Exclusive: Amid Official Washington’s desire to censor non-official news on the Internet, it’s worth remembering how the lack of mainstream skepticism almost led the U.S. into a war on Syria, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
A review of events leading to the very edge of full-blown U.S. shock-and-awe on Syria three years ago provides a case study with important lessons for new policymakers as they begin to arrive in Washington.
It is high time to expose the whys and wherefores of the almost-successful attempt to mousetrap President Barack Obama into an open attack on Syria three years ago. Little-known and still less appreciated is the last-minute intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin as deus ex machina rescuing Obama from the corner into which he had let himself be painted.
Accumulating evidence offers persuasive proof that Syrian rebels supported by Turkish intelligence – not Syrian Army troops – bear responsibility for the infamous sarin nerve-gas attack killing hundreds of people on Aug. 21, 2013 in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus. The incident bears all the earmarks of a false-flag attack.
But U.S. and other “rebel-friendly” media outlets wasted no time in offering “compelling” evidence from “social media” – which Secretary of State John Kerry described as an “extraordinary tool” – to place the onus on the Syrian government.
However, as the war juggernaut started rolling toward war, enter Putin from stage right with an offer difficult for Obama to refuse – guaranteed destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons on a U.S. ship outfitted for such purpose. This cheated Washington’s neocon mousetrap-setters out of their war on Syria. They would get back at Putin six months later by orchestrating an anti-Russian coup in Kiev.
But the play-by-play in U.S.-Russian relations in summer 2013 arguably surpasses in importance even the avoidance of an overt U.S. assault on Syria. Thus, it is important to appreciate the lessons drawn by Russian leaders from the entire experience.
Putting Cheese in the Mousetrap
So, let us recall that on Dec. 10, 2015, just over one year ago, Turkish Member of Parliament Eren Erdem testified about how Turkey’s intelligence service helped deliver sarin precursors to rebels in Syria.
The Official Story blaming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was already collapsing – largely discredited by reports in independent media and by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh – though it remained widely accepted in the U.S. mainstream media which repeatedly cited the case as the moment when Assad crossed Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons and Obama had failed to back up his threat.
But Erdem took the debunking of the “official” tale to a public and official level. Based on government documents from a Turkish court, which he waved before his MP colleagues, Erdem poured ice water on the West’s long-running excited belief that Assad had “gassed his own people.”
But, alas, if you do not understand Turkish, or if you missed this story in the Belfast Telegraph of Dec. 14 or if you don’t read some independent Web sites or if you believe that RT publishes only Russian “propaganda,” this development may still come as a huge surprise, for Erdem’s revelations appeared in no other English-language newspaper.
So, those malnourished by “mainstream media” may be clueless about the scary reality that Obama came within inches of letting himself be mousetrapped into ordering U.S. armed forces to mount a shock-and-awe-type attack on Syria in late summer 2013.
Turkish MP Testimony
Addressing fellow members of the Turkish Parliament, Turkish MP Erdem from the opposition Republican People’s Party directly confronted his government on this key issue. Waving a copy of “Criminal Case Number 2013/120,” Erdem described official Turkish 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 evidence of sarin gas-related 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. Small wonder that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately accused Erdem of “treason.”
Erdem testified that the 13 suspects, who had been arrested in police raids on the plotters, were released just a week after they were indicted. The case was shut down abruptly 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.
Erdem’s disclosures were not entirely new. More than two years before Erdem’s brave actions, in a Memorandum for the President by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity of Sept. 6, 2013, we had reported that coordination meetings had taken place just weeks before the sarin attack at a Turkish military garrison in Antakya, some 15 miles from the border with Syria.
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 earlier, 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.”
It is a safe bet that Secretary of State John Kerry’s aides briefed him in timely fashion on Erdem’s revelations. This may account for why, on a visit to Moscow on Dec. 15, 2015 (four days after Erdem’s testimony), Kerry chose to repeat the meme that Assad “gassed his people; I mean, gas hasn’t been used in warfare formally for years and gas is outlawed, but Assad used it.”Three days later, The Washington Post dutifully echoed Kerry, charging that Assad had killed “his own people with chemical weapons.” And this charge remains a staple in U.S. corporate media, where Erdem’s testimony is still nowhere to be found.
Kerry also didn’t want to admit that he had grossly misled the American people on an issue of war and peace. Just days after the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack at Ghouta, Kerry and his neocon allies displayed their acumen in following George W. Bush’s dictum: “You got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
On Aug. 30, Kerry solemnly claimed, no fewer than 35 times, “We know” the Assad government was responsible for the sarin deaths, finally giving Kerry and the neocons their casus belli.
But on Aug. 31, with U.S. intelligence analysts expressing their own doubts that Assad’s forces were responsible, Obama put the brakes on the juggernaut toward war, saying he would first seek approval from Congress. Kerry, undaunted, wasted no time in lobbying Congress for war.
On Sept. 1, Kerry told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that briefings in Congress had already begun and that “we are not going to lose this vote.” On Sept. 3, Kerry was back at it with a bravura performance before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, whose leaders showed in their own remarks the degree to which they were lusting for an attack on Syria.
The following offers a taste for Kerry’s “protest-too-much” testimony: “the Assad regime, and only, undeniably, the Assad regime, unleashed an outrageous chemical attack against its own citizens. … In their lust to hold on to power, [they] were willing to infect the air of Damascus with a poison that killed innocent mothers and fathers and hundreds of their children, their lives all snuffed out by gas in the early morning of August 21st.
