NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims

Exclusive: The New York Times and other major media have ruled out any further skepticism toward the U.S. government’s claim that Syrian President Assad dropped a sarin bomb on a town in Idlib province, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In the old days of journalism, we were taught that there were almost always two sides to a story, if not more sides than that. Indeed, part of the professional challenge of journalism was to sort out conflicting facts on a complicated topic. Often we found that the initial impression of a story was wrong once we understood the more nuanced reality.

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Today, however, particularly on foreign policy issues, the major U.S. news outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, apparently believe there is only one side to a story, the one espoused by the U.S. government or more generically the Establishment.

Any other interpretation of a set of facts gets dismissed as “fringe” or “fake news” even if there are obvious holes in the official story and a lack of verifiable proof to support the mainstream groupthink. Very quickly, alternative explanations are cast aside while ridicule is heaped on those who disagree.

So, for instance, The New York Times will no longer allow any doubt to creep in about its certainty that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad intentionally dropped a sarin bomb on the remote rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province in northern Syria on April 4.

A mocking article by the Times’ Jim Rutenberg on Monday displayed the Times’ rejection of any intellectual curiosity regarding the U.S. government’s claims that were cited by President Trump as justification for his April 6 missile strike against a Syrian military airbase. The attack killed several soldiers and nine civilians including four children, according to Syrian press reports.

Rutenberg traveled to Moscow with the clear intention of mocking the Russian news media for its “fake news” in contrast to The New York Times, which holds itself out as the world’s premier guardian of “the truth.” Rather than deal with the difficulty of assessing what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, which is controlled by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and where information therefore should be regarded as highly suspect, Rutenberg simply assessed that the conventional wisdom in the West must be correct.

To discredit any doubters, Rutenberg associated them with one of the wackier conspiracy theories of radio personality Alex Jones, another version of the Times’ recent troubling reliance on McCarthyistic logical fallacies, not only applying guilt by association but refuting reasonable skepticism by tying it to someone who in an entirely different context expressed unreasonable skepticism.

Rutenberg wrote: “As soon as I turned on a television here I wondered if I had arrived through an alt-right wormhole. Back in the States, the prevailing notion in the news was that Mr. Assad had indeed been responsible for the chemical strike. There was some ‘reportage’ from sources like the conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones — best known for suggesting that the Sandy Hook school massacre was staged — that the chemical attack was a ‘false flag’ operation by terrorist rebel groups to goad the United States into attacking Mr. Assad. But that was a view from the [U.S.] fringe. Here in Russia, it was the dominant theme throughout the overwhelmingly state-controlled mainstream media.”

Ergo, in Rutenberg’s sophistry, the “prevailing notion in the [U.S.] news” must be accepted as true, regardless of the checkered history of such confidence in the past, i.e., the “prevailing notion” that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD in Iraq in 2003. Today, to shut down any serious evaluation of the latest WMD claims about Syria just say: “Alex Jones.”

Thus, any evidence that the April 4 incident might have been staged or might have resulted from an accidental release of Al Qaeda-controlled chemicals must be dismissed as something on par with believing the wildest of silly conspiracy theories. (Indeed, one of the reasons that I detest conspiracy theories is that they often reject hard evidence in favor of fanciful speculation, which then can be used, in exactly the way that Rutenberg did, to undermine serious efforts to sort through conflicting accounts and questionable evidence in other cases.)

Alternative Explanations

In the case of the April 4 incident, there were several alternative explanations that deserved serious attention, including the possibility that Al Qaeda had staged the event, possibly sacrificing innocent civilians in an attempt to trick President Trump into reversing his administration’s recent renunciation of the U.S. goal of “regime change” in Syria.

A heart-rending propaganda image designed to justify a major U.S. military operation inside Syria against the Syrian military.

This notion is not as nutty as Rutenberg pretends. For instance, United Nations investigators received testimonies from Syrian eyewitnesses regarding another attempt by Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists and their “rescue” teams to stage a chlorine attack in the town of Al-Tamanah on the night of April 29-30, 2014, and then spread word of the bogus attack through social media.

“Seven witnesses stated that frequent alerts [about an imminent chlorine weapons attack by the government] had been issued, but in fact no incidents with chemicals took place,” the U.N. report stated. “While people sought safety after the warnings, their homes were looted and rumours spread that the events were being staged. … [T]hey [these witnesses] had come forward to contest the wide-spread false media reports.”

The rebels and their allies also made preposterous claims about how they knew canisters of chlorine were contained in “barrel bombs,” by citing the supposedly distinctive sound such chlorine-infused bombs made.

The U.N. report said, “The [rebel-connected] eyewitness, who stated to have been on the roof, said to have heard a helicopter and the ‘very loud’ sound of a falling barrel. Some interviewees had referred to a distinct whistling sound of barrels that contain chlorine as they fall. The witness statement could not be corroborated with any further information.”

Of course, the statement could not be corroborated because it was crazy to believe that people could discern the presence of a chlorine canister inside a “barrel bomb” by its “distinct whistling sound.”

Still, the U.N. team demanded that the Syrian government provide flight records to support its denial that any of its aircraft were in the air in that vicinity at the time of the attack. The failure of the Syrian government to provide those records of flights that it said did not happen was then cited by the U.N. investigators as somehow evidence of Syrian guilt, another challenge to rationality, since it would be impossible to produce flight records for flights that didn’t happen.

Despite this evidence of a rebel fabrication – and the lack of a Syrian military purpose from using chlorine since it almost never kills anyone – the U.N. investigators succumbed to intense career pressure from the Western powers and accepted as true two other unverified rebel claims of chlorine attacks, leading the Western media to report as flat-fact that the Syrian government used chlorine bombs on civilians.

The Dubious Sarin Case

Besides the dubious chlorine cases – and the evidence of at least one attempted fabrication – there was the infamous sarin attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, when there was a similar rush to judgment blaming the Syrian government although later evidence, including the maximum range of the sarin-carrying missile, pointed to the more likely guilt of Al Qaeda-connected extremists sacrificing the lives of civilians to advance their jihadist cause.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, 2013, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

In all these cases, the Times and other Western news outlets behaved as if there was only one acceptable side to the story, the one that the U.S. government was pushing, i.e., blaming the Syrian government. It didn’t matter how implausible the claims were or how unreliable the sources.

In both the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin case and the current April 4, 2017 case, Western officials and media ignored the obvious motives for Al Qaeda to carry out a provocation, foist blame on the government and induce the U.S. to intervene on Al Qaeda’s side.

