A Fact-Resistant ‘Group Think’ on Syria

Exclusive: CBS News’ anchor Scott Pelley is known for his clueless journalism which never goes beyond Official Washington’s “group think” and he was at it again in a dangerously provocative “60 Minutes” segment on the sarin gas attack near Damascus, Syria, in 2013, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

On Sunday evening, CBS’s “60 Minutes” presented what was pitched as a thorough examination of the infamous sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21, 2013, with anchor Scott Pelley asserting that “none of what we found will be omitted here.” But the segment while filled with emotional scenes of dead and dying Syrians made little effort to determine who was responsible.

Pelley’s team stuck to the conventional wisdom from the rush-to-judgment “white paper” that the White House issued on Aug. 30, 2013, just nine days after the incident, blaming the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. But Pelley ignored contrary evidence that has emerged in the 20 months since the attack, including what I’ve been told are dissenting views among U.S. intelligence analysts.

Scott Pelley, anchor of CBS Evening News

Scott Pelley, anchor of CBS Evening News

The segment also played games with the chronology of the United Nations inspectors who had been invited to Damascus by Assad to investigate what he claimed were earlier chemical attacks carried out by Syrian rebels, a force dominated by Islamic extremists, including Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the even more brutal Islamic State.

Though Pelley starts the segment by interviewing a Syrian who claimed he witnessed a sarin attack in Moadamiya, a suburb south of Damascus, Pelley leaves out the fact that Moadimiya was the first area examined by the UN inspectors and that their field tests found no evidence of sarin. Nor does Pelley note that UN laboratories also found no sarin or other chemical agents on the one missile that the inspectors recovered from Moadamiya.

The two labs did have a dispute over whether trace elements of some chemicals found in Moadamiya might have been degraded sarin. But those disputed positives made no sense because when the UN inspectors went to the eastern suburb of Zamalka two and three days later, their field equipment immediately registered positive for sarin and the two labs confirmed the presence of actual sarin.

So, if the sarin had not degraded in Zamalka, why would it have degraded sooner in Moadamiya? The logical explanation is that there was no sarin associated with the Moadamiya rocket but the UN laboratories were under intense pressure from the United States to come up with something incriminating that would bolster the initial U.S. rush to judgment.

The absence of actual sarin from the rocket that struck Moadamiya also raises questions about the credibility of Pelley’s first witness. Or possibly a conventional rocket assault on the area ruptured some kind of chemical containers that led panicked victims to believe they too were under a chemical attack.

That seemed to be a working hypothesis among some U.S. intelligence analysts even as early as the Aug. 30, 2013 “white paper,” which was called a U.S. “Government Assessment,” an unusual document that seemed to ape the form of a “National Intelligence Estimate,” which would reflect the consensus view of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and include analytical dissents.

By going with this new creation a “Government Assessment,” which was released by the White House press office, not the Office of Director of National Intelligence the State Department, which was then itching for war with Syria, got to exclude any dissents to the hasty conclusions. But the intelligence analysts managed to embed one dissent as a cutline to a map which was included with the “white paper.”

The cutline read: “Reports of chemical attacks originating from some locations may reflect the movement of patients exposed in one neighborhood  to field hospitals and medical facilities in the surrounding area. They may also reflect confusion and panic triggered by the ongoing artillery and rocket barrage, and reports of chemical use in other neighborhoods.”

In other words, some U.S. intelligence analysts were already questioning the assumption of a widespread chemical rocket assault on the Damascus suburbs and the strongest argument for the State Department’s finger-pointing at Assad’s military was the supposedly large number of rockets carrying sarin.

Possible ‘False Flag’

However, if there had been only one sarin-laden rocket, i.e., the one that landed in Zamalka, then the suspicion could shift to a provocation or “false-flag” attack carried out by Islamic extremists with the goal of tricking the U.S. military into destroying Assad’s army and essentially opening the gates of Damascus to a victory by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.

That was what investigative journalist Seymour Hersh concluded in ground-breaking articles describing the alleged role of Turkish intelligence in assisting these Islamic extremists in securing the necessary materials and expertise to produce a crude form of sarin.

In December 2013, Hersh reported that he found a deep schism within the U.S. intelligence community over how the case was sold to pin the blame on Assad. Hersh wrote that he encountered “intense concern, and on occasion anger” when he interviewed American intelligence and military experts “over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence.”