“Now, some people here and there, amazingly, have questioned the evidence of this assault on conscience. I repeat here again today that only the most willful desire to avoid reality can assert that this did not occur as described or that the regime did not do it. It did happen, and the Assad regime did it.
“Within minutes of the attack, the social media exploded with horrific images of men and women, the elderly, and children sprawled on a hospital floor with no wounds, no blood, but all dead. Those scenes of human chaos and desperation were not contrived. They were real. No one could contrive such a scene. …
“And as we debate, the world wonders, not whether Assad’s regime executed the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century — that fact I think is now beyond question — the world wonders whether the United States of America will consent through silence to standing aside while this kind of brutality is allowed to happen without consequence.”
Kerry’s added a credulity-stretching attempt to play down the role and effectiveness of Al Qaeda in Syria, and exaggerated the strength of the “moderate” rebels there. This drew unusually prompt and personal criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin: “Kerry Lies”
Rarely does it happen that a president of a major country calls the head diplomat of a rival state a “liar,” but that is the label Russian President Putin chose for Kerry on the day after his congressional testimony. Referring to Kerry during a televised meeting of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council on Sept. 4, Putin addressed the sarin issue in these words:
“It is simply absurd to imagine that Assad used chemical weapons, given that he is gaining ground. After all, this is a weapon of last resort.” Putin claimed, correctly, that Assad had “encircled his adversaries in some places and was finishing them off.”
Putin continued: “I watched the congressional debates. A congressman asked Mr. Kerry, ‘Is Al Qaeda present there? I’ve heard they have gained momentum.’ He replied, ‘No. I can tell you earnestly, they are not.’”
Putin continued, “The main combat unit, the so-called Al-Nusra, is an Al-Qaeda subdivision. They [the Americans] know about this. This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. After all … we talk with them, and we assume they are decent people. But he is lying, and he knows he is lying. That is sad. …
“We are currently focused on the fact that the U.S. Congress and Senate are discussing authorization for use of force. … As you know, Syria is not attacking the U.S., so there is no question of self-defense; and anything else, lacking U.N. authorization, is an act of aggression. … we are all glued to our televisions, waiting to see if they will get the approval of Congress.”
On the following day, Sept. 5, Obama arrived in St. Petersburg for a G-20 summit, with ample reason to suspect that Putin was right about Kerry lying about the sarin attack – the President having been warned the previous week by National Intelligence Director James Clapper that there was no “slam-dunk” evidence against the Assad regime. So, Obama agreed to Putin’s offer to get Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction, and the war fever began to abate.
Curiously, Kerry himself was kept in the dark about the Putin-Obama agreement and was still making the case for war on Sept. 9. At the very end of a press conference that day in London, Kerry was asked whether there was anything Assad could do to prevent a U.S. attack. Kerry answered that Assad could give up every one of his chemical weapons, but “he isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.”
Still later on Sept. 9, 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. As soon as Kerry arrived back in Washington, he was sent off to Geneva to sign the deal that Obama had cut directly with Putin. (All Syria’s chemical weapons have now been destroyed.)
Yet, two weeks later, Obama was still reading from the neocon teleprompter. In his formal address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013, he declared, “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 [sarin] attack.”
More Candor With Goldberg
Earlier this year, though, Obama was bragging to his informal biographer, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, about having thwarted planning for open war on Syria, even though that required disregarding the advice of virtually all his foreign-policy advisers.
One gem fished out by Goldberg was Obama’s admission that DNI Clapper had warned him in late August (a week before he went to St. Petersburg and a month before his U.N. speech) that the evidence pinning blame on Damascus for the sarin attack was hardly airtight.
Goldberg wrote that Clapper interrupted the President’s morning intelligence briefing “to make clear that the intelligence on Syria’s use of sarin gas, while robust, was not a ‘slam dunk.’” Clapper chose his words carefully, echoing the language that CIA Director George Tenet used to falsely assure President George W. Bush that the case could be made to convince the American people that Iraq was hiding WMDs.
Even though Obama continued to dissemble and the mainstream U.S. news media has continued to treat Syria’s “guilt” in the sarin attack as “flat fact,” the neocons did not get their war on Syria. I describe an unusually up-front-and-personal experience of their chagrin under the subtitle “Morose at CNN” in “How War on Syria Lost Its Way.”
Nor did neocon disappointment subside in subsequent years. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, has remained among the most outspoken critics of Obama’s decision to cancel the attack on Syria in 2013.
On Dec. 3, 2014, Corker complained that, while the U.S. military was poised to launch a “very targeted, very brief” operation against the Syrian government for using chemical weapons, Obama called off the attack at the last minute.
Corker’s criticism was scathing: “I think the worst moment in U.S. foreign policy since I’ve been here, as far as signaling to the world where we were as a nation, was August a year ago when we had a 10-hour operation that was getting ready to take place in Syria but it didn’t happen. … In essence and – I’m sorry to be slightly rhetorical — we jumped in Putin’s lap.”
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in inner-city Washington. A CIA analyst for 27 years, he has experience recognizing false-flag attacks when he sees them. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which he co-founded, has published several memoranda on the sarin attack.
And there is more:
on June 10, 2013, in an Al Jazeera interview, FSA’s Abd Al-Baset Tawila sets ultimatum to US to finally deliver advanced weapons. If that doesn’t happen in the next month, he threatens to spill the beans “about the use of chemical weapons”,
9 days later the Americans sent the rebels the first “Official” weapons shipment.