In August 2013, the Syrian government had just welcomed U.N. investigators who came to Damascus to investigate government allegations of rebels using chemical weapons against government troops. That the Syrian government would then conduct a poison-gas attack within miles of the hotel where the U.N. investigators were staying and thus divert their attention made no logical sense.

Similarly, in April 2017, the Syrian government was not only prevailing on the battlefield but had just received word that the Trump administration had reversed the U.S. policy demanding “regime change” in Damascus. So, the obvious motive to release chemical weapons was with Al Qaeda and its allies, not with the Syrian government.

Manufacturing a Motive

The West has struggled to explain why President Assad would pick that time – and a town of little military value – to drop a sarin bomb. The Times and other mainstream media have suggested that the answer lies in the barbarism and irrationality of Arabs. In that vaguely racist thinking, Assad was flaunting his impunity by dropping sarin in a victory celebration of sorts, even though the predicable consequence was a U.S. missile attack and Trump reversing again the U.S. policy to demand Assad’s ouster.

Photograph of men in Khan Sheikdoun in Syria, allegedly inside a crater where a sarin-gas bomb landed.

On April 11, five days after Trump’s decision to attack the Syrian airbase, Trump’s White House released a four-page “intelligence assessment” that offered another alleged motivation, Khan Sheikhoun’s supposed value as a staging area for a rebel offensive threatening government infrastructure. But that offensive had already been beaten back and the town was far from the frontlines.

In other words, there was no coherent motive for Assad to have dropped sarin on this remote town. There was, however, a very logical reason for Al Qaeda’s jihadists to stage a chemical attack and thus bring pressure on Assad’s government. (There’s also the possibility of an accidental release via a conventional government bombing of a rebel warehouse or from the rebels mishandling a chemical weapon – although some of the photographic evidence points more toward a staged event.)

But we’re not supposed to ask these questions – or doubt the “evidence” provided by Al Qaeda and its allies – because Alex Jones raised similar questions and Russian news outlets are reporting on this scenario, too.

There’s the additional problem with Rutenberg’s sophistry: Many of the April 4 sarin claims have been debunked by MIT national security and technology expert Theodore Postol, who has issued a series of reports shredding the claims from the White House’s “intelligence assessment.”

Another photo of the crater containing the alleged canister that supposedly disbursed sarin in Khan Sheikdoun, Syria, on April 4, 2017.

For instance, Postol cited the key photographs showing a supposed sarin canister crumpled inside a crater in a roadway. Postol noted that the canister appeared to be crushed, not exploded, and that the men in the photos inspecting the hole were not wearing protective gear that would have been required if there actually were sarin in the crater.

All of these anomalies and the problems with “evidence” generated by Al Qaeda and its allies should put the entire meme of the Syrian government using chemical weapons in doubt. But Rutenberg is not alone in treating this official groupthink as flat-fact.

Four Pinocchios

Washington Post “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler awarded “four Pinocchios” – reserved for the most egregious lies – to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice for asserting last January that the Syrian government had surrendered all its chemical weapons as part of a 2013 agreement.

Kessler declared: “The reality is that there were confirmed chemical weapons attacks by Syria – and that U.S. and international officials had good evidence that Syria had not been completely forthcoming in its declaration [regarding its surrendered chemicals], and possibly retained sarin and VX nerve agent …. and that the Syrian government still attacked citizens with chemical weapons not covered by the 2013 agreement,” i.e., the chlorine cases.

Washington Post’s “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler. (Photo credit: Singerhmk)

But Kessler has no way of actually knowing what the truth is regarding Syria’s alleged chemical weapons use. He is simply repeating the propagandistic groupthink that has overwhelmed the Syrian crisis. Presumably he would have given four Pinocchios to anyone who had doubted the 2003 claims about Iraq hiding WMD because all the Important People “knew” that to be true at the time.

What neither Rutenberg nor Kessler seems willing or capable of addressing is the larger problem created by the U.S. government and its NATO allies investing heavily in information warfare or what is sometimes called “strategic communications,” claiming that they are defending themselves from Russian “active measures.” However, the impact of all these competing psychological operations is to trample reality.

The role of an honest press corps should be to apply skepticism to all official stories, not carry water for “our side” and reject anything coming from the “other side,” which is what The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the Western mainstream media have done, especially regarding Middle East policies and now the New Cold War with Russia.

The American people and other news consumers have a right to expect that the Western media will recall the old adage that there are almost always two sides to a story. There’s also the truism that truth often resides not at the surface but is hidden beneath.

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).

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116 comments for “NYT Mocks Skepticism on Syria-Sarin Claims

  1. April 18, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    I believe the corporate media have become propaganda pushers and their credibility is nil.
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/are-corporate-media-propaganda-pushers.html

    • GM
      April 18, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      It’s important to acknowledge that this has largely always been the case. The newspapers have been a conduit for royalty/corporate power since forever.

    • Erik G
      April 18, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Very true, and I hope that CN guides more to this understanding, offering essential counterpoint to the mass media propaganda.

      Those who would like to petition the NYT to make Robert Parry their senior editor may do so here:
      https://www.change.org/p/new-york-times-bring-a-new-editor-to-the-new-york-times?recruiter=72650402&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

      I will repeat this post less often, now that we have over 200 signatures.
      It is instructive to the NYT that intelligent readers know better journalism when they see it.
      Of course, Mr. Parry may prefer independence, and the NYT will be inclined to ignore all appeals to truth, but a petition demonstrates the concerns of a far larger number of potential or lost subscribers.

      • April 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm

        It is very complimentary to suggest that Mr. Parry should be running the NYTimes, but that would be giving credence to an assumption that somehow that publication is the ideal to which journalism should aspire. I don’t think that is the case. I believe that the NYTimes is what it is, a very good newspaper, journal of record and all that, but, for that very reason, a newspaper that must sort of cover a bell curve of “informed” readers. It’s real goals will not allow it to tell the unadulterated “truth”.

        Consortium News, on the other hand, does not aspire to that general standard, by definition, and is exactly what it is because it chooses to be: the truth source, and, accordingly, a more finely- tuned instrument.

      • April 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

        One further point regarding Consortium News: Robert Parry does not have to worry about what his B of D and Advertisers, etal., think about what he writes. When someone is operating on a relative shoestring, they can concentrate on their real job, i.e. to give their readers what they are contributing (those few that do) for, which reminds me, it’s that time of year again.

  2. mike k
    April 18, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    MSM is owned by oligarchs who lie constantly to gain money and power. They bought the major news outlets in order to turn them into propaganda organs for their schemes. The American educational system is a propaganda device to teach people not to think for themselves or question anything authorities tell them. This situation of a free rein to broadcast lies day and night, and an unquestioning public to brainwash, means carte blanche for these evil men to create the nightmare world that most of us are forced to live in due to the ruler’s insatiable appetite to enslave everyone and dominate the world. And that’s where we are folks……

    • Marc
      April 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Unfortunately, all too true.