According to Hersh, “One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote.

“A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information in terms of its timing and sequence to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening.

“The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy.”

Despite Hersh’s legendary reputation dating back to the My Lai massacre story during the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses in the 1970s, his first 5,500-word article — as well as a second article — appeared in the London Review of Books, a placement that suggests the American media’s “group think” blaming the Assad regime remained hostile to any serious dissent on this topic.

Much of the skepticism about the Obama administration’s case on the Syrian sarin attack has been confined to the Internet, including our own Consortiumnews.com. Indeed, Hersh’s article dovetailed with much of what we had reported in August and September of 2013 as we questioned the administration’s certainty that Assad’s regime was responsible.

Our skepticism flew in the face of a “group think” among prominent opinion leaders who joined in the stampede toward war with Syria much as they did in Iraq a decade earlier. War was averted only because President Barack Obama was informed about the intelligence doubts and because Russian President Vladimir Putin helped arrange a compromise in which Assad agreed to surrender his entire chemical weapons arsenal, while still denying any role in the sarin attack.

A Short-Range Rocket

Later, when rocket scientists — Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories — analyzed the one home-made, sarin-laden rocket that landed in Zamalka, they concluded that it could have traveled only about two to three kilometers, meaning that it would have been fired from an area controlled by the rebels, not the government.

That finding destroyed a conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, which vectored the suspected paths of the two rockets — one from Moadamiya and one from Zamalka — to where the two lines intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers from the points of impact. Not only did the vectoring make no sense because only the Zamalka rocket was found to contain sarin but the rocket experts concluded that it couldn’t even fly a third of the way from the military base to where it landed.

After touting its original Assad-did-it claim on the front page on Sept. 17, 2013, the Times snuck its retraction below the fold on page 8 in an article published on Dec. 29, 2013, between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

But none of these doubts were examined in any way in Pelley’s “60 Minutes” presentation. Instead, Pelley simply pointed the finger at the Syrian government, citing U.S. intelligence. Pelley said: “The rockets were types used by the Syrian army and they were launched from land held by the dictatorship. U.S. intelligence believes the Syrian army used sarin in frustration after years of shelling and hunger failed to break the rebels.”

Pelley did note one anomaly to the conventional wisdom: Why would Assad have ordered a chemical attack outside Damascus after inviting in a team of UN inspectors to examine another site? Pelley then shrugs off that contradiction while offering no alternative scenario and leaving the clear impression that the attack was carried out by the Syrian government.

When I asked the Office of Director of National Intelligence about the “60 Minutes” segment, spokesperson Kathleen C. Butler responded with this e-mailed response: “The intelligence community assess[es] with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. The intelligence community assesses that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely.”

In a subsequent e-mail, she added that there was “full consensus on the assessment.”  [For more details on the sarin incident, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Clueless over Iraq

Pelley has built a highly successful CBS career by always parroting the official line of the U.S. government no matter how obviously false it is. For instance, in 2008, he conducted an interview with FBI interrogator George Piro who had questioned Iraq’s Saddam Hussein before his execution.

Pelley wondered why Hussein had kept pretending that he had weapons of mass destruction when a simple acknowledgement that they had been destroyed would have spared his country the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley said in introducing the segment on the interrogation of Hussein about his WMD stockpiles. “Why did he choose war with the United States?”

The segment never mentioned the fact that Hussein’s government did disclose that it had eliminated its WMD, including a 12,000-page submission to the UN on Dec. 7, 2002, explaining how its WMD stockpiles had been destroyed. In fall 2002, Hussein’s government also allowed teams of UN inspectors into Iraq and gave them free rein to examine any site of their choosing.

Those inspections only ended in March 2003 when President George W. Bush decided to press ahead with war despite the UN Security Council’s refusal to authorize the invasion and its desire to give the UN inspectors time to finish their work.

But none of that reality was part of the faux history that Pelley delivered to the American public. He preferred the officially sanctioned U.S. account, as embraced by Bush in speech after speech, that Saddam Hussein “chose war” by defying the UN over the WMD issue and by misleading the world into believing that he still possessed these weapons.

In line with Bush’s made-up version of history, Pelley pressed Piro on the question of why Hussein was hiding the fact that Iraq no longer had WMD. Piro said Hussein explained to him that “most of the WMD had been destroyed by the UN inspectors in the ‘90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.”