Some important links seem to be missing here in particular ones cited by Sy Hersch's article regarding these connections. I found no connections here to Benghazi nor any to Ambassador Stevens. There was also an issue never before cited by anyone that I know of that I stumbled upon which was an interview the day after the gas attack with a tending physician of the victims where he oddly stated that upon his arrival at the scene he could smell strange odors that he claimed were NOT attributable to Sarin gas and that in his opinion the perpetrators must have mixed the gas with ANOTHER type of gas! SIDENOTE (Lets Say it was phosgene gas which could lead one down a speculative rabbit hole that could possibly include an Arkansas connection as well as others including the Ambassadors involvement in the rat line supplies from Benghazi through Turkey to Syria.) The omission of Benghazi here just smacks of a cointel flag here also the fact that Obama and Clinton are only given more fair light where Kerry comes off as a heavy.
Dear Mr. McGovern,
Thank you for a thoughtful essay on the sarin gas “false flag”incident.
I must confess that in the run up to the Iraq war, I believed 100% when we were told it was “Saddam’s” anthrax that was deposited in our news rooms and our capitol.
One hundred percent !
I believed it in the exact same way one believed that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
This anthrax attack attributed to Saddam was an authentic “cassus belli” in my mind.
When it became clear, AFTER we initiated the Iraq war, that the anthrax attribution to Saddam was wholly fraudulent, I was in shock.
What kind of heinous evil would defraud the American people in such a manner ?
To this day, there has been no accounting, no reckoning, for such a pernicious act of “terror” deception.
Why not ?
If there is any integrity, at all,to fighting terrorism, then shouldn’t “terror fraud” as in the case of the false attribution of the anthrax attack to Saddam, be addressed with the utmost urgency ?
The fact is the United States has spent tens of trillions of dollars over the last fifteen years, fighting terrorism, and has NEVER addressed the issue of accountability for “terror fraud” and “terror deception”.
How is that possible ?
How can any war be fought and won, if “fraud” of this nature is allowed to persist ?
I must confess that when the sarin gas “terror event” occurred in Ghouta and was attributed to Assad, I was not sure this was not a case of “deja-vu, all over again”.
It seemed on face, that for Assad, who was winning decisively at the time, to initiate a “red line” chemical weapons attack against the militants, would be the stupidest thing in the world he could possibly do.
Was he just “jones-ing” to have President Obama and the US military enter the conflict and drop fifty tons of ordnance on his head ?
It made no sense whatsoever, even without the evidence (you) presented.
However the dust settles on that event , it seems the “number one” issue that every American citizen needs to address is the issue of “terror fraud”.
If there is no accountability for these deceits when they occur , than our entire multi -trillion dollar “war on terror” enterprise has been a total joke….
A complete mockery of justice, and an absolute waste of time, money and lives.
Yossef Bodansky has never received the credit he deserves for flushing out the truth behind the Ghouta sarin gas attacks within mere days of the attack’s occurrence. Bodansky was the former Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004. He is presently is Director of Research of the International Strategic Studies Association. Bodansky pinned the responsible parties, including former Ambassador to Turkey Robert Ford, in a series of three in-depth articles in the first two weeks after the Ghouta attack:
Yossef Bodansky, Mounting evidence raises questions about Syrian chemical weapon attack, World Tribune (28 August 2013), http://www.worldtribune.com/archives/mounting-evidence-raises-questions-about-syrian-chemical-weapon-attack/ (raising a substantial appearance that the Syria chemical attack was a false flag attack planned with the assistance of or knowledge by U.S. intelligence officials).
Yossef Bodansky, New granular evidence points to Saudi role in chemical weapons attack, World Tribune (9 September 2013), as of 25 November 2015, now at http://wayback.archive.org/web/20140812064951/http://www.worldtribune.com/2013/09/09/new-granular-evidence-points-to-saudi-involvement-in-syrias-chemical-weapons-terror-attack/
Bondansky: Syrian Chemical Attack: More Evidence Only Leads to More Questions (10 September 2013), http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Middle-East/Syrian-Chemical-Attack-More-Evidence-Only-Leads-to-More-Questions.html
See also Yossef Bondansky, Sarajevo, 1995 and Damascus, 2013: The Use of Mass Attack Deception to Decide Wars, World Tribune (22 August 2013), http://www.worldtribune.com/sarajevo-1995-and-damascus-2013-the-use-of-mass-attack-deception-to-decide-wars/
Perhaps as the 7th Calvary was stationed in Rock Springs, Wyoming, after the massacre of Chinese miners, The People’s Republic of China can come to the aid of Syria in it battle royal with the forces of The U.S.A., Israel, N.A.T.O., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and lesser minions and their terrorists at war with Syria to destroy it as a sovereign independent nation state resisting being drawn and quartered as rendered into a new world order.
I love how this place calls itself an “independent” journalist site, yet is now different from the propaganda mainstream outlets they claim to oppose. This place also spreads propaganda, yet call out others for doing so. Spreads tinfoil conspiracies like the boy who cried wolf. Hypocrites here can’t even see what they do wrong (that is, spread deceit and lies themselves and get brainwashed). I’m afraid that McCarthy was a far-left agent himself since he cried wolf too many times like you sheeple. I know you morons are gonna hate me because at least I know when I am wrong. Don’t try any ad hominem attacks; I’m too strong for that. Real people get news from lone wolf journalists. As Chomsky said, All media is biased.
Was ANY part of that supposed to make sense? Incoherence is NOT a compelling argument, Mr. Assad, or should I say Daesh?
The arrival of strong heroes here is always something to remark on.