    • Skip Scott
      April 19, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Obviously the solution would be to break up the ownership monopolies of the big media companies. Also, I think the propaganda is more refined today than when I was young. At least we had the Fairness Doctrine. The feet on the ground during Vietnam provided some very grizzly coverage of the reality of war that did a lot to turn public opinion. That will never happen again without an end to the MSM monopolies. I am hopeful that sites like this one and “word of mouth” will eventually lead to the average Joe realizing that when it comes to truth in the MSM, the emperor has no clothes.

  3. Sceptic
    April 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    The New York Times is shameless. How anyone can still read it — without blushing — is completely beyond me.

    By traveling to Russia and reporting on its coverage, the NYTs Mr. Rutenberg clearly aimed at adding an additional fallacious argument to his quiver: if you disagree with the Trump government narrative on this one, you must not only believe absolutely everything that has ever been said on the Alex Jones show, why, you must also be in league with the Russians!

    How can NYT’s writers live with themselves? I don’t get it. I think it is part of human nature to want to be allied with honesty and integrity.

    • Lee Francis
      April 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      ”I don’t get it. I think it is part of human nature to want to be allied with honesty and integrity.”

      I get it. These people are devoid of any sense of decency, truth and justice; they are totally amoral. All that matters to them is power worship, money worship and success worship.

    • Jeff Davis
      April 19, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      “How can NYT’s writers live with themselves? I don’t get it.”

      It’s no kind of mystery. They get paid a very substantial premium to sell their integrity. Their choice of “the big bucks” brings with it the need to block out any ethical conflicts they might have. And let’s not pat ourselves on the backs, if we had the the writing skill, the chance to be one of the “important people”, and the opportunity to get paid the big bucks, how many of us would sell out in a New York minute?

      Rachel Maddow gets paid $35,000 a ***DAY***!!! Mammon wins. It has ever been so.

  4. dag
    April 18, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    There are more holes in this Syria story than a Swiss cheese factory, yet somehow it is presented as indisputable fact by the vaunted US press corps, which laughably mocks the Russian press as “state-run media.” The question must be asked: if the US media was actually state-run, how would it be any different? Would someone like Brian Williams, fawning over the “beauty” of US cruise missiles, somehow be any more enthralled by might of the military if his paychecks were signed by the government rather than a Fortune 500 corporation? No, it’s not conceivably possible for US “journalists” to be any more in the pocket of the military-industrial complex than they already are.

    If they are pushing this false narrative of the Syrian sarin attack, it means that the MIC/deep state/neocon establishment have decided on a regime change war. It’s good to point out the obvious holes in the story, but it’s important to recognize why they’re pushing the story in the first place: because they are hell-bent on war.

    • Sam F
      April 18, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      A recent TruthOut article quotes US intel sources that the White House was told by Russia of the coming Syria attack on the Khan Sheikhoun ammo-depot 24 hours in advance, that Syria believed that the depot contained toxic materials, and that the pothole device nearby was set off a bit later. See Truthout at http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40222-new-revelations-belie-trump-claims-on-syria-chemical-attack

      But the interest in blaming Trump (rather than the dark state) for a CW false-flag triggering the Shayrat airbase raid suggests that the zionist warmongers are angry that Trump got a chance to defuse their Russia-gate/Wimp accusations without much military action. They were duped into making another transparent provocation, and got only a couple of minor airstrikes for their trouble. They must be planning another 9/11 now, to blame on Iran.

      • Jeff Davis
        April 19, 2017 at 7:52 pm

        A squad of Mossad commandos disembarks from an Israeli submarine off the Iranian coast. They seize an Iranian anti-ship missile emplacement in one of the caves along the Persian Gulf, and launch some of the missiles at US naval vessels in the area. Iran would be a smoldering ruin before anyone came anywhere near to discovering the truth, if ever.

        • April 19, 2017 at 9:31 pm

          dont be giving them any ideas…they would be more than willing to do just that…

        • BayouCoyote
          April 20, 2017 at 9:48 am

          A USS Liberty Pt II could be plausible when considering their Chew-Pawz.

  5. John V. Walsh
    April 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Another great column on this extremely important subject.
    Bob Parry is to be congratulated for summarizing the material calling into doubt the NYT account of things and for revealing the illogic of the anti-Assad case.
    He is also to be congratulated for his strong stomach since it is increasingly difficult to read the times without retching.

    • April 19, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      As a decades-long subscriber to the NYTimes, who recently pulled the plug on them, I have Robert Parry and others like him to thank for making me finally realize that I was wasting my time and money on the MSM. I just don’t have the time anymore to wade through so much misleading verbiage.

  6. Sceptic
    April 18, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    DAG, in the comments above, makes an excellent point in his first paragraph, one which is too rarely made.

    As someone who regularly surveys the Russian-language media, including television news channels (from Dozhd to Rossiya 1), I have to say that there is by no means less diversity of opinion available to Russians than there is to Americans. In many cases, it is the Russian reader and viewer who is provided with the greater range and depth of information, even though, certainly, there is a dominance of a patriotic line. But then there is also this: in case after case, the Russian government has far less need to tell lies, in support of its policies, than does the US government. As a result, repeating the government narrative involves the Russian newscaster less frequently in the telling of lies than does repeating the narratives of the US government.

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      April 18, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      I also quite regularly read and listen to Russian nedia, and I agree: my impression is that outlets like Gazeta.ru and Ekho Moskvy are much more nuanced than eg Swedish msm incl Swedish tv on foreign policy matters. I haven’t encountered the outright lies that occur in Swedish msm. There is often some leaning in the direction of Russian govt policy, but mostly nuanced.

      • Stefan
        April 19, 2017 at 7:50 am

        I am also swedish, and as an avid observer of international news media, including russian, I concur with your observation.

  7. Harry Castleman
    April 18, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    RP — certainly you didn’t intentionally minimize the horrible chemical weapon-related deaths of Syrian civilians on April 4 when you said it may have been “staged,” a word that implies the whole think may have been a show or dare I say, fake. At least you mentioned Al Qaeda as the potential culprit.

    And tell me it was an accidental omission to not include the number who died (between 60 and 80 people according to several, yes, Western, news sources I went and found), while you detailed the number of deaths from the subsequent U.S. bombing (“The attack killed several soldiers and nine civilians including four children, according to Syrian press reports”). You wouldn’t do that do bolster your own viewpoint would you?

