themselves by suggesting that test results unambiguously implicated the Syrian government, when quite patently they did not.
What however further complicates an already very complicated picture is the history of the ‘hexamine hypothesis’.
In a July 2014 paper, which I commend to anyone seriously interested in this history, Professor Postol exposed its origins in blatant fabrication by the Kaszeta/Higgins duo. This should have, as it were, driven a stake through its heart.
(See https://cryptome.org/2014/08/postol-debunks-kaszeta.pdf .)
However, it has proved to be a very resilient intellectual vampire. And the fact that it features both in the claims made in the French ‘National evaluation’ and the OPCW test results does tend to point towards some kind of transnational conspiracy.
The question at what point participation in a cover-up becomes ‘prima facie’ evidence in collusion in the preparation of what has to be covered up is an interesting one.
Chris, in fairness your question works both ways.
Note this paragraph of Hersh’s article: “Russian and Syrian Air Force officers gave details of the carefully planned flight path to and from Khan Shiekhoun on April 4 directly, in English, to the deconfliction monitors aboard the AWACS plane, which was on patrol near the Turkish border, 60 miles or more to the north”.
I find it hard to believe that Russia doesn’t routinely record those conversations – if only to have hard proof that they are, indeed, living up to their side of that deconfliction arrangement.
Yet where are the transcripts of those conversations? Why doesn’t Russia release them?
does that collusion merely involve making use of the incident for PR purposes or does it extend to some degree of collusion in setting the incident up?
EA, you are alluding to the Turkish MIT truck scandal? The larger Cumhuriyet, for us over here, centrally the Can Dündar case? He lives in Berlin now. Or at least Lüder’s may refer to it in the talk-show advertising his book.
What’s your point? Not sure if I understand? Hersh is getting old and does not really understand he is misused in some type of PR coup. His job is to sanitize the US military’s own involvement beyond what we know that far, in this case in setting up a false flag?
And Hersh stepped into such a trap with his sources? Not aware he is misused in some type of image sanitation operation?
I haven’t read Lüder’s book, the little he said is pretty close to what seems to have surfaced as something of a basic consensus on Syria here on SST over the years.
Concerning the MIT truck scandal, I don’t recall that any type of poison gas surfaced in that context. Doubt it could have. Although, yes, both Hersh’s and Dündar’s stories surfaced in 2014. One year post Obama’s hesitations around enforcing his red line.
I agree that there is a distinctly ‘fishy’ smell about this conversation.
David, could you give me the passages or is it the overall idea of publishing an highly edited anoymous exchange, as the Welt suggests? The post 9/11 universe confronted this nitwit with what felt a lot fishier official narratives. More from the top of my head.
And the fact that it features both in the claims made in the French ‘National evaluation’ and the OPCW test results does tend to point towards some kind of transnational conspiracy.
Caught my attention too. Admittedly. Strictly we watched similar matters here in Europe, partly. But: Necessarily? Or simply some type of long established habit in following the US authority? Via e.g. the upper US Nato representatives?
If you look at the attempted rebuttal of Hersh’s new piece on ‘Bellingcat’, to which others have referred, you will see that Higgins claims that the earlier ‘Red Line and Rat Line’ article was effectively refuted by a piece he and Kaszeta published in the ‘Guardian’ – of which a key part was the ‘hexamine hypothesis’.
(For the piece, see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/22/allegation-false-turkey-chemical-attack-syria .)
As to the ‘Red Line and Rat Line’ article, I produced a great deal of evidence both developing and supporting its argument in the piece entitled ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards?’ which Colonel Lang posted here in April.
(See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/22/allegation-false-turkey-chemical-attack-syria .)
With regard to the ‘hexamine hypothesis’, look first at Kaszeta’s background. As the email exchanges reproduced in the piece by Professor Postol to which I linked bring out, he clearly has no genuine claims to scientific expertise. However, his entry on the ‘Bellingcat’ sites tells us he ‘served for 12 years in the White House in Washington DC, from 1996 to 2008, in two different jobs spanning two very different Presidential administrations.’
In the exchanges with Postol, moreover, Kaszeta attempted to claim that Åke Sellström, who had headed the UN/OPCW investigation into Ghouta and related incidents, and his colleague Scott Cairns, had endorsed the ‘hexamine hypothesis’, linking to a press conference in which the two had participated on 13 December 2013.