Obama essentially turned the American people (via the House of Reps) into a direct confrontation against AIPAC and the Neocon’s drive for extension of their Clean Break-wars into Syria as the backdoor to Iran. Even though William Kristol went apoleptic – Jewish power in America blinked. Brilliant…
Real-life Jewish power in the US and Israel is experiencing a transformational American President regarding ‘Jewish power’
Obama’s Transformative Effects on Jewish Power in the US and Israel? – such as stopping stopping Bibi’s in motion attack on Iran in Sept/Oct 2012, stopping Bibi’s Putsch against the US over the Iran Deal, and stopping Israeli Annexation of Palestine?
Obama’s Transformation of Jewish Political Power/Political Judaism in the US and Israel:
1-Stopping Israeli Annexation of Palestine
2-The Dismantling of Israeli Apartheid and the Israeli Lobby
3-The Dismantling of Political Judaism: The Israel Lobby in the US and Israeli Apartheid
What the UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel is going to do is STOPPING Jewish power in Israel and beginning the rolling back and dismantling of the Apartheid
Where does the ADL stand on the Palestine Annexation Law passing in the Knesset and UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel? Thought so…
Where does J Street stand on the Palestine Annexation Law passing in the Knesset and UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel? Thought so…
The mice are going to be seperated from the men – there are no Liberal Zionists/Liberal Kahanists.
Zionism as practiced by it’s Israeli enthusiasts (and they’ve got bells on their toes these days) is Kahanism and Apartheid, and Apartheid is a crime against humanity according to the UN, Geneva, and all international law.
I want Peter Beinart, Jeffrey Goldberg, David Brooks, Tom Friedman, and the REST of the punditocracy on the record regarding the Palestine Annexation Law passing in the Knesset and the UN Sec Co Resolution against Apartheid Israel – preferably sooner rather than later before they begin extensively coordinating their stories. I want them thinking on their feet, in the midst of the shock and awe
The Zeitgeist is against Apartheid Israel and the Israel Lobby supporting it.
The time is ripe for the UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel – the time is ripe for dismantling the Apartheid that will flow from this, as well – these are existential transformational events taking place for Jewish power in the US and Israel.
Barack Obama is going to be known as a Transformational American President primarily for the Successful 2nd American Revolution of 4-2-16 (The Iran Nuclear Deal Framework) which he has led. And it had everything to do with ‘real Jewish power’ rather than stereotypes
It’s a Club of 2 – George and Barack, sorry Abe….
OK that doesn’t sound quite right – let’s call it the big three: ‘George, Barack, and Abe’-
‘The End of Political Judaism and 1P1V1S’
WHEN: Saturday Dec 17 2016, 2:00 – 3:15 pm
WHERE: Otay Branch San Diego Public Library,
3003 Coronado Ave, San Diego, Ca 92154
WHO: Dr Lance Dale
‘Welcome to the [Apartheid state]’ – Tzipi Livni Nov 16, 2016
Livni’s surrender of 1- retained Settlement Blocs, 2- the Wall, and 3- ending of Palestinian Right of Return
Obama’s Greenlighting of the UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel triggered by the Palestine Annexation Law/(Amona)
The 3 Existential Events (seen as such by Israel itself) for the Collapse of Israeli Apartheid:
The Iran Nuclear Deal, UN Sec Co Resolution against Israel, and the ICC
‘The 3rd Israeli Generals Revolt (CIS) vs Bibi and the Settlers’
-The Commanders for Israeli Security (CIS)
‘The Diskin/CIS UN Chapter 7 Plan and the Dismantling of Israeli Apartheid’
The Israeli Civil War:
‘Obama and the CIS vs Bibi, Adelson and the Settlers’
‘1P1V1S (-One Person One Vote One State) replacing Apartheid’
-Marwan Barghouti and 1P1V1S from Shining River to Shining Sea
Political Judaism and Kahanism in Israel and the US – Settlers, the Kahanist Alt Right, and the Israeli Lobby/Jewish Lobby’s Islamophobia cottage industry
‘The Successful 2nd American Revolution of 4-2-15 and the Iran Nuclear Deal’
‘How the Israeli/Israeli Lobby ‘Clean Break Dream’ perished in Aleppo’
Q and A after talk…
If Putin did try to influence the election, and the best way to assure a Clinton victory, would have been for him to come out in support of Trump, surely we know that such activity against Russia has been going on for years with NED, Soros, and who knows what and who else. We are outraged yet how old in the Voice of America. Hypocrisy just doesn’t bother our leaders anymore. Hacking. Only the Russians know how to hack into communications and even if we knew how to do it, it would be unthinkable. Not the American way.
Thinking it over, after a day’s consideration, the power structure attempting to maintain control via this CIA initiative are not only guilty of sedition, but treason against civilization and treason full stop. After all, the Saudi influenced jihadis they support are the same el qaeda types accused of bringing down the twin towers and creating the pretext for the “war on terror.” The Russians and Syrians represent civilization. The (hopefully outgoing) yankee power structure and their western acolytes represent barbarism. Some kind of reckoning (thinking of the German term Abrechnung) with this hostile element is necessary to restore western civilization. The criminal guilt of the existing power structure is revealed by the fact that the liquidation of the jihadi occupation of Aleppo has revealed the copious western provision of supplies of ammunition, food and drugs to the barbarian elements. The white helmets paid for by yankee and western funds are acolytes of barbarism put forward as defenders of the American way, a la batman, when they are really the jokers of barbarism. The Saudi regime itself represents signal barbarism. Obama’s support of their destruction of Yemen is a proven war crime. What is at stake here is civilization itself
Ray McGovern – excellent article! I read your other article, “How War on Syria Lost Its Way”. Another great piece of writing!