    I get that we need to question official accounts from both sides. That’s why I have donated to Consortiumnews. But if you’re going to cite body counts to help prove your point, count both sides, unless you don’t believe there were actual civilian deaths on April 4. Given the photographic and video evidence (perhaps they got all those kids to ‘act dead’), would be just as ludicrous as you say the NYT’s Rutenberg is.

    • mike k
      April 18, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Staged events often include real deaths. Perhaps an air strike did cause some deaths when a poison storehouse was hit. But the whole Assad did it thing is now known to have been staged. I think you are stretching to find something to fault Robert Parry on.

    • D5-5
      April 18, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      @ Harry Castleman.

      Your sarcasm in paragraph 2 possibly needs another look. Parry does not deny the possibility of casualties in the earlier April 4 event. The difference with his report of deaths from the airbase attack is that he relies on Syrian news reports for those stats, and this sort of info is not available for the other incident, except by sources like NYTimes and Trump. This I suggest is the key difference you’re not looking at and are angry about for some reason.

      “In the case of the April 4 incident, there were several alternative explanations that deserved serious attention, including the possibility al Qaeda staged the event, possibly sacrificing innocent civilians in an attempt to trick President Trump into reversing his adminstration’s recent renunciation of the US goal of ‘regime change’ in Syria.”

      It’s also been shown in examining this event that the bodies and workers handling them do not indicate sarin gas. It cannot be handled by aid workers without protective gear. The gas itself was reported to have a foul odor, which is not the case for sarin gas, which Assad is accused of using. Foul smelling lower order of gas is used with landmines.

      There are questions about the surroundings in several photographs, with the possibility these bodies were already victims prior to April 4 and being stored in caves for this event. Add in that we now know there was advance warning of the attack as of April 3.

      All this complicates the case, additional to controversy as with Professor Postol and Scott Ritter on the nature of the detonation itself, with their view it was exploded on the ground. The number of deaths is not at this time clear, just as it is not yet clear from the MOAB attack.

      Parry’s language is that of the careful investigator. It is a this is what we know and what we don’t know approach, versus that of the NYTimes reporter he is featuring.

      Your language is more suspect, indicating anger and your foregone conclusion that you know how many died in the incident, based on what you’ve been told.

      This in turn makes your claim to support CN suspect, and puts you in with a number of commentators lately coming into CN to attack Robert Parry based on flimsy and nit-picking points.

      You are missing an important point here with your demand of what we don’t know except for the official version.

      • Harry Castleman
        April 19, 2017 at 9:08 am

        D5 — For the record, I have indeed donated to CN. I guess I didn’t know your rule that donors were not allowed to criticize Parry.

  8. Sceptic
    April 18, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    To add one last necessary point, to what I stated above regarding Russian news media: it is by no means the case that Russian media — contra yet another propaganda line repeated ad nauseum in the US about the alleged death of press freedom in Russia — invariably repeat government positions. The afore-mentioned Dozhd, for example, an alternative television news channel, pretty much invariably contradicts the Russian government position, and does so with considerable sophistication, as do a number of well-written print media available to anyone in Russia who cares to read them.

    It is true that there are now, in just the past year or two, new pressures on freedom of speech, e.g. on the Internet and social media users. However, these pressures would appear to be in response to external threats — after all, prior to 2014, despite Putin’s long presence, media freedoms in Russia were, as far as I can tell, essentially indistinguishable from those enjoyed in any European country.

  9. Abe
    April 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    The plum assignments at the New York Times go to those with the least intellectual curiosity.

    One of NYT’s best and brightest, Media Columnist Jim Rutenberg started his career as a gossip stringer for the tabloid New York Daily News, so he’s a bona fide expert in “alternative truth”.

    Second-stringer Rutenberg obviously got thrown the Novaya Gazeta stenography job because famously incurious Michael R. Gordon was busy with the Bellingcat / Atlantic Council stenography big boy job.

  10. Abe
    April 18, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Bellingcat is like really super busy right now – analyzing some holes other than the one in Idlib that didn’t have the air-dropped chemical bomb that Eliot Higgins, Dan Kaszeta, the Trump White House, the New York Times and all the “First Draft Coalition” media partners, human rights organizations, and Western governments said was in it.

    And now for something completely different…

    Bellingcat’s latest spellbinding “report” on Syria
    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/04/18/al-jinah-new-info-and-timeline/

    • Abe
      April 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Over the edge: How to Higgins a hole
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWVNDfDSE44

      VICE News performs a Bellingcat investigation of a minor depression
      SPOILER ALERT: This hole is considerably larger than the one in Idlib

      • Abe
        April 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm

        Based on forensic analysis of this video and other OSINT, Eliot Higgins Tweeted that Bellingcat has “high confidence” that there is something sinister in the hole and the Russians are responsible.

        President Trump has Tweeted in response: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

      • Abe
        April 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

        Real investigative journalists have pointed out that Trump could not have sent this Tweet because it exceeded the 140 character limit.

        Trump actually sent two Tweets:

        “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.”

        and

        “We begin bombing bigly in five minutes.”

  11. john wilson
    April 18, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    News papers and other media outlets no longer produce real and unbiased news or informed comment and haven’t done so for some years now. They are simply government means of informing the public of what the state thinks they need to know. Truth just doesn’t come into it. The investigative journalist is a quaint relic of the past. Journalists of the main stream media are to all intents and purposes, government employees and like the CIA staff etc, they have and owe allegiance to the deep state. Real journalist like manning and Assange are called criminals as would any journalist of the NYT or Washington Post who dared to challenge the Washington view. Parry seems to think there just might be a shred of ethics left in the MSM, but I’m afraid he is hoping against hope.

  12. Bart in Virginia
    April 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Note that comments are not enabled for the Rutenberg piece.

  13. DannyWeil
    April 18, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Yes, there have been journalists in the past swilling to present both sides of a story. But the Washington Post and NY Times have always been a part of Operation Mocking Bird, the Allan Dulles IA project to control all media. In the 1950’s it was as severe when it came to McCarthy or exposing the misdeeds of the CIA that have managed now to control the functions of governments, incluidng the US.

    The ‘Halcyon Daze’ of critical reporting on critical issues really never was a part of the Establishment Deep State.

    In fact, I would say that now with the Internet we have more critical reporting, like this site than ever. The problem is the American will, the polarization and the police state.

  14. Brewer
    April 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    It is established that the White Helmets delivered their film to Al Jazeera before 8am. on the 4th of April (the day of the Syrian Airstrike which occurred between 11.30am. and 12.30pm. It is simply impossible, given the elevation of the sun shown in the video, for that film to have been made on the 4th before 8am.. This is irrefutable evidence that the filming was done no later than the day before the Syrian Government forces attacked.