“So,” Pelley asked, “why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?”

After Piro mentioned Hussein’s lingering fear of neighboring Iran, Pelley felt he was close to an answer to the mystery: “He believed that he couldn’t survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?”

But, still, Pelley puzzled over why Hussein’s continued in his miscalculation. Pelley asked: “As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn’t he stop it then? And say, ‘Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction,’ I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?”

On Sunday, Pelley was reprising that role as the ingénue foreign correspondent trying to decipher the mysterious ways of the Orient.

Just as Pelley couldn’t figure why Hussein had “wanted his country to be invaded” — when no one at “60 Minutes” thought to mention that Hussein and his government had fully disclosed their lack of WMD to save their country from being invaded — Pelley couldn’t fully comprehend why the Assad regime would have launched a sarin gas attack with UN inspectors sitting in Damascus.

The possibility that the attack actually was a provocation by Al-Qaeda or Islamic State extremists — who have demonstrated their lack of compassion for innocents and who had a clear motive for getting the U.S. military to bomb Assad’s army — was something that Pelley couldn’t process. The calculation was too much for him even after last week’s disclosure that Syrian rebels had staged a 2013 kidnapping/rescue of NBC’s correspondent Richard Engel, whose abduction was falsely blamed on Assad’ allies.

Inviting a Massacre

Besides being an example of shallow reporting and shoddy journalism using highly emotional scenes while failing to seriously investigate who was responsible the “60 Minutes” episode could also be a prelude to a far worse human rights crime, which could follow the defeat of the Syrian army and a victory by Al-Qaeda or its spin-off, the Islamic State.

Right now, the only effective fighting force holding off that victory and the very real possibility of a massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities is the Syrian army. Some of those Syrian Christians, now allied with Assad, are ethnic Armenians whose ancestors fled the Turkish genocide a century ago.

The recent high-profile comment by Pope Francis about the Armenian genocide can be understood in the context of the impending danger to the survivors’ descendants if the head-chopping Islamic State prevails in the Syrian civil war, the possibility that these Sunni extremists backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia might finish the job that the Ottoman Empire began a century ago.

Yet, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the American neocons are still set on the overthrow of the Assad government and continue to pretend that Obama could have averted the Syrian crisis if he had only bombed or invaded Syria several years ago.

The Washington Post’s neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt recited that theme in an op-ed on Monday that made a major point out of the Assad government’s alleged use of something called “barrel bombs” — as if some crude explosive device is somehow less humane than the more sophisticated weapons that were used to slaughter countless innocents by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel in Gaza and Lebanon and now Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

“Obama could have destroyed Assad’s helicopters or given the resistance the weapons to do so,” Hiatt said, arguing the neocon assertion that to have intervened earlier would have somehow prevented the rise of Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. But that is another simplistic argument since there were terrorist elements in the Syrian civil war from the beginning and many of the so-called “moderates” who were trained and armed by the United States have since joined forces with the extremists. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Syrian Rebels Embrace Al-Qaeda.”]

The key question for Syria’s future is how can a realistic political settlement be reached between Assad’s government and whatever reasonable opposition remains. But such a complex and difficult solution is not advanced by irresponsible journalism at CBS and the Washington Post.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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20 comments for “A Fact-Resistant ‘Group Think’ on Syria

  1. Theodora B. Crawford
    April 20, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    So very thankful to have a clear unraveling of complex news stories!

  2. Finn Nielsen
    April 20, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    I watched most of the 60 Minutes episode in question, and thought some short cuts were taken in the reporting. Thank you for clarifying the story.

  3. Stefan
    April 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Excellent journalism Mr. Parry, thank you for all your research and reporting.

  4. Drew Hunkins
    April 20, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks so much for this piece Mr. Parry.

    I watched that ’60 Minutes’ segment and was fuming the whole time as I watched ’60 Minutes’ and its implicit attempt to pin the blame on Assad. I texted a friend during the segment saying ’60 Mintues’ was turning into a propaganda arm for the ‘get Assad’ crowd inside the beltway (Saudi Israeli lobby).

    These types of reports ultimately result in some very distorted and misguided Monday morning water cooler discussions.