And indeed, the author of the ‘hexamine hypothesis’ claimed that he was only developing conclusions to which the UN/OPCW team had been forced by the evidence, but could not make public because their remit did not allow them to do so:
‘As you can see, when confronted by the statements of someone who was on the ground and was in direct contact with the experts in both field and lab, I’m in no position to refute such established authorities. I am merely seeking to flesh out a hypothesis and scenario that accounts for all of this.’
But if in fact you look at the press conference, one finds that Sellström handed over the question to Cairns, who described the ‘hexamine hypothesis’ as just that – an hypothesis – without in any way endorsing it. So you can see that Kaszeta is believer in the technique of ‘the big lie’.
However, Kaszeta and Higgins were not going to allow the fact that neither Sellström nor Cairns had endorsed their claims to cramp their style. They simply resorted to new and more inventive forms of mendacity – as is evident from a 31 January 2014 post by the latter:
‘Ask I’m constantly being asked this, here’s the Hexamine question from the CBRNe Sellstrom interview that didn’t make the edit, from Gwyn Winfield, the interviewer –http://www.cbrneworld.com/_uploads/download_magazines/Sellstrom_Feb_2014_v2.pdf
‘“Q – Why was hexamine on the list of chemical scheduled to be destroyed – it has many other battlefield uses as well as sarin? Did you request to put it on the list or had the Syrian’s claimed that they were using it?
‘A – It is in their formula, it is their acid scavenger.’’’
(See https://plus.google.com/108344897173120412718/posts/62vsHPVJPua .)
After Sellström was e-mailed by Postol, and made clear in an e-mail which the latter reproduced in his paper that this was not his view, there was a fascinating exchange of ‘tweets’ on 3-4 July 2014 initiated by Maram Susli – who had provided input on relevant science for the paper, and ‘tweets’ under the name ‘Partisangirl’.
It started with her ‘tweeting’ ‘I can reveal that Ake Sellstrom of the OPCW rejects @Brown_Moses & @DanKezetas claims that Hexamine is evidence that Sarin belong to Sy govt’
In response, Higgins ‘tweeted’ both her and Winfield, who apparently uses the name ‘ChemBioTroll’: ‘@Partisangirl @ChemBioTroll has a recorded of Sellstrom saying “It is in their formula, it is their acid scavenger.” during his interview’.
To cut a long, and interesting, exchange, short, Winfield ‘tweeted’: ‘@Partisangirl @Brown_Moses on culpability I have to agree with PG. At no point, in published or un-published material, does he ascribe guilt.’
Then, Susli linked to an interview Sellström had given in March to the ‘Carnegie Moscow Center’, where in answer to a question about the ‘hexamine hypothesis’, he had said:
‘Hexamine could be a stabilizer of sarin, but others have claimed that the hexamine found could also be a contaminant being present because of the explosives.’
In response, Winfield ‘tweeted’: ‘I don’t see any difference between what Ake said to me and them. He plays with “a straight bat”.’
Among many fascinating elements of these exchanges is the curious way that both Sellström and Winfield very clearly intimate that the account of both their actions by Higgins and Kaszeta is false. However, neither actually says openly that the duo are simply fabricating.
From that, it seems legitimate to infer that the pair are not simply, as they claim to be, ordinary citizens engaged in attempting to seek out the truth. They are dirty little disinformation peddlers. However, they would not act with such impudence, if they did not have much bigger and more powerful disinformation peddlers behind them.
The phrase “sarin or sarin-like substance” is used to describe a positive result in the fluoride regeneration test on blood samples. This means that the original molecule had a structure of the form isopropyl-methylphosphonyl-R, where R is a group that comes off easily as an anion: fluoride (as in sarin), chloride (as in chlorosarin), cyanide or something else.
No molecules with this structure are used as pesticides, fertilizers or for any other industrial use. So release of such chemicals from secondary explosions can’t explain the positive test results.
That is the gold standard for determining the accuracy Ukrainian or middle eastern reporting.
If Bellingcat denounces it, you’ve hit pay dirt.
I didn’t know you are from the movie business, whatever that is supposed to mean.
It is very convoluted, and it is noticeable that the parties are not responding to each other, but addressing the audience.
Interesting. What is it exactly that makes it convoluted, or for that matter reminds you, as expert, of a bad movie script? Or gives you the impression an audience is addressed?
Not responding to each other? Only happening in movie scripts, never in real life? I’ll read it again. May have missed something.