Love the part where you hung around in order to educate Joe Lieberman:
“Among Lieberman’s vapid comments was the hope-against-hope assertion that President Obama, of course, could still commit troops to war without congressional authorization. I thought to myself, wow, here’s a fellow who was a senator for 24 years and almost our vice president, and he does not remember that the Founders gave Congress the sole power to declare war in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
So I dug into my back pocket, pulled out my little copy of the Constitution, and carefully tore out Article 1. Then I lurked in the ornate elevator waiting area for Joe and Paul to come out. After the usual pleasantries (all politicians feel compelled to “remember” you once you say your name as though they should), I said, “Joe, I couldn’t believe what you said about the President not being required to get the approval of Congress before attacking a country like Syria. So, here; I tore out Article 1 of the Constitution for you; I have another copy, so you can keep it. Go home, read it, and see if what you just said is correct.”
That took guts. Good for you for calling Lieberman on it. Dangerous, dangerous individuals, these men.
Israel Lobby money backs the more aggressive factions in Western governments, which seek to sabotage peace efforts in Ukraine, Syria and other parts of the world.
Internet-based propaganda launderers masquerading as “citizen journalists” and “independent researchers” are spinning us into new wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
NGOs: Tool of Information Warfare?
The Internet offers a ubiquitous, inexpensive and anonymous method for “open source” deception and rapid propaganda dissemination.
With no credible evidence of crimes by the Syrian government in its battle against terrorists or direct Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine, and faced with the prevailing distrust of the Pentagon or Western intelligence agencies, Washington advanced an internet-based “open source” Propaganda 3.0 strategy.
The Pentagon and Western intelligence agencies now disseminate propaganda by making it “publicly available” via numerous channels, including “investigations” conducted by fake “citizen journalist” Higgins and (starting a few days before MH-17 was destroyed) his Bellingcat site.
The actual purpose of these fake “citizen journalist” deception operatives is to provide a channel for Western propaganda to more effectively reach the public and be perceived as truthful.
As Ray McGovern pointed out in “Propaganda, Intelligence and MH-17” on Consortium News (August 17, 2015):
“The key difference between the traditional ‘Intelligence Assessment’ and this relatively new creation, a ‘Government Assessment’ is that the latter genre is put together by senior White House bureaucrats or other political appointees, not senior intelligence analysts. Another significant difference is that an ‘Intelligence Assessment’ often includes alternative views, either in the text or in footnotes, detailing disagreements among intelligence analysts, thus revealing where the case may be weak or in dispute.
“The absence of an ‘Intelligence Assessment’ suggested that honest intelligence analysts were resisting a knee-jerk indictment of Russia, just as they did after the first time Kerry pulled this ‘Government Assessment’ arrow out of his quiver trying to stick the blame for an Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus on the Syrian government.”
The primary source in both “Government Assessment” episodes, both the 2013 chemical attack in Syria and the 2014 crash of MH-17 in Ukraine, the one person in common who generated what McGovern accurately described as “pseudo-intelligence product, which contained not a single verifiable fact”, was British blogger and media darling Eliot Higgins.
Higgins and the Bellingcat site serve as deception “conduits” as defined by the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Joint Publication 1-02), a compendium of approved terminology used by the U.S. military.
Within military deception, “conduits” are information or intelligence gateways to the “deception target”, defined as the “adversary decision maker with the authority to make the decision that will achieve the deception objective.”
The primary “deception targets” of Propaganda 3.0 are Western government policymakers and the civilian populations of the United States and Europe Union.
Higgins has been actively promoting this deception strategy. In a January 2015 article, “Social media and conflict zones: the new evidence base for policymaking”, Higgins citied “Bellingcat’s MH17 investigation” as a prime example. Higgins’ “overarching point” was that “there is a real opportunity for open source intelligence analysis to provide the kind of evidence base that can underpin effective and successful foreign and security policymaking. It is an opportunity that policymakers should seize.”
US and EU policymakers definitely have seized the opportunities provided by Higgins and the Bellingcat “open source” deception operatives.
Mainstream media go out of their way to mention Higgins’ “confirmation” of the latest propaganda meme.
“Israel Lobby money backs the more aggressive factions in Western governments, which seek to sabotage peace efforts in Ukraine, Syria and other parts of the world.”
Spot-on Abe, spot-on. Over at Commondreams.org I’ve been accused of myopia, reductionism and obsessive tunnel vision for daring to point out the Zionist power configuration.
The absurd propaganda over Russia purportedly “hacking the election” is now reaching a fevered pitch. It’s this type of group think that ultimately hardens into orthodoxy after it’s repeated ad nauseam by all the “smart and most important people” in Washington and the mass media.
This hysteria we’re witnessing is genuinely disconcerting. Like him or not, Trump’s recent riposte that ‘these are the same hucksters who assured you that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction’ was right on target. I’m certainly no fan of Trump — his looming domestic policies are horrifying to contemplate — but right here he’s spot-on.
The battle lines have been drawn: on one side is the small group of critical thinking citizens who haven’t been brainwashed along with Trump and members of his administration (god help us), elements of the FBI and Assange; while on the other side sits the entire mainstream press along with the Rubio types, Mitch McConnels, Obama, DNC, Rachel Maddows, and much of the CIA who are peddling this outlandish notion that the Kremlin hacked the election.
What we’re witnessing is a squalid demonstration of where intelligent critical thinking is at among the public and Washington intelligentsia. That so many otherwise peace loving and intelligent people are being manipulated on this issue has the potential to spiral out of control.
“This hysteria we’re witnessing is genuinely disconcerting. Like him or not, Trump’s recent riposte that ‘these are the same hucksters who assured you that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction’ was right on target. I’m certainly no fan of Trump — his looming domestic policies are horrifying to contemplate — but right here he’s spot-on.”