    • Marko
      April 19, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      The trouble is that if the widely-circulated video of the Syrian airstrike , showing four targets – three generating typical large and upward-billowing clouds and one with a smaller cloud closer to the ground – is legit , then the Syrians are lying as well. Maybe the Russians too. That video clearly shows the sun angle in the way the billowing smoke clouds are illuminated. It is MOST DEFINITELY an early morning scene. The light arriving from the east appears to be almost parallel to the ground. On top of this , you have the radar-tracked flight path of the Syrian jet to and from the airbase , which the Pentagon released to the public on ~ the 7th , which shows the Syrian jet over the target area at ~ 6:30 – 6:45 AM local. That time frame matches the video nicely. Noon does not , by a long shot.

      I still think this was a false-flag operation , but both sides are tossing out storylines that can’t even be reconciled with what we know about how the sun illuminates the earth ( which I believe has been documented to quite a high standard ).

      The whole Syrian airstrike is a black hole. No pictures of the bomb damage , no on-the-ground testimony , and mostly useless crap from the official sources. What we do have is lots of potholes and pieces of pipe , and some kind of weird zombie flick filmed at a clinic built into Chalk Mountain.

      If these governments are trying to mess with our minds , they’re doing a fantastic job.

      • April 19, 2017 at 9:38 pm

        hmm good point i am going to look at it myself…..

      • April 19, 2017 at 9:46 pm

        for being widely distributed…i am not finding it on google or youtube….could u provide a link for the syrian airforce attack please?

        • Marko
          April 19, 2017 at 11:47 pm

          I’m sorry. I just assumed they must have been posted many times before. Just copy each string below , with quotes , and paste and search in Google. Under the video tab , you should get only the one vid. The first one is the air strike and the second shows the haze that has settled some time later.

          Note the morning sun on the left-hand side of the smoke plumes in the first video.

          “v=MYOMEDK_uVs”

          “v=DWvDisOxJi0”

          • Marko
            April 19, 2017 at 11:55 pm

            I wondered if I got sidetracked on the times cited for the air strikes – thinking maybe the Syrian vs Russian air activities got jumbled – so I went back and watched the Russian MOD statement about the Syrian strike. No mix-up. Here’s the search string :

            “v=CaVjtqZwS1s”

          • April 20, 2017 at 9:58 am

            i would agree that the attack in the video is occurring in the morning well before 11am…my problem is the video was posted to youtube on the day before the attack,,,april 3rd…i also viewed alot of staged video…i havnt seen much in the way of real evidence…let me know if u find any more conclusive video…we need to check all possiblities if we can,,,thanks Marko

          • Marko
            April 21, 2017 at 5:43 pm

            The upload time on that video checked out OK , ~8 AM local on the 4th. You can see for yourself using the Amnesty app :

            http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/custom-scripts/citizenevidence/

  15. Jay
    April 18, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Ah, Rutenberg, shaming the memory of David Carr in the NY Times at least twice a week.

  16. Tom Welsh
    April 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    “But Kessler has no way of actually knowing what the truth is regarding Syria’s alleged chemical weapons use. He is simply repeating the propagandistic groupthink that has overwhelmed the Syrian crisis”.

    Here Mr Parry sums up the truth of what is going on. The Western MSM – the presstitutes, as Paul Craig Roberts calls them – have completely given up trying to report the truth or offer a balanced range of opinion.

    Instead, the Western MSM serves only one purpose: to disseminate “the government line” on everything. Only on matters so trivial that there is no government line do the media provide different views.

    The Western MSM can be summed up in one nasty sentence: “If you are not with us, you are against us”.

  17. Herman
    April 18, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Waiting to see what Ray McGovern and his fellow members of VIPS have to say or I miss their commentary.

  18. April 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Abe, your comment says it all, Rutenberg was a gossip stringer for the New York Daily News, was it? He just switched tabloids. NYT has better bonuses?

  19. F. G. Sanford
    April 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Language permits semantic fallacies which, because of the nature of abstraction, enable seemingly valid conclusions to be drawn based on abstractions which have no validity. The “two sides to every story” meme has been used with great success to discredit the truth. While there may be two (or more) “sides”, there is still only one “true” story. If empirical evidence is ignored, the resulting conclusions may range from “misinformed” opinions all the way through “conspiracy theories”. The only real distinguishing characteristic between these “points of view” would seem to be the degree of absurdity of the conclusions which they draw. In the case of the Syrian “sarin” attacks, there are really only two “conclusions” at hand. Either the Syrians did it, or somebody else did it. Among the “somebody elses”, plausible arguments can be made to inculpate several different actors. Among these are those actors who, by virtue of the horror we would rather not address, receive the benefit of the “two sides” deception. In the trade craft, it’s called “plausible denial”. In some respects, this article validates the very semantic deception it seeks to expose. The New York Times has successfully presented two “sides” and convinced it’s readership that anything other than the “official story” is just a “conspiracy theory”. That’s what happens when the media resorts to “on the one hand this, but on the other hand that” semantic prestidigitation. Propagandists love the “two sides” argument. It’s an almost invincible enemy of the “true story”. Deep down, the human psyche is partial to the “big lie”. I’m no fan of Alex Jones, but on a truth-scale ranging between “misinformed false” and “conspiracy theory true”, Jones wins hands down most of the time. Even loons are right more often than the New York Times.

    • Erik G
      April 18, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      I know just what you mean, FG. I recall being approached by an antagonist of a purely charitable project I had started, at our facility, who angrily demanded to know whether I was the founder, and I described the persecution of the project by the local press, who refused to let the public know that it was charitable, and published every unfounded rumor that local hillbilly demagogues could dream up to use against us, seeking to steal our facility for private gain. I described the great benefits our project would have for thousands of orphans in developing nations, an idea that appealed to his wife beside him.

      The antagonist had no counter argument, but looked at me angrily, said, “There are two sides to every story,” and they walked away. This was his way of convincing himself that when the evidence and argument is all on the opposing side, he could simply assume that there was enough evidence for the convenient side, and that this declaration somehow put him on the side of cautious rational analysis rather than blind bigotry.

    • Joe Tedesky
      April 19, 2017 at 1:19 am

      F.G. what you described is easily done inside the narrow ownership of our media. For the MSM Breaking News is the seed, and this farmer of chaos and confusion, knows how he/she fertilized the crop. Like a manipulative defense attorney crossed with a marketing executive this combination could plant reasonable doubt while knowing how to topic each parcel of the news to the appropriate demographic as suited.

