Exclusive: Secretary of State Kerry has earned an unenviable reputation for bombastic exaggeration at times when diplomatic caution is needed, a pattern that he has demonstrated again in rushing to judgment over the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
The last time a major war loomed on the near horizon, Secretary of State John Kerry played fast and loose with the facts. In a speech on Aug. 30, 2013, he solemnly claimed, no fewer than 35 times, “we know” that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for chemical attacks outside Damascus on Aug. 21.
Just a few days later it became abundantly clear that Kerry did not know. There was instead a great deal of uncertainty within the U.S. intelligence community. And, to their credit, my former colleagues in CIA and in the Defense Intelligence Agency stood their ground by refusing to say “we know.”
Indeed, the dog-not-barking moment in the Syria-sarin case was the absence of U.S. intelligence officials sitting behind Kerry when he testified about his supposed knowledge to the U.S. Congress. Unlike the tableau in 2003 when CIA Director George Tenet positioned himself behind Secretary of State Colin Powell to give silent endorsement to Powell’s false allegations about Iraqi WMD to the United Nations Security Council, Kerry had no such support when he made his case against Syria’s government, although the clueless U.S. mainstream news media failed to notice this significant absence.
We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) tried to alert President Barack Obama to this lack of consensus among our former colleagues in a Memorandum for the President on Sept. 6. Determined to avoid a redux of the fraudulent intelligence performance on Iraqi WMD, our former colleagues refused to “fix the intelligence around the policy” again. The opposition was so strong that not even the malleable CIA Director John Brennan could give Kerry the usual “Intelligence Assessment” he wanted. So the best the Obama administration could cook up was something called a “Government Assessment” bereft of verifiable evidence and shorn of the normal dissents that intelligence analysts file with traditional estimates.
The reason for this internal intelligence community resistance was that, from the start, it made little sense that Assad would have launched a sarin attack right outside Damascus just as UN inspectors were unpacking at their Damascus hotel, having arrived in Syria to examine another chemical incident that Assad was blaming on the rebels. Further, the evidence quickly began to accumulate that the Syrian rebels had sarin and that they may well have been the ones who released it on Aug. 21 in a scheme to push Obama across his “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and induce the U.S. military to join the civil war on the rebel side.
At the time, the rebels were increasingly desperate. They had suffered a string of setbacks earlier last summer. The Turks, who had been aiding the rebels, also were growing convinced that only open U.S. military involvement could avert a looming defeat. So they set out, with apparent support of hawks in the U.S. State Department, to mousetrap President Obama into “retaliating” against Syria for crossing the “red line.”
Kerry’s performance on Aug. 30 with all his “we knows” was a clarion call for attacking Syria and might have prevailed, were it not for the fact that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey intervened and talked sense to the President. Less than 24 hours after Kerry spoke, Obama surprised virtually everyone in Official Washington by announcing that he had decided not to attack Syria immediately as expected, but rather would go to Congress for authorization.
How close the world came to another U.S. war was underscored by the fact that after Obama’s decision, France, which had been eager to attack, had to be told to decrease the alert status of the fighter-bombers it had on the tarmac. Israel had to be told it could relax the highest-alert posture of its defenses.
On Sept. 1, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham angrily confirmed that Dempsey’s intervention had put the kibosh on their clearly expressed desire to attack Syria post-haste.
Kerry: Giving It the College Try
But an attack on Syria was still in play and Kerry gave a bravura performance in his Sept. 3 testimony to a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee whose leaders showed by their own remarks the degree to which they, too, were lusting for an attack on Syria. Kerry’s testimony on Syria included a transparent attempt to play down the effectiveness of al-Qaeda affiliates in gaining control of the armed opposition to Assad.
Kerry’s testimony drew a highly unusual personal criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a televised meeting of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council on Sept. 4, Putin said, “He [Kerry] is lying, and he knows he is lying. It is sad.”
But Kerry continued to dissemble. Still arguing for war on Syria, Kerry was asked at the end of a Sept. 9 press conference in London whether there were anything Assad could do to prevent a U.S. attack. Kerry answered (quite dismissively, in view of subsequent events) that Assad could give up every one of his chemical weapons, but “he isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.”