  5. Brendan
    April 20, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    “That finding destroyed a conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, which vectored the suspected paths of the two rockets — one from Moadamiya and one from Zamalka…
    … Not only did the vectoring make no sense because only the Zamalka rocket was found to contain sarin …”

    Yes, I remember that, at that time, the Human Rights Watch report seemed flawed because it just assumed that a rocket that was found in that area must have been carrying sarin. It didn’t occur to them that rockets (without any chemical weapons) land all the time in the middle of a war zone.

    They didn’t present any scientific evidence that the Moadamiya rocket contained sarin. All they could say in their report was that the rockets could possibly have had a chemical payload. I could give a link to that report but it’s full of pictures of dead children, for whatever reason, maybe for emotional effect.

    Considering the serious flaws in that HRW report, it’s hard to believe their latest allegations in the past week that the Syrian government used barrel bombs containing chemicals:
    “Syrian authorities appear once again to have shown complete disregard for human suffering by violating the global prohibition against chemical warfare”
    http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/13/syria-chemicals-used-idlib-attacks

    HRW’s credibilty isn’t helped either by its reliance on George Soros as a major donor. Neither is it helped by the revolving door of employees that it shares with the US government, including the State Department.

  6. Gregory Kruse
    April 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    These reports on the broadcast stations bring a new, and old, meaning to the word “disgust”. People who now swallow whole the rotten propaganda from them will eventually disgust, and then maybe they will feel better.

  7. Bob Loblaw
    April 20, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    American “journalism” is a complete utter disgrace.

    60 minutes, the standard bearer of investigative journalism has become a catapult for war propaganda. The New York Times, seen as the primary source for news is merely another catapult.

    Judith Miller is now on a “I didn’t lie” tour answering softballs thrown from every morning and evening “”news” program.

  8. April 20, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Robert, Thank you very much for this excellent response to the ‘group think’ on Syria, as it is displayed in this 60 Minutes Report. Here in Australia, anti-war activists contend with the same group-think in our mainstream media. In the community, there is an increasing cynicism and distrust of official media outlets, but, in regards to Syria, ignorance remains because people don’t have the time to do their own research. This means when journalists and politicians comment on the problem of young Australian Muslims being attracted to the ideology of IS, the premise in most mainstream reporting on Syria, i.e. “Assad is a brutal dictator who is killing his own people” still goes unchallenged. But if you are a young Muslim and you watch 60 Minutes (or listen to the ABC here) and a reporter tells you that the Syrian government is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Muslim children, one reaction will inevitably be to support groups that are fighting the “brutal regime”. You have the option of joining ‘moderate rebels’ who have been trained by America and its allies, or you can join IS or Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria), who claim to be opposed to both the regime and America. If you believe the media stories and have a yearning to be a modern-day ‘revolutionary’, then IS and Al-Qaeda may attract you. How long will it take for journalists and politicians to realise their misinformation is not just helping to determine there is ongoing war and terror in Syria, but our communities are impacted, also

    As well as the analysis by Seymour Hersh, Professor Postol and Richard Lloyd, it is worth drawing attention to that done by Dr Denis O’Brien, an American pharmacologist. After viewing the videos showing the alleged victims of the sarin attack, he wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress to tell members that a sarin attack could not have occurred. In a detailed report written later, Dr O’Brien pointed to symptoms of the alleged victims and also to the stage managing of their bodies. He examined the videos frame by frame, and concluded that it was a ruse. (This does not mean there were no victims. But who were the victims and who were the culprits?)

    There are so many reasons to be troubled by group-thinking. (As well as the media, NGOs such as HRW, MSF and Amnesty, are now guilty of it.) It can jeopardise the ‘health’ and future security of our own society. But what deeply disturbs me about all the group-think reporting on Syria is that the vast majority of the people of Syria are ignored and the united, stable society they were working so hard to create is being destroyed. Reports such as this 60 Minutes one allow a false view of Syria to be created in the minds of people, so they do not protest the destruction of Syria. What is being created is a Syria without love and hope, one without other human beings like us. It is not the Syria I know.