Anyway. Passages? Evidence?
Why should they have to, and who would listen?
It’s already admitted that Russia gave the US the flight plan of the Su-22 in question, what more should they have to give?
“No one is talking about the entire reason we’re in Iraq and Syria in the first place. That mission is fucked now.”
I have my own thoughts, but would be curious to read others’ interpretations of this statement.
Thanks in advance.
I’ve subscribed to the LRB for decades and wrote them concerning this. Here’s their reply, excluding the salutation – “We would dearly have liked to publish the story but we needed more supporting evidence than we and his sources were able to get.
David Habakkuk – sincere thanks for that summary.
Samples of dubious origin, no verifiable chain of custody, dodgy science, contested interpretation of tests. + Hamish de Bretton-Gordon serving Queen and Country in his own inimitable way. Sounds an absolute riot. Not so much for the Syrians, sadly.
I’m not being flippant. What the hell are our people doing getting mixed up in this sort of rubbish? I just have a suspicion that, despite such indefatigable work as yours, we’re never going to know.
LeaNder – At 12 mins in on the video Lueders is referring to the Ghouta poison gas incident. I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear before.
Is Hersh used as a conduit? Undoubtedly. Politicans and officials do try to use journalists as conduits. Is Hersh aware of that? Well, he’s been around for a while so he’s probably noticed it by now.
I find German TV considerably more prepared to give a platform to those querying the official line, even if only on chat shows or discussion programmes. They gave General Kujat a good innings a while ago. Wonderful man, solid as a rock – I hope you agree. And of course there’s always Sahra Wagenknecht battling away. Is it your impression that the German media isn’t quite as sealed tight shut as ours?
sid: “It’s already admitted that Russia gave the US the flight plan of the Su-22 in question, what more should they have to give?”
No, that is untrue. Neither the State Dept spokesman nor his Pentagon equivalent has acknowledged that this information was shared.
I don’t dispute that Hersh is reporting that he was told that this did indeed take place, but since he doesn’t have any evidence other than “I am told” then that amounts to hearsay.
The Russians could provide just such evidence, at which point the US Govt would have no choice but to admit that this did indeed happen.
But absent such evidence the US Govt can simply ignore Hersh, which is exactly what they are doing.
The absence of an unequivocal denial that US forces were given the alert must be confirmation that it was received. Right?
I don’t believe this blog is indexed by news.google.com.
But it certainly is by google:
Just visit google.com and type in
or whatever you want to search on.
The point is you can specify the site (URL) you desire to be searched.
Why does the “conversation” sound cooked? It does, I agree. My options: 1) It is. Or 2) Sounds like two people, who know each other pretty well, have worked together before, and all id and opsec have been stripped out.
The BBC is reporting that Trump is saying another chemical attack is being planned by the Syrian government, and is warning of a severe reprisal:
( http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40413563 )
I don’t know what new lunacy this is, but something very like it seems to have erupted again in the White House. Will the US military and State Department be able to stop the craziness this time around? Or, is the future to be one crazy US action after another until everything gets blown up in Armageddon?
The Israelis are in a fright over recent SAG successes and IMO are probably pushing Trump to take the US to war against Syria. They can easily do that using JK and the daughter as instruments since DJT has no FP of his own. IAF strikes against Syrian forces in Quneitra Province in the last few days tend to support this opinion on my part. In this case there appears to be significant distance between the WH and DoD. The WH has telegraphed its intentions so clearly that a lack of Russian response to a strike in response to another phony Syrian gas attack would seem likely unless Russia has decided to abandon the Syrians. pl
To explain why your comment about the strike being southwest of town may be critical to making sense of the story:
Adam Larson has located one of the fog sources to a building southwest of town that was destroyed by an air strike on a date close to 4 April:-
Okay, this can’t be what he actually means, but there’s an apparent two-story home, maybe brick, destroyed maybe on April 4 (between satellite pics) outside town to the southwest. A home on the same site was destroyed at the time of the 2014 Islamist “liberation” of the town. See here – it’s the apparent origin of the fog over the south part of town. It’s got weird tracks into the field, a big water reservoir to use, it gets destroyed, and the rubble might have been re-located to a nearby field. It’s perhaps just beneath the recon/alleged bombing flight path. But there’s no sign of a blast or smoke from here at the time of the attack – that started later. If noth were south, this might be the place someone spoke of. Maybe it was intact as it did its smoke op once the recon jets had passed, and then it was blown up at noon, as a Nusra CW facility? –Caustic Logic (talk) 15:04, 26 June 2017 (UTC)
Hersh describes a US military Bomb Damage Assessment that concluded that a toxic cloud of chemicals had been released by secondary explosions at the site of the attack. If this was the site they were looking at, it’s possible that they could have reached such a conclusion from drone/satellite images of the fog. With the prevailing southwesterly wind (from southwest to northeast), this fog spread over the town as seen in We suspect that this fog was produced deliberately as a special effect, but that wouldn’t have been the most obvious explanation at the time.
