Exclusive: The U.S. government and the mainstream media rushed to judgment again, blaming the Syrian government for a new poison-gas attack and ignoring other possibilities, reports Robert Parry.By Robert Parry With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths.
Before a careful evaluation of the evidence about Tuesday’s tragedy was possible, The New York Times and other major U.S. news outlets had pinned the blame for the scores of dead on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. That revived demands that the U.S. and other nations establish a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which would amount to launching another “regime change” war and would put America into a likely hot war with nuclear-armed Russia…….
…One possible scenario was that Syrian warplanes bombed a rebel weapons depot where the poison gas was stored, causing the containers to rupture. Another possibility was a staged event by increasingly desperate Al Qaeda jihadists who are known for their disregard for innocent human life.
While it’s hard to know at this early stage what’s true and what’s not, these alternative explanations, I’m told, are being seriously examined by U.S. intelligence. One source cited the possibility that Turkey had supplied the rebels with the poison gas (the exact type still not determined) for potential use against Kurdish forces operating in northern Syria near the Turkish border or for a terror attack in a government-controlled city like the capital of Damascus.
Reporting by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh and statements by some Turkish police and opposition politicians linked Turkish intelligence and Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists to the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds, although the Times and other major U.S. news outlets continue to blame that incident on Assad’s regime…
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Red Flags, False Flags and the Rush to Judgment
Proof: Turkey Did 2013 Sarin Attack and Did This One Too
Turkish whistleblowers recorded converstations, Turkish Sarin gas terrorism proven
There is no one left but VT to speak out. It is too late for Jones and Watson, burned beyond recognition, to put their tails between their legs and “come home to mama.”
Let’s first challenge the assumptions, there is no history of Syria using chemical weapons against its own people, never happened. Syria did have chemical weapons mind you. We, meaning VT, told President Assad through intermediaries back in 2012 that we would act as go-between with the US in aiding Syria in disposing of her chemical weapons inventory.
We told Assad this: “If you fail to heed our warning, your good friends, Israel and Turkey, who have been working closely together since 2009, will set you up and the US will be forced to institute a policy of aggressive regime change.”
Within a year, the incident below in Ghouta had killed 1300 Syrians and the US was ready to take out Assad. As you can read below, two Turkish members of parliament came forward and ratted out Erdogan for his part in the plot with Israel against Syria which led to the Ghouta massacre.
This story has been buried and is ignored by the maintream media, forgotten by Russia and even Syria. It was not brought up at the UNSC today when it should have, an oversight by Russia that is unforgivable. g
MEMORANDUM FOR: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Sarin Attack at Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013
In a Memorandum of Oct. 1, 2013, we asked each of you to make public the intelligence upon which you based your differing conclusions on who was responsible for the sarin chemical attack at Ghouta, outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. On Dec. 10, 2015, Eren Erdem, a member of parliament in Turkey, citing official documents, blamed Turkey for facilitating the delivery of sarin to rebels in Syria.
Mr. Kerry, you had blamed the Syrian government. Mr. Lavrov, you had described the sarin as “homemade” and suggested anti-government rebels were responsible. Each of you claimed to have persuasive evidence to support your conclusion.
Neither of you responded directly to our appeal to make such evidence available to the public, although, Mr. Lavrov, you came close to doing so. In a speech at the UN on Sept. 26, 2013, you made reference to the views we presented in our VIPS Memorandum, Is Syria a Trap?, sent to President Obama three weeks earlier….
Remember What This General Said About Engaging Syrian Air Defences? (Warning: It’s Not Comforting)
The neo-cons have finally got what they wanted: direct engagement between U.S. armed forces and the Syrian airforce. But while the Western establishment, including the mainstream media and even NGOs like Amnesty International, cheer enthusiastically from the sidelines, it may be worth recalling what U.S. General Joseph Dunford, the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in testimony six months ago about the potential ramifications of engaging Syrian air defences:
“Right now, for us to control all the air space in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that I’m certainly not going to make” (see below for footage of the full exchange)
But President Donald Trump just did, and with majority support from both sides of the aisle. In so doing he poked the world’s most nuclear armed bear right in the eye. The response from the Kremlin was as swift as it was menacing. Russian President Vladimir Putin “regards the strikes as aggression against a sovereign nation,” his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, noting that the president believes the strikes were carried out “in violation of international law, and also under an invented pretext.”
Relations between Russia and the U.S. and NATO have soured to the point of curdling in recent years, thanks largely to events in Ukraine and Russia’s decision to defend the Assad government from concerted efforts by NATO and its allies in the Middle East, including, of course, their proxy ISIS forces, to replace the regime with one that is more welcome to hosting gas pipelines connecting Qatar to Europe. As Russia’s U.N. ambassador said last year, relations between the United States and Russia are probably at their worst point since the 1973 Mideast war. And that was before Trump decided to directly target Syria’s air force.