    • April 20, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      Robert,

      Readers who wish to follow up on your article may like to check out a page on the “Australians for Reconciliation in Syria” website: Reference List – Chemical Attack in Damascus, 21 August 2013.

      http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.org/reference-list-chemical-attack-in-damascus-august-2013/

      As well, I would recommend two other websites which help to challenge the group-think on Syria: “A Closer Look On Syria” and “Syrian Solidarity Movement”.

      http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page
      http://www.syriasolidaritymovement.org

      And on the question of being attracted to a ‘revolution’, in the 1970s I was prepared to believe that a utopia of sorts was being created in China by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. I went to live in ‘Red China’. Fortunately, my idealism didn’t hurt anyone, and when I ‘woke up’ to a clearer reality, that didn’t hurt anyone either. (And I still maintained my belief in humanity and a fire in my belly. ) I have written recently about that experience.

      https://taoismandsufis.wordpress.com

      Regards,

      Susan

      National Coordinator of “Australians for Reconciliation in Syria” (AMRIS)

    • Rob Roy
      April 21, 2015 at 1:12 am

      Susan Dirgham, Robert Parry is alway right on target, isn’t he, and thank you for your insightful letter. The comment below I wrote in August, 2013 and find it holds up today. I knew when I heard UN investigator Carla del Ponte say what she found in the first investigation, she would never be heard from again. I wonder if Mr. Parry heard her, too.
      my response to : “Syrian Rebels Accuse Government of Chemical Attack” article in the NYT
      Once again, the U.S. has zero proof the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, just as it has zero proof the Iranians are going to make a nuclear weapon. It’s propaganda and false flags. Assad is not stupid; he would have to be to use chemicals…what would be his purpose? Now the UN has an investigation team, apparently for the first time. That’s a lie. What about the first investigation? A few months back a UN investigation into chemical use allegations was completed; the UN found, as reported by Carla del Ponte, that chemical weapons were used by the rebels “not the government.” I heard her say this myself.  But, surprise, we’ve never heard from her again or anything else about her report.  It wasn’t something the U.S. government wanted to hear. Now, a new group will be investigating (pretending it’s the first investigation).  Bets on how this second investigation with turn out? Why do so many commentators on this article jump immediately on the bandwagon without any proof and vilify everyone who questions that the “red line” was laid out by Assad? Our government is clever about manufacturing consent to do whatever dastardly thing they want, all to gain power and control over all the world’s resources, by whatever means they deem necessary. If you are not sickened by what the Bush, and now the Obama administrations have done to the world, you have not been paying attention.

  9. Gail
    April 20, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Very interesting that after all this time and the total debunking the myth of the ‘Assad used Sarin on his Owen people’ 60 Minutes revives all the out right lies and errors in the US investigation into the Sarin attack. So who paid 60 minutes and how much to do this. The why is obviously to rekindle the bombing of Syria. Finding that out the who and how much answers would be the investigative story of the year. In the meantime, as RT always says “question more”, especially if it’s from US main stream media.

  10. Martin Katchen
    April 21, 2015 at 2:24 am

    It is indeed interesting that this story is coming out at a time when the Syrian Government is on the ropes at least in Damascus due to the occupation of Al Yarmouk Refugee Camp by ISIS.

  11. jimbo
    April 21, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Geez, I saw this 60 Minutes bit featured on my Yahoo News front page and knew it was bullshit. BTY, Yahoo News is a prime source of the anti-Putin, rah! rah! America bullshit Mr. Parry exposes.

  12. jimbo
    April 21, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Geez, I saw this 60 Minutes bit featured on my Yahoo News front page and knew it was bullshit. BTY, Yahoo News is a prime source of the anti-Putin, rah! rah! America bullshit Mr. Parry exposes.

  13. Peter Loeb
    April 21, 2015 at 6:26 am

    DITTO

    Nothing consequential to add to the many thanks from commenters above.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA ,USA

  14. Bill Bodden
    April 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you for this report. I turned off ’60 Minutes’ after a few minutes when it became obvious that this once-reputable program had now joined Bob Schieffer and the rest of CBS News in promoting the neocon and other right-wingers agenda. What a change from Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite to this lot.

  15. Don
    April 21, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you, Robert, for this article. I watched Pelley on 60 Minutes and had the same outrage you had, and the others here who have commented. One added detail for those who didn’t see the episode: the placement of the issue addressing why would someone launch a chemical weapons attack when UN inspectors had just come into Damascus itself was at the tail end, where Pelley was asking his guest, an inspector, the question. The guest said he didn’t know.

    The obvious follow-up could have, and should have been, the question: “Might it be possible that it was not Assad’s government?” But no such thing from either of them, of course. Just silence and the close of the program.