It is indeed getting scary. Coming home from town this afternoon I heard an NPR announcer interviewing some congressional idiot who assured the listeners that despite the lack of any actual evidence, he knew it really was the Russians who hacked the recent election. Nary a word of doubt from the interviewer.
The neocons are making a mighty effort to drag Trump into their camp. More wars for Israel will surely cure all that ails the US of A.
You’re right on target Mr. Smith, right on target. Over at Commondreams.org I’ve been called “ridiculous, delusional and hysterical” for my initial stance (and permanently correct stance) of disbelieving that Russia actually hacked the election to favor Trump.
I can’t believe the madness we’re witnessing.
One of the most astonishing elements of the present corporate media bashing of Putin and Russia because of their alleged intrusion of the US election to tilt the field in favor of Trump is the air of offended innocence manufactured by the various talking heads and other hacks. How dare these nasty Russians interfere with our elections. We wouldn’t do such a thing to them or other nations, would we? Of course not. As the exceptional nation we set the standards for morality and ethics for all other nations.
Similarly, some of these mouthpieces from the corporate media are also engaging in a rehab of the CIA. The spooks apparently have shed their proclivity for torture and lying to Congress and are now selflessly risking their lives to defend our freedom. Maybe they have converted their black sites to soup kitchens to help feed the refugees.
Excellent and timely article, as always. But should one not mention Putin’s extraordinary public intervention in the form of his Sept. 11, 2013 letter to the NYT?
What role did this play in stopping the US war on Syria?
I would love to see a weekly letter from both heads of state addressed to the people of the world. Why shouldn’t the fingers on the buttons that could destroy the planet at any moment not be required to express themselves and debate verbally in public before they do so?
A cogent and thoughtful entreaty by V. Putin.
Here a Canadian journalist who has been to Syria 6 times tells the truth that the MSM refuse to report.
Thanks for this link, just watched it. Very interesting to see how this sparsely attended meeting, apparently from somewhere in the UN, brings up otherwise unreported stuff. Makes me wonder how much else there is that goes on at the UN that the general public never gets to hear. I think all UN meetings, proposals etc. should be publicly accessible. They are not.
hard-hitting and informative video clip!
Thank you very much for the link. As a Canadian myself I am proud to have her, I believe, telling the truth about what is happening in Syria. How can our western media call anyone “fake media” when they push BS everyday – Iraq is a great example of this. Anyway thank you again.
There are some fascinating, yet mutually exclusive propaganda ploys afoot in the current drama. There are some relatively credible (though not necessarily believable) dissertations claiming a “Third Reich” legacy influence behind Trump’s ascendancy. But, we also have this “Putin’s stooge” smear campaign. Anyone familiar with the underlying ideological progenitors must, of course, realize these points of view are counterintuitive and cannot be integrated into a rational explanation. There are also the polar opposites of Trump’s supposed “antisemitism” combined with plausible (though again, not necessarily believable) insinuations that he is a tool of right wing Zionist influence. The notion that a “hack” rather than a “leak” is responsible for Wikileaks’ access to the Podesta emails is also in the mix. The source of the emails has been granted greater currency than the veracity of their content. Never mind that, of the thousands of official documents it has leaked, nobody has ever demonstrated any “fraud” on the part of Wikileaks. I believe this is the crux of the Craig Murray article, which I only briefly scanned. Given the dichotomy of propaganda ploys, one must assume that there are two factions vying to control the outcome of the election, but they both have the same goal: to prevent a Trump Presidency. It appears that the neocon wet-dream of regime change in Syria has now succumbed to wakeupus interruptus. That means that “One-Belt-One-Road” will likely proceed with the consequent dilution of the Dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency. Recent protestations insisting on “humanitarian ceasefire” would afford the jihadi proxy forces (the Empire’s mercenary army) an opportunity to regroup and/or redeploy to friendlier territory. If they go back to where they came from, that spells potential disaster for the GCC, because those same jihadis are a real threat to Saudi legitimacy. The “house of cards” threatens to collapse, and along with it, the U.S. economy. Occam’s Razor insists that a “leak” is easier to accomplish than a “hack”. But take a hard look at what’s in the “leak”. It’s a bunch of REALLY weird stuff. Even if the bizarre “conspiracy theories” are complete bunk, there is still age-inappropriate behavior, morally reprehensible conduct, irrefutable evidence of subversion, and conspiracy to commit fraud. The evidence for incentive to blame this on anybody but themselves – and Putin is the perfect scapegoat – is absolutely overwhelming. True or not, I’m hoping “pizzagate” remains in the national dialogue. The last thing the country needs is another Clinton Presidency.
“The last thing the country needs is another Clinton Presidency.”
Given the totally fake “drama” you mentioned, I completely agree. Even in defeat Hillary and her associates have demonstrated an ability to cause untold damage to the Democratic party and to the nation in general.
The attempt to foment the overthrow of the Syrian government with this false flag event and the propaganda campaign as part of it represent the ultimate in “fake news.” As McGovern notes, the Kiev yankee-backed coup was intended as payback. The present “CIA report” discussed in the fascist Washington Post is the last gasp of this evil, dangerous regime which, if it triumphs, could lead to the ultimate destructive war. I agree with Mr. Hastay that Trump probably can not now be prevented from taking office. I also don’t see Trump backing down and I see serious civil unrest in the unlikely event they can succeed in an overthrow based on this “bullshit” as characterised by British diplomat Craig Murray.