Begs the question as to when do the Russians start holding the Israelis accountable for their lobby?
Is Hersh used as a conduit? Undoubtedly. Politicans and officials do try to use journalists as conduits. Is Hersh aware of that? Well, he’s been around for a while so he’s probably noticed it by now.
EA, journalists no doubt are useful tools and often used to spread earlier defined messages. The lazier they are, or the less time they have to check, the more reliable they are. Those contacts tend to be cultivated quite a bit. I was involved in such matters.
Is Hersh as easily guidable as others? I somewhat doubt. Partly he follows his own nose.
Meaning, he surely does not only pretend, but he has connections and sources that allow him to talk to people closer to the facts. And he is familiar with the context. Could that lead him into something like a larger rumor mill too. Without any doubt. People that serve in whatever positions have private opinions too. Besides, ‘secret source’ gives a bit of a cover. Could he be misused in the process? Absolutely. Can they tell him everything they know, if they are still in the business. Obviously not.
From that perspective, this feels a bit, well yes what? Redundant? If you remain aware, he is only approaching matters to the extend he can. Nutshell: I not only trust him he did not invent it, I also trust him he has experience enough to deal with his sources carefully. But apparently an increasing amount of people in the media considers him dangerous. He walks a thin line, and no doubt inspires some that are more speculative, fascinated by abysses opening up.
Nevertheless I’d be uneasy to see the transcript you refer to used as exhibit A of the rebuttal.
In any case the scenario of a “security adviser” or whatever type of interested party trying to get direct information from the frontlines sounds pretty realistic to me.
Seconding Pmr9’s request for more info. Hersh says north side of town, but southwest of town is an interesting spot with an apparent 2-story house, perhaps made of brick, that may have been attacked that day, but apparently not at the time of the 6:45 attack. Details: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/06/idlib-chemical-massacre-sw-fog-area.html
As for intel sharing, not sure if that can line up right. If the attack was at 11:30, wouldn’t it be planned that way? No evidence for an attack at 6:45, just a likely recon flight, that the Jihadis would have synchronized with.
EO, Kujat is a fascinating guy like our host. Already was on the Ukraine. But there is of course this Wikipedia snippet:
Since July 2016, Kujat is a member of the Supervisory Board of the Berlin based Research Institute ‘Dialogue of Civilizations' (DOC), allegedly financed by Vladimir Yakunin, until 2015 CEO of the Russian Railways and by some sources considered a member of the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
I wrote so before, I have highly mixed feelings concerning Sahra Wagenknecht. But she’s no doubt the most well known face of Die Linke by now. I am familiar with her from her early times in the PDS.
Concerning German media. Too complex to put it into a nutshell. We have specific post WWII media laws with rules for the public channels. Can you understand?
But obviously we don’t live on an information Iisland with no connection to the world. I was pretty startled when Bellingcrat surfaced as British research institute in the news. On Syria there obviously always was the difficulty to get the needed images, and with the images the sources of those influenced content. Meaning it was probably pretty similar to the GB or the US. The little icons told you about the source, e.g. the White Helmets. What how many did realize? Besides obviously, to take a random pick, the WAPO or the NYT are read and American perspectives thus influence our media too. Thus without any doubt, we are neatly aligned with the dominating American narratives. Not always, as was the case with the Iraq war, but mostly.
looks like a slow motion advance to recapture the Golan and push israel out of the west bank and back to the 67 lines.
the 2 powers have set up base to control the wider situation as pressure is applied.as per usual a republican government was mustered to do the dirty.the propaganda war has laid the foundations and kushner is doing the negioate with bibi.what could possibly go wrong.hohoho and away we go
I am a Production Designer for film, TV and production shows, lately trying my hand in producing complete projects. It involves reading a lot of scripts, and also more often than not, trying to improve them, this being Turkey, not Hollywood. I am no expert in scriptwriting, but only to the extent to distinguish good ones from bad ones, with the added advantage of seeing the finished product through my mind’s eye as I read it.