      If Alex Jones is suppose to represent me, well I’ll say no thanks, but will it matter? I mean will anybody hear me from out of the box our status quo put me? Along time ago i found out that I wasn’t unique, so I know ‘my type’ is recorded somewhere alongside people like me. Why with the size of the big media players, why wouldn’t it be easy to create a blind subsidiary or back door a small broadcast or Internet site to keep certain ‘types’ busy, and a tad off the mark. I mean there could be so much data and info out there, that a observer wouldn’t know how to tell the real truth from the lies surrounding the true facts. Dastardliy manipulated is all I can say.

      Considering all of that, and considering the sophistication of our modern world why won’t it be astute to admit we are purposely divided? There’s a reason why the Scott Ritters of our geopolitical world aren’t pundit regulars on cable news tv channels, if ever the Ritters get on.

      We maybe near a day where truth in the news will be transferred through a News Under Ground Railroad.

  20. April 18, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    I was a bit put off by Mr Parry stating that he “detests” conspiracy theories. Often what are labeled such are based upon information that has been uncovered by independent investigation and a prevailing power narrative is being challenged, but the information can’t get through because of the power of the prevailing story and its dissemination.

    • Randal Marlin
      April 18, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      There’s a problem in how “conspiracy theory” is defined. When I argue that some conspiracy theories are true – e.g., that a group conspired to bring down the twin towers in 9/11, I’m met with the response that the existence of a conspiracy in 9/11 was fact, not theory. Implicit in that response is the idea that a proven conspiracy theory is by definition no longer a conspiracy theory. I believe that there are true conspiracy theories and false conspiracy theories. But anyone who “detests” conspiracy theories in general, without specify which kind, and without paying attention to supporting evidence or lack thereof, may well have in mind some variant of the definition I have indicated.

  21. jimbo
    April 18, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    “Indeed, one of the reasons that I detest conspiracy theories is that they often reject hard evidence in favor of fanciful speculation, which then can be used, in exactly the way that Rutenberg did, to undermine serious efforts to sort through conflicting accounts and questionable evidence in other cases.”

    I can’t be the only CN reader who is disappointed by this statement. Following RP’s logic there are also any number of further investigation worthy sides to 9/11, Boston, etc., and,, dare I say it, Sandy Hook.

    If Parry correctly suspects an odd bomb crater in Syria, the one in New York was a doozy!

    • D5-5
      April 18, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      @jimbo and Jessica:

      I think we may have some difficulty catching the irony in this statement (quoted by jimbo).

      I’m seeing Robert’s statement as the ironical comment that here is Rutenberg glibly equating any questioning of the official version as “wild-eyed” and “just say Jim Jones,” whereas this official version itself IS the conspiracy theory currently up against hard questioning.

      I think Robert is thus explaining his view as “detesting” conspiracy theories that only work with speculation–just as is being done here in this official version of the chemical incident case, and how many short hours was it after the incident before the explanation/theory was hatched?

      On the other hand, he is surely not against the need for a lot of questioning and bringing into the light factual evidence, as in the 9/11 case, that would not fall into the category of absurd and “fanciful speculation.”

      So there is a difference between “fanciful speculation” and “hard evidence” that is at issue. Once again, as in 03, there is no evidence, only the false certainty that comes from emotional response and leaping to conclusion (if not, additionally, using this response for specific exploitive reasons).

      Confession: I have argued with Robert privately by email on this matter, specific to 9/11, and feel I was a little too sensitive at that time with my dissatisfaction over his viewpoint, so I’m not a blind devotee to him at this point in making my comment here.

      • Sam F
        April 18, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        Yes, RP seems to be referring to theories that he regards as conspiracy theories, ie, those without any discernible rational basis, not any theory of conspiracy. It is a bit ambiguous there.

    • Lois Gagnon
      April 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      Better a conspiracy theorist than a coincidence theorist.

      • backwardsevolution
        April 18, 2017 at 11:28 pm

        Lois – that is funny!

  22. Richard Rosen
    April 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Don’t think you are alone seeking the truth. Read Chris Hedges yesterday, “The Price of Resistance,” a talk he gave yesterday at Princeton. Your loyal readers don’t want you to give up and move on to the next bit of unwelcome news.

  23. HLT
    April 18, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    When I read an earlier Consortium news article were Friedman more or less openly promoted the idea to support IS in Syria in the NYT I very much felt reminded to John Pilger’s report on Cambodia in 1990 were he displayed articles by western mainstream media editors openly promoting the idea of supporting the murderous Red Khmer in order to push back Vietnam’s influence on Cambodia after it liberated Cambodia from the horrific Pol Pot regime in 1979. It’s like history repeating itself, and, of course, if the West could at one point support Pol Pot and his Red Khmer, why not now IS and Al Qaida as long as it serves our interests.

    • Lois Gagnon
      April 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm

      Let’s not forget the US put Nazis in charge of Ukraine.

  24. exiled off mainstreet
    April 18, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    All of these lamestream media apologists for deep state lies are enemies of the people and parasites of the criminal regime threatening our survival

  25. backwardsevolution
    April 18, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    A Ron Unz article entitled American Pravda: How the CIA Invented “Conspiracy Theories” says:

    “Hence, for nearly my entire life, I always automatically dismissed all of the so-called “conspiracy theories” as ridiculous, never once even considering that any of them might possibly be true.”

    He reasoned that any conspiracy would involve too many people to stay hidden for long, and that if even 5% of the evidence surfaced, the reporters would swarm all over it and reveal the truth.

    “However, once I gradually began realizing that the media was merely “Our American Pravda” and perhaps had been so for decades, I suddenly recognized the flaw in my logic. If those five—or ten or twenty or fifty—initial clues were simply ignored by the media, whether through laziness, incompetence, or much less venial sins, then there would be absolutely nothing to prevent successful conspiracies from taking place and remaining undetected, perhaps even the most blatant and careless ones.

    In fact, I would extend this notion to a general principle. Substantial control of the media is almost always an absolute prerequisite for any successful conspiracy, the greater the degree of control the better. So when weighing the plausibility of any conspiracy, the first matter to investigate is who controls the local media and to what extent.”

    http://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-how-the-cia-invented-conspiracy-theories/

    95% of media is owned by six corporations. That is what I’d call “substantial control”. Perfect scenario to hide a conspiracy behind.

  26. Adrian Engler
    April 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Of course, we can ask ourselves to what degree this is new. Media have often been spreading lies and propaganda (gulf of Tonkin, Kuwaiti babies taken from incubators, the plan horseshoe in Kosova, WMD in Iraq, impending genocide in Libya). It is hardly new that they demand that people jump to conclusions on the basis of little or inconclusive evidence when it suits foreign policy goals while setting a much higher bar for required evidence in other cases.