    Pelley might also have asked why there would have been such an attack by the Syrian government when the Syrian forces by that point had taken the upper hand in the fighting.
    Of course, no such question.

    For those who have missed one of Pelley’s great “gems” in recent years, I will mention the following, during one of his regular CBS Evening News programs. He was addressing Iran. He announced that not only did Iran have a nuclear weapons program, but had a nuclear bomb.
    That was perhaps four or five years ago. The 16 intelligence gathering agencies of the US Government had had an Iran Intelligence Estimate already in place, publicly known, that Iran had neither a bomb, nor even a program for one. The Mossad was in agreement. But Pelley knew differently.

    Thanks to all who have contributed here!

  16. Canuck in Ottawa, Canada
    April 21, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Here is the problem as I see it.

    Ten people have seen the 60 minutes segment and have commented on its inaccurancy. Meanwhile a “million” misinformed, ill-informed and ignornants have bought into the “Assad gassed his people” mantra.

    Same crap, different day. Same as Ukraine, same as 9/11, same as ALL of the lies.

    How does this change?

    I have been a student of 9/11 since day 1. I do not and cannot understand how 9/11 has been ‘hidden’ for 13 1/2 years.

    The Ukraine coup business makes me ill to my stomach. We know the truth, why can’t it be disseminated to the masses? Yes, I know…the crooked MSM but how do we work around this?

    ConsortiumNews has perfect article after perfect article, truth after truth, where does it go, what does it do?

    I follow a dozen or more ‘Alternate News’ sites, the truth is quite easy to find.

    Why? Why? Why?

    Are the 1% aware and the 99%’ers corrupt, bought, stupid, crazy, etc ?

    Should I care anymore?

    I am waiting for September for the final report of MH17. If this turns out bad (lies), I am afraid I will give up.

    Frustrated, confused and pissed right off.

  17. Coleen Rowley
    April 21, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    The Syrian who was interviewed by Pelley, whose true name is Eid but who formerly went by his “nom de guerre” (war pseudonym) Qusai Zakarya, spoke in Minnesota many months ago, shortly after he was somehow spirited out of Syria and made his way directly to sit by Samantha Power as she castigated Russia in a speech about Syria, using Eid as a kind of “prop.” Pelley probably took Samantha Power’s word to also use Eid.

    Eid is good at telling fantastic stories that even the NYT describes as “youthful megalomania” which promote himself as a revolutionary hero. (The paper even reported that the young Syrian pictures himself as Ben Affleck in the movie “Argo” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/30/world/middleeast/a-rebel-leader-retreats-from-syria-to-fight-another-day.html?_r=0 ) But did anyone at “60 Minutes” or the other news agencies actually investigate Eid’s claims or polygraph him to find out if his stories are not akin to “Curveball’s”?

    Eid’s different public accounts of his actions in being overcome by Sarin in Moadamya vary greatly. When Eid spoke in Minnesota, he used his emotional appeal to carefully call for US military intervention to topple Assad (since he was speaking to the “Friends for a Nonviolent World” which is supposed to be a peace group). In February, he wrote a Washington Post op-ed in opposition to the UN effort to obtain a ceasefire in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria. He also makes rather bizarre claims, impossible to verify, that Assad’s generals and aides approached him with offers for him to become their spokesman and to turn his back on his rebel colleagues but he turned them down. He’s reportedly called an opportunist by some of his former Syrian colleagues for having taken up residence in the U.S. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-assad-regime-does-not-honor-local-cease-fires-in-syria/2015/02/20/acbb2c22-b3d2-11e4-886b-c22184f27c35_story.html

    Of course the CBS show treated Eid’s information as the gospel and didn’t investigate the factual incongruence in the different versions of his narrative. Pelley was also careful not to divulge the indications of Eid’s “youthful megalomania.”

    • Brendan
      April 22, 2015 at 10:55 am

      I was wondering why CBS broadcast the program more than a year and a half after the Damascus attack. I haven’t seen the program, only the article on the CBS website, but it doesn’t seem to contain any new information, only the same old discredited allegations.

      I guess now that it has something to do with the fact that Kassem Al-Hajj Eid has US residency and is trying to make a name for himself in the US. That would make it easy for CBS to put together a cheap TV program without much research, using him as a star witness to the sarin attack.

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