It’s worth also recalling that the U.S. has been sending thousing of fresh troops to the region in recent months. At first in December Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters the troops are only there to, “simply shoot back if somebody shoots at them.” Then last month, Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for the military coalition fighting ISIS, told reporters the US is “absolutely” in combat, saying,“Absolutely. When someone is shooting at you, that is combat, yes.”
(Syria’s air defense capacity) is getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians, So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.”
So, basically we are now in wholly unchartered waters. Not once during the Cold War did U.S. and NATO forces directly engage hostile terrain where Russian forces are actively involved in defending another nation’s armed forces. All such confrontations were through proxies, such as in Vietnam. The closest we came to such an outcome during the Cold War was in the Cuban Missile Crisis when a cool-headed John F Kennedy was able to resist pressure from the U.S. Military Command to escalate tensions with Russia and risk plunging the world into nuclear Armageddon.
This time around, instead of Kennedy we have the cocksure narcissist-in-chief, Donald Trump, in the hot seat and well out of his depth. And he’s being advised by neo-con maniacs that would like nothing more than to finally put Russia, Iran and Hezbollah in their place, at pretty much any cost. The so-called Deep State, including the CIA and DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency), is also firmly on board.
In the meantime, Israel and a very powerful coalition of murky business and political interests including Jacob Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and former CIA director James Woolsey have their sights set on seizing huge, recently discovered reserves of black gold in the Golan Heights, which on paper (i.e. on a map), still belongs to war-torn Syria. And they’re seemingly willing to take us to the verge of global nuclear war to get it.
Pointing to strong doubt among chemical weapons experts regarding the evidence adduced to blame the government of Syria for the sarin attack, you also referred to the “open letter sent to President Obama by former operatives of the CIA and the Pentagon,” in which we expressed similar doubt.
Mr. Kerry, on Aug. 30, 2013, you blamed the Syrian government, publicly and repeatedly, for the sarin attack. But you failed to produce the kind of “Intelligence Assessment” customarily used to back up such claims.
We believe that this odd lack of a formal “Intelligence Assessment” is explained by the fact that our former colleagues did not believe the evidence justified your charges and that, accordingly, they resisted pressure to “fix the intelligence around the policy,” as was done to “justify” the attack on Iraq.
Intelligence analysts were telling us privately (and we told the President in our Memorandum of Sept. 6, 2013) that, contrary to what you claimed, “the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was not responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21.”
This principled dissent from these analysts apparently led the White House to create a new art form, a “Government Assessment,” to convey claims that the government in Damascus was behind the sarin attack. It was equally odd that the newly minted genre of report offered not one item of verifiable evidence.
(We note that you used this new art form “Government (not Intelligence) Assessment” a second time – again apparently to circumvent intelligence analysts’ objections. On July 22, 2014, just five days after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, after the media asked you to come up with evidence supporting the charges you leveled against “pro-Russian separatists” on the July 20 Sunday talk shows, you came up with the second, of only two, “Government Assessment.” Like the one on the chemical attack in Syria, the assessment provided meager fare when it comes to verifiable evidence.)
Claims and Counterclaims
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013, President Obama asserted: “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the [Syrian] regime carried out this attack [at Ghouta].”
Mr. Lavrov, that same day you publicly complained that U.S. officials kept claiming “‘the Syrian regime,’ as they call it, is guilty of the use of chemical weapons, without providing comprehensive proof.” Two days later you told the U.N. General Assembly you had given Mr. Kerry “the latest compilation of evidence, which was an analysis of publicly available information.” You also told the Washington Post, “This evidence is not something revolutionary. It’s available on the Internet.”
On the Internet? Mr. Kerry, if your staff avoided calling your attention to Internet reports about Turkish complicity in the sarin attack of Aug. 21, 2013, because they lacked confirmation, we believe you can now consider them largely confirmed.
Addressing fellow members of parliament on Dec. 10, 2015, Turkish MP Eren Erdem from the Republican People’s Party (a reasonably responsible opposition group) confronted the Turkish government on this key issue. Waving a copy of “Criminal Case Number 2013/120,” Erdem referred to official reports and electronic evidence documenting a smuggling operation with Turkish government complicity.
In an interview with RT four days later, Erdem said Turkish authorities had acquired evidence of sarin gas shipments to anti-government rebels in Syria, and did nothing to stop them.
The General Prosecutor in the Turkish city of Adana opened a criminal case, and an indictment stated “chemical weapons components” from Europe “were to be seamlessly shipped via a designated route through Turkey to militant labs in Syria.” Erdem cited evidence implicating the Turkish Minister of Justice and the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation in the smuggling of sarin.
According to Erdem, the 13 suspects arrested in raids carried out against the plotters were released just a week after they were indicted, and the case was closed — shut down by higher authority. Erdem told RT that the sarin attack at Ghouta took place shortly after the criminal case was closed and that the attack probably was carried out by jihadists with sarin gas smuggled through Turkey.
Small wonder President Erdogan has accused Erdem of “treason.” It was not Erdem’s first “offense.” Earlier, he exposed corruption by Erdogan family members, for which a government newspaper branded him an “American puppet, Israeli agent, a supporter of the terrorist PKK and the instigator of a coup.”
