Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Who Used the Poison Gas in Syria?

CIA veterans demand that Obama show what evidence he has about Syria. It is undisputed that someone used poison gas. It is unclear who that was. The Obama administration has simply repeated the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. The Obama administration claims to be as confident in 2013 as …the Bush administration was in 2002 of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - which turned out to be a baldfaced lie.

There are two competing stories about who used the poison gas.

The US government claims it was the Syrian government. Congressman Allen Grayson (D-FL) has been given the classified briefing, and remains unconvinced that the Obama Administration is telling the truth.

A Minnesota-based news service, Mint Press News, reported "Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack".

Journalist Jim Naureckas of the media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), asks, "Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account is More Credibie?" Naureckas makes the case the the Mint Press Account is more credible. Naureckas points out that the Obama Administration's account is far more vague and less specific than…Colin Powell's address to the UN on Iraq, which turned out to be full of lies.

But read Naureckas' account and make up your own mind.


EFS_Junior said...

Mint Press News?


bluegrue said...

Back in May Turkish media reported that 12 suspected members of Syria's al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front had been arrested while being in possession of 2 liters of sarin. A lot of blogs run with this as fact, as does the open letter by the Syrian Parliament to the US House of representatives [1]. However, a contemporary Reuters article reports that the chemicals still needed to undergo laboratory analysis [2], according to Turkish officials. Could one of the local twitterati please ask the Reuters author and Turkey correspondent, whether or not there have been follow-ups?


Anonymous said...

You would have to be skeptical about this report appearing simultaneously with Putin's identical accusation in today's NYT.

And all this well in advance of any UN inspector's report, of which we may see the first indications on Monday.

Usually, the guy standing over the corpse of the man he hated, with a smoking gun in his hand, is the guy who did it.

Anonymous said...

The point of the CIA veterans is that one should see the evidence before one draws conclusions.

That would be the scientific approach, which many here (Brian and others) seem never to have learned.

Incidentally, many of these CIA Veterans (eg, Ray McGovern) were making a similar demand for the evidence before the invasion of Iraq.

But unfortunately, many would rather draw the conclusion first without seeing the evidence.

Very unscientific and very surprising for a science blog.

John said...

An "expert" in Syria, Dr. Elizabeth O'Bagy, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal recently, strongly supporting the Syrian rebels, and claiming the the rebels are not Al Quaida. Dr. O'Bagy was cited by John Kerry and by John McCain.
However: it soon turned out that she was a paid staffer for a pro-Syrian-rebel neoconservative outfit.
Latest development? She was fired for falsely claiming that she had a Ph. D.

What's next? Incubators? Colin Powell addressing the UN? Judith Miller at the NYT?

John said...

Whoops, I forgot to include the link in my last comment.

Jeffrey Davis said...

I enjoy Romm's site, but I think he has a Herr Trigger and scant tolerance for dissent.

William Connolley said...

> The Obama administration claims to be as confident in 2013 as …the Bush administration was in 2002 of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

You made that up, I think. AFAIK the Obama folk haven't made this comparison. Harking back to Bush's dreadful tenure is just propaganda on your part, not any kind of logical argument.

> CIA veterans demand that Obama show what evidence he has about Syria

Yeah, right. And a whole pile of ex-astronauts say Global Warming is a scam. Argument from fake authority is meaningless.

If the Assad regime wasn't behind the attack, why did they spend 5 days preventing the UN inspectors from going to look? If they'd known it was the rebels, not them, they'd have sped them there in a fleet of limos toot sweet.

David B. Benson said...
I don't think I can meaningfully comment to make Monbiot's point even stronger.

Thomas said...

William, argument from rhetorical question is meaningless.

UN inspectors can't just run off on a whim, they needed a mandate from UN and that took a couple of days to get, which is still quick by UN standards. From Wikipedia: "On 24 August, UN officials arrived in Damascus and negotiated access for their inspectors, which the Syrian government approved the next day."

Considering that we are talking about a country in civil war where ensuring safety for an inspection team isn't trivial, I'd say the process was remarkably quick.

Anonymous said...

A key part of the Bush playbook was to discredit the UN inspectors and to undermine their position as honest brokers.

Correct me if I am wrong, but is not the Obama administration waiting to see the UN inspector's report?

Rushing to judgment that the rebels were responsible seems to me to be as partisan, foolish and unjust as blaming Assad, who must be the prime suspect. Though, a rogue subordinate cannot be ruled out.


Thomas said...

"Correct me if I am wrong, but is not the Obama administration waiting to see the UN inspector's report? "

Just after Assad accepted the inspections Obama sent a letter to UN to try to call them off since he claimed USA already had enough evidence (that he didn't want to show to anyone).

Brian said...

News reports say the UN inspectors will have their own report out on Monday.

John said...

Dear David Benson:
Thanks for the link to the excellent article by George Montbiot, who really knows how the world works.

DavidP said...

This article is a convincing analysis showing that chemical warhead missiles were delivered the attack. Only the Syrian government has the relevant missile types.

Spottedquoll said...

Three weeks after the story broke there is still only one source for this claim, a journalism student by the name of Yayha Ababneh who was apparently on the ground (though most media who picked up the story reported it as Dale Gavlek who was there - and generally inflated her employment from freelancer to Reuters reporter).

So, my question is "who is Yayha Ababneh?". There are stories that he had reported for al Jazeera amongst others, I've yet to find any other stories by the reporter (I did find a mention of someone of that name having dinner with a few Israelis in a sort of cross cultural exchange). I'd like to see some sort of verification that this reporter is, indeed, a reliable source, there is the linkedin reference but that really proves nothing.

Just my two cents worth.

cRR Kampen said...

How come it took over 5 days, during which repeated shelling of the block, before UN inspectors could arrive at the scene?
If Assad threw it, okay. If the rebels did and are the party keeping UN from coming in, why has the government not made this big news?

My 2 cts. The attack was government (Assad clan). Now Assad is laughing his ass ad, er, off. He got the rus to keep the west from bombing. He's dealing with the FSA together with fractions of Hizbollah and pushing it into marginality.
He got the west to believe FSA = al-Nusra, the muslim militia holding the NE of Syria. And he's got the whole world rallied to deal with al-Nusra come time. Assad laughing ever ffing day.

You wouldn't believe the adoration many people in the west have for Assad. Suddenly. The good guy destroying the bad guys (that is: the muslims, those who think Allah is the only God and those of the islamic faith, ...).
Actually, Khadaffi was also rather on the way to this kind of succes. Pity for him his country is flat as a soccer field so any air power could gun anything away anytime resulting in a quick decision.

Spottedquoll said...

Correction AP rather than Reuters.