    Still, I think the brazenness of the propaganda has acquired a new, more extreme quality. In my view, the difference mainly lies in the way criticism is dealt with.

    The evidence is very unclear. Since it is very dangerous to go to territories held by Al Qaeda affiliates in Idlib, there are no reports from credible impartial observers from Khan Sheikhun. There would hardly have been a motive for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons, and while it is claimed that the gas was Sarin, the White Helmet videos are not compatible with that. In such a situation, it should be clear that the most important aspect of a rational response is not to rush to conclusions.

    If the term “conspiracy theorist” is useful, at all, it means people who rush to far-fetched conclusions that are not supported by any available evidence. But with an Orwellian twist, we are now told by Western propagandists in the media that, allegedly, in this case, the rational thing is to rush to conclusions on the basis of sparse and conflicting evidence and that those who DON’T rush to the desired conclusions in such a situation are the “conspiracy theorists”. The whole arsenal of authoritarian symbolism with elements like “fact checkers” and Pinocchio is used for urging people to jump to the desired conclusions.

    Sometimes, there used to be the attitude in the Western mainstream media that, of course, we are the good and truthful ones and that this was allegedly based on looking particularly carefully at the options and weighing them rationally, it was just expected that people should believe that this had already been done and people could therefore readily believe what they write. But now, that pretense has been dropped and even the act of questioning is being vilified. The presumed authority is not based on the claim that the media weigh all options and use rational methods any more, but on scary invectives like “alt-right” against those who are not ready to jump to the desired conclusions.

    I don’t know, maybe there were times in the Cold War when the media could treat an allegation X as given by “arguing” that anyone who does not believe X is a communist. But if that’s the case, it would have to be a long time ago.

    I also watch Russian-language media, and while most of them are certainly biased to some degree, they are far from this extreme form of propaganda seen n Western media (mainly the US and British newspapers, but the absurd idea that everyone should jump to the “right” conclusions based on little and conflicting evidence and that everyone who doubts is a conspiracy theorist or Kremlin puppet has also been taken over in some media in continental Europe). The situation with Russian mainstream media certainly is not perfect, but for some relevant conflicts like the one in Syria, they offer more detailed and more diverse information and opinions than Western mainstream media.

    • backwardsevolution
      April 18, 2017 at 8:05 pm

      Adrian – good post.

    • April 19, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Adrian, that is a most coherent description of what is happening with journalists in this Orwellian age, and the degree of twisting facts by media has reached a new level of brazenness, as you say. I still wonder why so many media consumers fail to understand the corporate control of news as mouthpiece for government, since obviously many of us do get that, and there is so much dissatisfaction overall with government.

      In another conversation about the Middle East wars and the “war on terror”, there was much discussion and speculation about the role of the US government, particularly CIA, in the Arab Spring. Some people believed a large role, others thought more that the US took advantage of the uprisings. I had read on Global Research a couple of years ago, 10-29-15, review of a book by Ahmed Bensaada, “Arabesque Americain”, I believe translated from French, and I wonder if anyone has read it. Bensaada traced connections of the uprisings to the CIA and NED in specific cases, showing that numerous instigators in countries admitted they received payment from the alphabet agencies. The title in English is “Arab Spring: Made in the USA”.

      This is all what Noam Chomsky calls “Manufacturing Consent”.

    • Sam F
      April 19, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Good description, especially “it was just expected that people should believe that [looking particularly carefully at the options and weighing them rationally] had already been done.”

      But in the McCarthy era, such deception worked very well. Suggesting that French and Spanish should be taught in late elementary school earned one the title of “communist” in a US rural town, despite a nearby university much larger than the town. Populations that don’t read widely are easily deceived by the simplest propaganda from their sole sources, using absurd claims that they know nothing about. They actually hate those who know more about world events, and suspect those college-educated people of stealing life’s opportunities (advertised products that they cannot afford) from them.

      Now the mass media are owned entirely by the oligarchy, and have proven to themselves that the people are more easily deluded than they had thought, and do not care that an entire viewpoint of current events is proven clearly to be false. On to the next one. The sheep resent being proved wrong, so the discredited viewpoint will again be seen as valid a few weeks or months later.

  27. Jane Meyer
    April 18, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    This raises the question of ” who done it ” ?

  28. Zachary Smith
    April 18, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    I’ve been trying to look up the NYT author with quite limited success. The fellow appears to have been a generic and low-level political writer until recently.

    “The Least Important Writers Of 2016”

    Jim Rutenberg, New York Times
    By all reports a nice guy and also a bad media columnist. Rutenberg took over David Carr’s high profile slot and has thus far produced such profound media insights as “There Are Mean People on Twitter” and “Some Observations About Newspapers and The Internet That May Have Been Interesting in 2006” and “Is It Possible to Turn an Interview With Pussy Riot Into a “Media” Column? Sure.” There are loads of good media writers—both internal and external—who the NYT could have given this job, but did not for some reason. Suggested media column for 2017: The New York Times Sucks at Hiring.

    Not exactly somebody you’d expect to be trusted with a piece on Syria! But Mr. Rutenberg has made a recent surge by arguing during last year’s campaign that Hillary’s election was of such importance that it was necessary to throw out the old rulebook. Early in 2017 he did it again with a title “As Trump Berates News Media, a New Strategy Is Needed to Cover Him”.

    In light of what he has written about the Syrian gas, Mr. Rutenberg’s new strategy to cover Trump doesn’t seem to necessarily be “truth based”.

    My apologies for the crappy (climate change denier) link site, but unfortunately the story here was better than the other two choices I had.

    http://canadafreepress.com/article/ny-times-writer-who-urged-journalists-to-abandon-objectivity-to-defeat-trum

  29. Abe
    April 18, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Washington Post “fact checker” Glenn Kessler recently Tweeted that the New York Times reporting about the “Syrian chemical weapons problem” is “excellent”.

    Speaking of facts, after the election in November, widespread condemnation of Trump’s Tweet about “millions of people who voted illegally” sparked a mainstream crusade against so-called “fake news”.

    Nathan J. Robinson, in a piece in Current Affairs titled “The Necessity of Credibility”, chronicled the Washington Post’s central role in these proceedings:

    “The Washington Post swiftly sicced its top fact-checker on Trump. Glenn Kessler denounced Trump’s ‘bogus claim.’ Kessler gave Trump a lecture on the importance of credibility, writing that since Trump was now ‘on the verge of becoming president, he needs to be more careful about making wild allegations with little basis in fact, especially if the claim emerged from a handful of tweets and conspiracy-minded websites.’ Should Trump persist in wildly distorting the truth, he ‘will quickly find that such statements will undermine his authority on other matters.’