However, such a plan was already afoot, being pushed by Putin’s diplomats. Later that same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Syrian counterpart announced that Syria had agreed to allow all its chemical weapons to be removed and destroyed. Cutting out Kerry, Obama had cut a deal directly with Putin. All Syria’s chemical weapons have now been destroyed.
So this is the backdrop against which to give credence, or not, to Kerry’s stacking up the evidence against Russia for the shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner on Thursday over Ukraine.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as a CIA analyst for 27 years.
From the point of view of Europe (I am writing from somewhere there) Obama has achieved remarkably little in his presidency, despite the wild celebrations of his victory and the charade of the Nobel Peace Prize. However, he may be remembered as an astoundingly successful propagandist. Whatever Obama says, is repeated, parrot-like, by European leaders, and even Ban Ki-Moon (poor bewildered soul). Raise the topic of Gaza, and instantly the Obama doctrine is on their lips: “Hamas is attacking Israel who has the right to defend itself”…that’s it, except when Harper in Canada, who is more deranged than most, add the Obama cherry on the top: “unconditional support for Israel”. Raise the topic of the downed Malaysian airline, and, strutting in line with Obama, and despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever, its Putin’s fault. O, and the people resisting the thuggish rule of a nazi-oriented regime in Kiev, are “terrorists” even although they are doing just what the Ukranians in Kiev did with massive White House cheering, at the start of this sorry affair.
So what accounts for Obama’s success ? His lies are as shabby and obvious as those of Bush. and are almost always revealed. Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, and “bat-shit crazy” (John Pilger’s term, I think) Samatha Power, are no better than Condeleeza Rice, John Bolton, and Colin Powell. Yet Bush created skepticism among most European leaders, and Obama, despite his outrageous surveillance programme, is treated as the font of wisdom. Can I be forgiven for thinking that the reason Obama’s propaganda is so successful, is that European leaders refuse to say that a black president is a liar ? Would he be as successful if he were white ?
Any other explanations gratefully anticipated.
The collapse of the Ukrainian government this past week must have something to do with the airliner shootdown – “creating a failed state” comes to mind!!
A favorite tactic of the world domination criminal gang [AKA US Govt] is to create a failed state of a nation that gives America a strategic advantage of some kind – natural resources is one, and geo-political status is another. The Ukraine is on Russia’s doorstep, and America would love to be invited there.
The official requests coming from Poroshenko, who remains as President, is, quote:
“deployment of US and NATO forces inside Ukraine in the context of joint military operations with the Ukraine Armed Forces and National Guard.”
In less officious terms he is saying to the USA – “please come help us, we don’t have the money to pay our police and military and NOW LOOK – the eastern separatist terrorists are shooting down passenger planes”
A haircut in search of a brain.
Kerry is, as other folks have noted; a haircut in search of a brain.
What did I do wrong that my previous post looks like a sausage? LOL
Very interesting comments. I am Australian but live in France, and am shocked at the anti-Russian, and especially anti-Putin, comments and actions, especially by the “Obama maladministration”. Fifty years of shrieking anticommunism by the “West” is now shown to be a complete pretence, now that there is no USSR, no communist government in Russia, yet the hatred and destructive behaviour of the USA towards a country that is independent and not a puppet are as bad as in the Cold War.
Hi,since I’m from Germany, I’m not that common with your politicians en detail. But is this guy just plaine stupid, paid,a lying warmonger or just a simple criminal?
My biggest concern is,why must guys like that be responsible for the survival of mankind?
We suspect that we only see the tip of the iceberg. All so called democratic elections in America not truly transparent as people have tendency to believe. They are may be better than in Russia but in America power of money decide who will be the president, and what he is suppose to accomplish. Just look at the situation in Ukraine: American government spent a lot of money to terminate Yanukovych as a president. We would like to ask what for? America does not need a strong Russia – it is understandable. I will skip that “funny” situation when Russia tried to support piece in Ukraine giving them money and persuading Yanukovych to call for election – we all know what happened very quickly after that. But the interesting part is that almost immediately after Ukrainian president was thrown away, the son of American politician took a significant role in oil-gas corporation in Ukraine ( I actually have heard about 3 Americans jumped into deal). Is it about piece or even about America or it is just about money? People of Eastern Ukraine are dying right now for somebody’s nice looking wallets. I can post videos from that region here, but those videos are scary ones. If somebody wants – let me know and I will try.