Is it possible that the orchestrated hysteria about Russia and the election is not about an attempt to prevent Trump’s inauguration but rather an attempt to force him to prove his anti-Russia mettle? That is, to force him to adopt the neo-cons’ aggressive foreign policy toward Russia? Preventing Trump’s inauguration would probably be all but impossible now, but compelling him to adopt a policy of hostility toward Russia in general and Putin in particular might be much more feasible than a soft coup. I am almost completely confused by what is going on, so I’d appreciate what other people have to say, just as I have appreciated the comments so far.
Last year when I read about the Turkish MP’s testimony, I also saw, on the same day, an article in The Guardian still claiming how Government forces used chemical weapons in the attack in Ghouta. So, two years later, they were still lying about it and what is more, they locked the comments section. I wanted to post a link, I think it was Sputnik News’ link to the Turkish MPs testimony but it was no go.
Another excellent assessment by Ray McGovern.
Regarding comments about Trump as First Amendment threat. Is not recent conduct of the MSM regarding Fake News and Russian election interference a greater threat? Ought we not Remember the Maine?
Yellow Journalism enabled a war against Spain and an expanded US empire. Are not the successors to The Journal still at it. What shall we call the current efforts to blame the Russians for blowing up Secretary Clinton’s coronation as president? The intent may not be war, but providing an excuse for Congress to prevent a Trump pesdency. Forget not unintended consequences, particularly when neocons/neolibs are involved.
As I said above, Vince, the intent is not a violent coup, as they fomented in Ukraine, but a “soft coup,” one that results in a change of leadership at the top nevertheless. Trump won under the rules, and now they want to change the rules, discredit the rules or enforce the rules such that Trump is not allowed to take the oath of office. At least, that if what I see based on the seven lines of evidence I submitted in a reply to Joe Tedesky up above. Moreover, they don’t even want you to have the right to discuss this possibility, which is why the big move to ban so-called “fake news,” i.e., any narrative that deviates from what they want you to believe. With all these moves coming at once from Obama, the congress, the Clinton camp, and the establishment media, I must conclude that it is an integrated, organised effort–or as Hillary would say, “a vast conspiracy” though directed from the entire elite establishment, not merely its left or right wing.
……….”may be clueless about the scary reality that Obama came within inches of letting himself be mousetrapped into ordering U.S. armed forces to mount a shock-and-awe-type attack on Syria in late summer 2013″.
Am I wrong in thinking that the President of the US cannot “order” a war on another country without Congress’s approval? Wouldn’t this have amounted to Obama not only breaking International Laws against attacking another Nation that had not attacked the US. And ordering an “unconstitutional” war not voted on by Congress. Am I wrong?
It’s wrong if other nations do that sort of thing, but it’s okay if the exceptional nation does it.
The congress constantly bellyaches about it, but the congress abdicated its constitutional prerogative to declare war decades ago, rolling over to the wishes of the president time and again… in fact, now without even his asking. When “pressed,” Obama has reiterated repeatedly that the “use of force” declaration granted to Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, and intended only for use against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, has allowed him to start brand new wars in Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, and carry out drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere. Dubya used it to start an additional war in Iraq which Obama re-initiated after supposedly having withdrawn. I’m sure that Hillary would have used it to justify the entry of American troops into the Ukrainian proxy war (beyond the “advisors” we have there already), as McCain would have done in Georgia if he had won in 2008. If we start bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bombing Iran, I’m sure they’ll also say it is just a legal extrapolation of the “use of force declaration” granted against terrorists (everywhere in the universe) back in 2001. The governance of this country under its constitution has changed more within the last 15 or 16 years than we ever saw in the previous 212 (from 1789).
I wish more people would frequent this site, because I’m getting beaten up over here being accused of being a Putin apologist. Between the people I know who believe that Putin is a dictator, and that the gays in Russia are living a horrible life, it’s becoming even more difficult to describe the truth of events now that most people are convinced that Russia flipped the 2016 presidential race in favor of Donald Trump.
Everyone is aloud to have their opinion, but without them having all of the true facts, how can their opinion even be considered comprehensive of good reason? The American public has fallen victim to a corporate captured press. To even begin to cure all that is wrong in our society is pointless from the start if we aren’t hearing the truth.
Whether it be Trump or Hillary at the helm it doesn’t matter, because the corporatocracy is in charge….well, so far at least Trump isn’t hiding it with his cabinet picks, so that much I will give him. I’m bracing myself for a rough year ahead in horrid anticipation that we will all lose our first amendment rights, and with that we will become the ‘once great land of the free’.
Look at it this way, Joe. 75 years ago the United States was attacked by Japan. Hundreds of thousands of Americans rose to the occasion to defend the nation from the invaders. Now our enemy consists mostly of people attacking from within. It is time again for citizens to rise to defend the nation. It’s a different war this time. Our weapons are our voices and our participation in and support of websites such as this and many of the “Russian agents” listed by ProporNot and the Washington Post.
I have to admit it is tempting sometimes to look at taking a hike, but there are a few problems with that: Logistics, hope we haven’t reached the tipping point, and guilt at the thought of abandoning people such as the authors contributing to this and similar websites. Then, there are also organizations such as the ACLU, Center for Constitutional Right and others of that nature.
Consider also the motto used by General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell during World War Two: nil carborundum illegitimi – Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Thanks for the pep talk Bill. I’m appreciative to Ray McGovern for reporting this about Eren Erdem exposing the Turkish Intelligence aiding sarin gas to ISIS, but I’m a little disappointed in my own news gathering for l am only now learning this for the first time….or maybe I forgot reading this, but our MSM is lacking the news reporting like Ray brought fore here that domes our nations citizens from having all the data necessary to make informed decisions. I wonder if Trump even knows about Eren Erdem…what do you think?