Especially when adopting a novel into a screenplay, the storyline has to be told through dialogue, that means conveying information to the reader through casual conversation. Too much information, gives the game away and makes the conversation convoluted, loaded, artificial, like a briefing only not through direct statements, but related conversations.
Not responding to each other means the conversation is not strictly between the two parties communicating with each other, responding to each other’s thoughts, displaying empathy, arguing, and relating in which case referential information is relevant only to the extent that it helps carry the communication forward.
I don’t know LeaNder, I can’t give you a blow by blow analysis of how I arrived to my point. Evidence? None, we are not talking about anything concrete here, there is no event or story to prove or disprove. I can only say this, from the information displayed in this conversation, a journalist can write a complete informative piece about how things are within the Trump administration and the mess in Syria. Then if one wants to adapt that article into a screenplay, this will be the conversation one will have. Also, if you take the first sentences of each actor and delete the rest of the informative stuff following, then you may have a natural conversation without the briefing data. Try it.
For your information, I read almost everything here on this site, and only post opinions about subjects I am familiar with and knowledgeable about, as much as I like to see my writings on print here. If expertise was a requirement to post an opinion here, where would you be?
this “We-got-a-fuckin-problem.html” chat is totally unbelievable.
At best it is a staged show “for the record”
At worst Hersh made it up
This in turn makes his other articles on topic – his conclusions derived from that chat – far less plausible.
The Russians have given up on the Information War outside of formal meetings at the U.N. They are only focusing on the ground war, basic diplomacy, and handling us like the screaming toddlers that we are. I think that this is a mistake but Lavrov isn’t returning my phone calls. The Russians could have at least produced a detailed timeline of events for the day to see if the toxic smoke theory was plausible.
Regardless of Russia’s failings, our MSM should always have the mentality ‘you have to prove your case’ not ‘the other guy has to prove you are wrong’. Our Pentagon made a very specific claim and our MSM has accepted every aspect of it without question. It’s as if they would consider it rude to question their conclusions. Wow, the Vietnam era press corp is dead and buried. We now have Stepford Wives working in the MSM, our govt officials (not the politicians) can make any claim whatsoever and have it accepted as absolute truth.
(15yrs ago, quoting Noam Chomsky was incomprehensible)
“The absence of an unequivocal denial that US forces were given the alert must be confirmation that it was received. Right?”
No, that doesn’t follow.
It can simply mean that the MSM is now so complicit that its “reporters” refuse to pose obvious questions to the various spokesmodels at the Press Briefings at State or the Pentagon.
After all, if you are never asked a tough question then you never need to explain yourself……
“The Russians have given up on the Information War outside of formal meetings at the U.N.”
Yeah, apparently they have.
Didn’t I just point out one obvious example?
“I think that this is a mistake but Lavrov isn’t returning my phone calls.”
I agree, which is why I find it so inexplicable that they don’t release a transcript of the deconfliction conversation that Hersh reported in his article.
I would, and I don’t understand why the Russians don’t.
It reads like a thread from some kind of real-time chat forum rather than an email exchange.
How credible that is would be determined entirely by knowledge of the identity of the two chatterboxes.
Which, obviously, we don’t know.
Though – equally obviously – both Hersh and the editors at Welt do know their identity and find it quite credible that those two gentlemen would indulge in such an ungentlemanly exchange.
They do sound mighty pissed-off, don’t they?
Oh, dear, should I excuse?
For your information, I read almost everything here on this site, and only post opinions about subjects
I’ll take this as meaning I should better follow your example. 😉
One point, I had a quite interesting American prof who wrote a book on ‘Literature and/as Film’. He confronted us more generally with this question. Could it be that the movies to some extend shape our perception of the reality? Making us unable to differ between reality and fiction? He gave a couple of examples from reality were people mistook what was happening with a movie. In some cases with not so fortunate results.
Would have been nice if Sy Hersh would have done a lil investigative journalism relative to the Obama administration. His gleeful reporting of Abu Gharib hurt our efforts in Iraq. I’m not saying it shouldn’t have been reported, but was definitely done in a way for political reasons. However, I do agree with him on this Syrian gassing issue.
ding ding ding.