In our Sept. 6, 2013 Memorandum for the President, we reported that coordination meetings had taken place just weeks before the sarin attack at a Turkish military garrison in Antakya – just 15 miles from the Syrian border with Syria and 55 miles from its largest city, Aleppo.
In Antakya, senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials were said to be coordinating plans with Western-sponsored rebels, who were told to expect an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development.” This, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria, and rebel commanders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Assad government.
A year before, the New York Times reported that the Antakya area had become a “magnet for foreign jihadis, who are flocking into Turkey to fight holy war in Syria.” The Times quoted a Syrian opposition member based in Antakya, saying the Turkish police were patrolling this border area “with their eyes closed.”
And, Mr. Lavrov, while the account given by Eren Erdem before the Turkish Parliament puts his charges on the official record, a simple Google search including “Antakya” shows that you were correct in stating the Internet contains a wealth of contemporaneous detail supporting Erdem’s disclosures.
Mr. Kerry, while in Moscow on Dec. 15, 2015, you said to a Russian interviewer that Syrian President Assad “has gassed his people – I mean, gas hasn’t been used in warfare formally for years – for – and gas is outlawed, but Assad used it.”
Three days later The Washington Post dutifully repeated the charge about Assad’s supposed killing “his own people with chemical weapons.” U.S. media have made this the conventional wisdom. The American people are not fully informed. There has been no mainstream media reporting on Turkish MP Erdem’s disclosures.
We ask you again, Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov, to set the record straight on this important issue. The two of you have demonstrated an ability to work together on important matters – the Iran nuclear deal, for example – and have acknowledged a shared interest in defeating ISIS, which clearly is not Turkish President Erdogan’s highest priority. Indeed, his aims are at cross-purposes to those wishing to tamp down the violence in Syria.
After the shoot-down of Russia’s bomber on Nov. 24, President Vladimir Putin put Russian forces in position to retaliate the next time, and told top defense officials, “Any targets threatening our [military] group or land infrastructure must be immediately destroyed.” We believe that warning should be taken seriously. What matters, though, is what Erdogan believes.
There is a good chance Erdogan will be dismissive of Putin’s warning, as long as the Turkish president believes he can depend on NATO always to react in the supportive way it did after the shoot-down.
One concrete way to disabuse him of the notion that he has carte blanche to create incidents that could put not only Turkey, but also the U.S., on the verge of armed conflict with Russia, would be for the U.S. Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister to coordinate a statement on what we believe was a classic false-flag chemical attack on Aug. 21, 2013, facilitated by the Turks and aimed at mousetrapping President Obama into a major attack on Syria.
One of our colleagues, a seasoned analyst of Turkish affairs, put it this way: “Erdogan is even more dangerous if he thinks that he now has NATO license to bait Russia — as he did with the shoot-down. I don’t think NATO is willing to give him that broader license, but he is a loose cannon.”
FOR THE STEERING GROUP, VETERAN INTELLIGENCE PROFESSIONALS FOR SANITY
Graham E. Fuller, Vice-Chair, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer
Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council (ret)
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (Ret.)
Scott Ritter, former Maj., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq
Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
Robert David Steele, former CIA Operations Officer
Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)
Turkey’s daily Zaman reports:
Two deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have claimed that the government is against investigating Turkey’s role in sending toxic sarin gas which was used in an attack on civilians in Syria in 2013 and in which over 1,300 Syrians were killed.
CHP deputies Eren Erdem and Ali Şeker held a press conference in İstanbul on Wednesday [October 21] in which they claimed the investigation into allegations regarding Turkey’s involvement in the procurement of sarin gas which was used in the chemical attack on a civil population and delivered to the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to enable the attack was derailed.
Taking the floor first, Erdem stated that the Adana Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into allegations that sarin was sent to Syria from Turkey via several businessmen. An indictment followed regarding the accusations targeting the government.
“The MKE [Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation] is also an actor that is mentioned in the investigation file. Here is the indictment. All the details about how sarin was procured in Turkey and delivered to the terrorists, along with audio recordings, are inside the file,” Erdem said while waving the file.
Erdem also noted that the prosecutor’s office conducted detailed technical surveillance and found that an al-Qaeda militant, Hayyam Kasap, acquired sarin, adding: “Wiretapped phone conversations reveal the process of procuring the gas at specific addresses as well as the process of procuring the rockets that would fire the capsules containing the toxic gas. However, despite such solid evidence there has been no arrest in the case. Thirteen individuals were arrested during the first stage of the investigation but were later released, refuting government claims that it is fighting terrorism,” Erdem noted.
Over 1,300 people were killed in the sarin gas attack in Ghouta and several other neighborhoods near the Syrian capital of Damascus, with the West quickly blaming the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Russia claiming it was a “false flag” operation aimed at making US military intervention in Syria possible.
Suburbs near Damascus were struck by rockets containing the toxic sarin gas in August 2013.
The purpose of the attack was allegedly to provoke a US military operation in Syria which would topple the Assad regime in line with the political agenda of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. […]