I’m in a similar situation as you on this, Joe. If I read about Eren Erden before it didn’t register. Given our reading habits, it is less likely Trump had any awareness of Mr. Erden. If he didn’t have any business interests in Syria he probably didn’t know that much about Syria either.
I guess in the end Ray McGovern is right, our MSM does not give us all the news required to make critical decisions. So I will thank Mr McGovern for allowing all of us the opportunity to know such news events, and thank Robert Parry as well.
Joe, I have come to believe that i) Obama’s orders (and public call) for an investigation of “Russian interference” in our presidential election, ii) the congress’ commitment to separately do the same, iii) Hillary’s screed against “fake news” and a call to essentially suspend the first amendment and censor the news (which she sees as unfavorable to her in spite of the headlines I read every day… and, I might add, blames on Russia), and, again, iv) congress’ vote to do essentially the same thing, v) which was immediately embraced by the “mainstream” media, and, of course, vi) numerous opinion pieces throughout the media calling for electors to break their pledges, courts to block the inauguration of Trump, congress to post-facto change the rules on selecting a president, and prosecutors to charge Trump with treason for collaborating with “our enemy” the Russians, and vii) (still unfounded) claims by the Washington Post and other “mainstream” sources that the CIA has conclusive evidence (which cannot be shown and will remain “secret”) that Putin cheated on behalf of Trump (who is Putin’s stooge) are all intricately coordinated elements in a “soft coup” attempting to prevent the installation of Donald J. Trump as the next president and his replacement, through court order, presidential proclamation, or some other extra-constitutional device, to be named Hillary Rodham Clinton. That’s what this is all about, same as in the recent election in Gambia, where the losing president refuses to leave office. The ruling elites are going to do their damnedest to prevent an outsider like Trump from filling the office that he won according to the rules. This is a rejection of our constitutional democracy (weak as it is) which has always seen the peaceful transfer of power from the losing party to the winning party every time before. This time they hope to make such a big stink that the system breaks down, that someone in a position of power and authority does something rash. Failing that, their mouthpieces like Michael Moore are calling for a physical disruption of the inauguration ceremony on January 20th. This is the biggest constitutional crisis this country has seen since South Carolina seceeded in 1861.
I think that these things that our congress has been recently bringing to the front have been on the back burner for a very longtime, and with this Russian hacking Hillary business, we are now going to lose our free speech. The citizens of our country have been practicing the methods to do this purge for a while now, without even knowing it. Political Correctness started out whereas to defend minority people when they had had they’re equal rights offended. That’s great, nothing wrong with lending a hand to a fellow human being. Okay, only now we are talking about Patriotic Ideology Correctness….how can you draw an equable line with that? You can’t, and still retain a diverse society. Why hell we all may as well just armor up now, and go kill foreigners just to let then know who’s boss.
It will be interesting to see how Obama explains this and other events in his presidential library.
Rarely does it happen that a president of a major country calls the head diplomat of a rival state a “liar,” but that is the label Russian President Putin chose for Kerry on the day after his congressional testimony. Referring to Kerry during a televised meeting of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council on Sept. 4, Putin addressed the sarin issue in these words:
Perhaps Colin Powell gave John Kerry a briefing on the duties of secretary of state and explained that one of those duties was to lie in support of the warmongers. Whatever happened to the John Kerry who said, “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?”
Mr, Kerry, how do you ask thousands of men, women and children to die in Syria? How do you ask them to die for an evil lie?
A good companion piece to Ray’s excellent article:
Excellent link. Thank you for sharing.
And another, referencing an article by Craig Murray:
Brilliant articles, both the one above and on 4th Media
And this is not fake news:
Some important links seem to be missing here in particular ones cited by Sy Hersch’s article regarding these connections. I found no connections here to Benghazi nor any to Ambassador Stevens. There was also an issue never before cited by anyone that i know of that i stumbled upon which was an inyerview the day after the gassing with a tending physician of the victims where he oddly stated that upon his arrival at the scene he could smell strange odors that he claimed were NOT attributable to Sarin gas and that in his opinion they perpetrators must have mixed the gas with ANOTHER type of gas! SIDENOTE (Lets Say it was phosgene gas which could lead one down a speculative rabbit hole that could possibly include an Arkansas connection as well as others including the Ambassadors involvement in the rat line supplies from Benghazi through Turkey to Syria.) The omission of Benghazi here just smacks of a cointel flag here also the fact that Obama and Clinton are only given more fair light where Kerry comes off as a heavy.
‘Rarely does it happen that a president of a major country calls the head diplomat of a rival state a “liar,” but that is the label Russian President Putin chose for Kerry on the day after his congressional testimony’.
Very true. But then, if Mr Putin had not called Kerry a liar he himself would have been guilty of insincerity. “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead”.
‘He replied, ‘No. I can tell you earnestly, they are not.’”’
Earnestly, but not truthfully – a combination possible only to a full-blown sociopath.
Isn’t time to start using “President Obama,” in place of the sanitized phrase, “Official Washington?”
But Obama is far from the worst of them. There are dozens of horrible psychopaths in positions of power in “official” (and “unofficial”) Washington.
As Lord Acton so truthfully remarked over a century ago, “All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The greater the power, the greater the tendency to corruption – and the greater the corruption, the easier it is to increase power. Thus, just as voltage drives current and current induces voltage, power and corruption drive each other to ever greater heights. And Washington DC has the greatest “power density” in the entire world: an irresistible lure to the very worst of the human species, veritable wolves and hyenas in human form. Obama is a mere jackal.
Much better : ” Washington regime”.