ToivoS, Bellingcat is funded by Google.
LeaNder – thanks for that information. Clearly I misread your original comment and made some false assumptions. Profuse apologies. I read you now as warning that Hersh is a seasoned journalist and knows his way around, but might be getting a bit cranky. Let’s hope that a cracked pot can still hold water, then.
There are several people I respect who voted for Sahra Wagenknecht. Faut de mieux stuff, I suppose. I’ll never forget her standing up in the Bundestag like Joan of Arc while the rest of them howled at her like a Bierhalle mob. I put her in the same category as George Galloway and to a lesser extent Corbyn over here. A real mess politically but has the guts to speak out in a very hostile environment. I do love a conviction politician even though – are you listening Donald? Where are you, Bernie? – they usually lead me up the garden path. Perhaps one day one will come along with some half-way decent convictions and stick to them. Perhaps one day pigs will fly.
Would have been nice if Sy Hersh would have done a lil investigative journalism relative to the Obama administration.
he did. see, e.g.
“The Red Line and the Rat Line” 2014 April London Review of Books
“Whose Sarin” 2013 Dec also LRB
Perhaps Trump knew that the intelligence people were right but had decided to launch the missiles as a piece of political theatre.
We are picking our way through the vast criminal enterprise that is the Syrian war. The Western powers have set on and assisted in setting on great numbers of fighters in order to destroy a country. The death, suffering and destruction caused is unimaginable. We can no longer pretend that this has occurred as a result of some deftly organised colour revolution gone wrong. We can no longer pretend that we are intervening in some ambiguous internal dispute. In response to Putin’s magisterial rebuke “Do you even now not realise what you have done?” we can only say “We do.” And as Tillerson has recently made clear, we’ll do exactly the same again in Iran if we can.
All this while the bulk of the population of the West is entirely unaware of what is occurring, even uninterested, and if ever they become uneasy a picture of a dead child can hastily be presented to them and that, without further enquiry, sets their minds at rest.
The fight to get the truth out about what is happening, and the fight to suppress that truth, is today called the information war. You and I – because I’m certain that you and I are on the same side – have to come to that unequal fight with clean hands. We may not be the most effective warriors – I’ve only managed to explain to a handful of people what’s happening in Syria and if you’ve done better I don’t expect you’ve been able to do much better – and certainly not, for my part, that adequately equipped, but as long as the facts we set out are irrefutable and the conclusions clear we can get a blow in now and again. There must be thousands of people reading the Colonel’s site who are also getting their blows in. If we stray by even the slightest from provable fact then those blows have no effect.
Sy Hersh has given us a well researched and authoritative report on one tiny corner of the Syrian disaster. I can’t use it. There are no names given. The reported conversation might have been edited or reconstructed. Neither the White House nor the State Department has issued a comment or denial that will enable us to take a cross bearing. It’s something to tuck away in the back of one’s mind while waiting for further confirmation. It’s not something we can email to a friend and say “Here’s a smoking gun if ever I saw one.
So I’m not trying to run Hersh down, or his report. I’m just saying it’s no use to me personally. If you know more about it, as you probably do, then I hope it’ll be of some use to you. In this unequal information war we need all the help we can get.
Come sir, the administration does not need to wait for the media to ask the question. They can issue a press release or statement at any time.
The President is a demanding customer. And we like it that way, because it shows that he depends on us and values what we do. Let me give you an example to illustrate the point.
I got a call from the President one afternoon back in April. He wanted to talk about some disturbing images that were coming in from Syria. I’m sure you saw many of them yourselves—scenes of innocent civilians writhing in agony, the apparent victims of a chemical weapons attack.
The President had a very direct message for me: Find out what happened. So we immediately assembled a crack team of Agency experts. They began piecing together the evidence, working closely with some outstanding partners from across the Intelligence Community.
The next day the President called his cabinet together. As we sat down, he turned to me and asked what we had learned. I told him that the IC had concluded that a chemical weapon had indeed been used in the attack, and that it had been launched by the Syrian regime.
The President paused a moment and said: Pompeo, are you sure? I’ll admit that the question took my breath away. But I knew how solid the evidence was, and I was able to look him in the eye and say, Mr. President, we have high confidence in our assessment.
The President never looked back. Based on the Intelligence Community’s judgment, he made one of the most consequential decisions of his young administration, launching a strike against the very airfield where the attack originated.