Anyone who heard and saw Kerryâ€™s Senate Vietnam War testimony in 1971 would be appalled and saddened to see how much his mind, his conscience and his inntegrity have detriorated since then. His inspiring “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?â€ ahs carried him through American politics like the crest of a wave. Without that he would have had no liberal credentials, and would have been what he has always been, a neo-con who married half a billion dollars worth of Heinz Baked Beans.
I am Russian who was born and grew up in Donbass, and then moved to Moscow to study. I am a Canadian now. I am glad that I found Americans who have different vision than American government about this horrible situation. What bothers me about all that ordeal around Russia – evil- need to be destroyed, that majority of people do not understand that western politics do not support peace or their own countries’ interests. Everything now is only about money for somebody’s personal needs. Presidents and Prime Ministers are just puppets in those people hands. I try to search all kinds of information sources to figure out my own opinion and to my pleasant surprise I see that not all people are blind as well as not all journalists are bought. I just had a conversation with my husband and he does not see the point why people in America need to see the truth – by his opinion, Americans are not able to change anything in current situation in their politics. I did not agree with him as you guys were able to show your opinion and disagreement to your government about Vietnam war. Nobody knows what really happened to that plane – may be rebels shoot it by mistake, may be Ukrainian soldiers did it, but that judgemental behaviour about Russia before even start of investigation, just ridiculous and unfair.
QUOTE>What bothers me about all that ordeal around Russia â€“ evil- need to be destroyed, that majority of people do not understand that western politics do not support peace or their own countriesâ€™ interests.<Quote
Dear Olga,you really put the finger on it.As a German,I'm asking myself the same question for over a year,when all of a sudden this manic anti-Russian hysteria broke out.It startet with sublime aggressiveness in the MSM,all through the winter olympics.And when finally Maidan exploded,I was kind of shellshocked, seeing MY countries politicians in the midst of it,supporting NAZIS.Since then i ask myself,am I living in the same country,i used to know as a mediator between east and west.
Our leaders got more aggressiv by the day.I only can assume, taking the NSA into account,that they get blackmailed.Since both chancellor and president are from the former GDR,there must be somthing about their relation with the Party at that time.
Dear gb and Rosemerry,
thank you for supporting my thoughts. I think Germany still has
good democratic politicians, for example, Sahra Wagenknecht. I’ve heard her speech about Russian- Ukrainian situation and everything she tells 100% reflects my own opinion on that subject. I never supported Putin for his internal politics, as I think he could’ve done more to fight corruption and bribery. It was the reason I left the country. But who am I to judge? Russia is a huge country with whole bunch of problems and the country conditions, he got to deal with, were pretty pity. I never voted for him before but, I think, I will now. He gave us back our pride and I, think, he is the only country leader, who is a true patriot of his country.
Bothe the Russians and the US know damn well what happened. Putin is waiting to see what lies come out of the west. He is putting Russia on war footing and keeping his mouth shut. The truth is out and all over Russian TV. BUK would blow the plane to pieces and you would not have the debris field so small. An AtoA missle(s) were launched which disabled the plane and it crashed largely in one piece. I linked to posts showing rod damage to the left wing a few days ago…typical damage from AtoA..and they showed the cockpit sprayed on the left side with holes. The attack was aided by changing the airliner’s course and altitude. The BUKs in Donetsk were backup and were quickly moved out afterwards.
Brilliant analysis John. before the Defence Ministerâ€™s presentation I hadnt heard about the higher-flying Su-25s, so I left the door open for s screw-up by incompetent Ukrainian regulars. Now Iâ€™m with you. Moving the Buk vehicles and sending up 1 or 2 Su-25â€™s buttons it up as a fully-fledged US atrocity. Good point also about the relative damage done by a SA as opposed to AtoA missile. The instruction to alter the 777â€™s course does 2 things. It brings the aircraft lower in altitude to the Su-25â€™s pop-up maximum altitude of over 30,000 feet. The pilot would have had to fly almost vertically at the 777 and keep going until just before his Su-25 lost lift and began to stall and topple back down to earth. The remaining gap would have had to be bridged by the range of the missile(s) itself. Although they had redundancy in the second Su-25 itâ€™s still a fairly demanding manoeuvre, so the SA11 back -up was necessary. So one of them brought it down, by your analysis the Su-25. The second alteration, of (course) direction, would have brought it nearer the fighter and improved the accuracy and reliability of the AtoA missile(s). The SA11 has a lateral range of 45 kms. So this is becoming more and more conclusive. Meanwhile the US is using â€™social mediaâ€™ for itâ€™s data. Didnâ€™t they have an AWACS up at all times, plus the NATO exercises. Great stuff!
It always amazes me. Reading the accounts of world affairs ‘after the fact’, one might think that every inscrutable villain, every enigmatic manipulator and every treacherous deceiver turned out to be just a pitiful buffoon, a feckless flunky or a willing lackey. After the fact, they have no talent, no insight and no native ability. They are universally dubbed self-serving sycophants, puppets and pompous elitists. I have to wonder why nobody seems to spot those egregious character flaws when those same people are in a position to do massive damage on the world stage. But when they’re at the zenith of their self serving influence, they are granted every measure of deference.
Here’s a good example: a guy who studied in France, spoke at least three languages fluently, hobnobbed with the finest families, had successful career experiences in finance and industry, went to war as an Officer, was wounded and decorated a hero, returned to advocate “peace, freedom and equality”, married a fabulously wealthy woman, vastly increased her family’s assets, achieved diplomatic acclaim in arms-control negotiations, and went on to become Secretary of State.
Sorry, folks, but I’m not talking about John Kerry. Well, not directly, anyway. That victors disparage the vanquished is no surprise, but it highlights the complete lack of diplomatic insight that should have been operative at the time. Of Joachim von Ribbentrop, a popular documentary states, “Hitler had selected Ribbentrop to be his foreign minister because he naively believed that a man who had been dealing in champagne would know something about diplomacy.” For the sake of the lives that might have been saved, it’s rather a shame such an insightful diagnosis wasn’t available when Time Magazine named Hitler “Man of the Year”. Obviously, historians and diplomats are as feckless and incompetent as the villains they aspire to quantifyâ€¦after the fact, of course.
That such a man lacked talent, insight, ability or intelligence is factually ludicrous . But he certainly lacked character, conscience or scruples. Unfortunately, it took a world war to bring those attributes to the attention of his detractors. Still, he is regarded as a flatterer, an actor, an arrogant and domineering arriviste and a hapless lackey. Had the war gone differently, he might have one day been Chancellor. I guess if you win the war, character doesn’t really matter. Kerry may be banking on that.
After Goring committed suicide wasn’t Ribbentrop one of the first to be hanged?
Ps FG I always like to read your posts.
Got into a big argument with my girlfriend about Ukrainian crisis. My argument was simply that Russian actions might be justifiable and it’s not all black and white. I think many Americans are not just in disbelief but somehow in super aggressive denial about even remote plausibility that Putin is somehow not the evil bad guy. This is notwithstanding the US’ proven track record of lies and regime changes. The indoctrination appears to just work. And she’s the smart kind, imagine what this does to average folks.
Andrei, I feel for you. The American MSM coverage of this poor planes terrible fate is in full over kill mod. I am with you on how brain washed everyone is becoming from all this propaganda being forced upon us. Like you, I know many people who are buying it all as well. Hang in there. J.T.
Like my mother always warned me, how one lie just leads to another lie. It’s as though Allen Dulles made the modern template for our current leaders. We the people should have rushed the Bastille when they (the Warren Commission) forced their screwy report down our American throats. I won’t even mention what the Gulf of Tonkin incident means to my Vietnam generation. Then there is Bush with his Iraqi WMD’s! Liar, liar, pants on fire. It just doesn’t end. Pass me the channel changer I’m tired of being lied to.
Kerry, the top boss of the Big Liars Dept, has very conveniently forgotten that the Ukraine regime’s fascists (under direct instructions from the CIA) on Tuesday 5th July 2014 threatened the Donbass rebels with a ‘nasty surprise.’ Google ‘Ukraine threatens rebels with nasty surprise.’ And on 17th July the fascists shot down Flight 17. Mr Kerry has conveniently forgotten it.