    The media demanded to know where Trump had come up with such a ridiculous notion. The day after the tweet, Trump spokesman Jason Miller was asked by NPR whether there was any evidence to support the idea that millions of people had voted illegally. But surprisingly enough, Miller did have a source: The Washington Post.”

    Robinson said that “it’s noteworthy that the Washington Post so blithely joined the chorus of those treating Trump’s claim as self-evidently bizarre and deranged, while refusing to acknowledge they had themselves helped to give legitimacy to the idea.”

    Robinson pointed out the deeper issue of media credibility:

    “The voter fraud story is indicative of a much wider problem with U.S. political media: its attempts to point out Trump’s falsehoods are consistently undermined by the media’s own lack of credibility on matters of fact. Especially with the rise of ‘fact-checking’ websites, whose analysis is frequently shoddy and dubious, the political media contribute to the exact kind of ‘post-truth’ atmosphere that journalists criticize Trump for furthering.”

    Robinson discussed the Washington Post’s role in media attention to purported “fake news” stories during the election cycle:

    “One of the most ominous and sinister warnings about the threat of fake news was found in (again) The Washington Post. In late November, the Post’s Craig Timberg produced a detailed report alleging that much of the ‘fake news’ on the internet was, in fact, a carefully-crafted Russian propaganda effort designed to erode Western governments through the spread of damaging disinformation. The Post cited a ‘nonpartisan group of researchers’ known as ‘PropOrNot,’ who had ‘identifie[d] more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans’ Many news stories on the internet, the Post suggested, were not news at all, but lies propagated by Russia in order to further its own state interests. The Post concluded that while there ‘is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump… researchers portray it as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders.’

    “The report landed like a bombshell. It was soon the most-read piece on the Post’s website, was covered by NPR, and was being promoted by prominent journalists and commentators as a crucial investigation. But subsequent scrutiny of the Post’s reportage revealed that its evidence for a Russian conspiracy was thin. PropOrNot’s ‘list’ of ‘Russian propaganda’ websites targeted a number of totally innocuous independent media outlets”

    Robinson discussed the impact of the Washington Post’s promotion of PropOrNot’s definition of “fake news”:

    “It turned out that to be classified as a “Russian propaganda outlet,” one needn’t actually be associated with Vladimir Putin or the Russian government. For the purposes of making the PropOrNot blacklist, it was sufficient that a media organization be “useful” to the Russian state. By that expansive criterion, plenty of ordinary political criticism and analysis (such as that found on Truthdig) could be classified as “propaganda.” After all, anything critical of the U.S. government could be considered helpful to the Russian government. The Post’s allegations therefore rested on a dangerous premise: the idea that if one can’t prove one isn’t helping the Russian government, then one is helping the Russian government.

    “Furthermore, the PropOrNot organization itself was highly mysterious and of dubious reliability. Its Twitter feed regularly accused its critics of being ‘fascists’ and ‘Putinists.’ All of its ‘researchers’ were anonymous, and it was unclear what credentials or expertise they had, or who they themselves might be funded by. Thus The Washington Post tarred a series of legitimate independent media outlets as tools of the Russian state, based on the word of an unknown anonymous source.”

    Robinson observed that the Washington Post’s “catastrophically bad reporting on ‘fake news’ illustrated an unfortunate tendency of the American political press. When it comes to news about Russia or Vladimir Putin, all the usual standards of skepticism and caution (as one might apply to claims made by Donald Trump) seem to disappear.”

    https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/12/the-necessity-of-credibility

  30. SteveK9
    April 18, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Alexander Mercouris at The Duran also has a long detailed analysis of the ‘White Paper’ proving that Assad used chemical weapons. Interestingly, statements by Assad are among the most logical arguments against this whole unlikely narrative … heresy I know.

  31. D5-5
    April 18, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Also from the Duran (today):

    “A puzzling new development has emerged in the aftermath of the alleged chemical incident in Syria’s Idlib Governate from the 4th of April.

    “Since the incident, apparently no one in the Khan Shaykoun area has asked for any antidotes for exposure to toxic sarin gas, the chemical allegedly deployed on April 4.”

    This report also stresses that the only information available has been from The White Helmets.

    http://theduran.com/russian-defence-minsitry-no-one-has-asked-for-antidotes-or-medicines-around-location-of-alleged-idlib-chemical-attack/

  32. CitizenOne
    April 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Bingo!

    The NYT argument against against possible alternate guilty parties in the sarin gas attack by linking alternative narratives to conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones have a clear motivation. The NYT Ignores the evidence for a motive and focuses on inconsequential and irrelevant commentary by fringe media outlets like Alex Jones to conclude that there is no reason to question Washington and major media outlets conclusion that Syria was behind the attack since all of those who question the official line are just like Alex Jones. It is guilt by association. Even more, it is guilt by false association. I doubt there is a single post on this website which references Alex Jones as the source of their information. There is no need. The obvious lack of a motive for Assad to commit the crime and the obvious lack of evidence linking Assad to the crime does not require leaning on conspiracy theory or conspiracy theorists to doubt the claims by the government. But the NYT does require linking all claims which contradict their conclusion that Assad was responsible for the crime to conspiracy theorists to debunk it.

    This is not journalism. It is me say, you say journalism which picks and chooses which narrative it wants to support by being on the side of the me say so crowd while linking all the you say so folks by association to the kid nobody likes. It is playground logic. It is the basic unfairness of the majority to spin a story by being the loudest and most popular kid on the playground to turn opinion their way by launching irrelevant attacks, demeaning others, calling them sissies and cry babies all the while being the guilty party. The media is the playground bully hurling unwarranted and unsubstantiated attacks against others relying on the strength of their voice and their popularity to sway the public opinion. They don’t have to examine the evidence. They have the microphone and the ear of America.

    Basic detective work is based on the premise that all parties under suspicion will lie and concoct and fabricate alternative scenarios to put the blame from them onto somebody else. It is the job of the detective to ignore all the stories and instead look for motive and opportunity. When a motive and an opportunity for the crime is found then there is a suspect.

    Based on Trumps decision to walk away from the fight in Syria and let the Syrian people decide the future of Syria and the Assad regime, Assad received a godsend message that the USA would not be going after him any more. He had no motive to conduct the gas attack under the circumstances. Such a heinous crime would just be an invitation for the USA to reverse course and again go after Assad. There would be no reason to throw a Molotov cocktail at the police car that was leaving the scene after the police concluded they were no longer interested in investigating or conducting police operations in the area. It really is that simple. Either Assad is a glutton for punishment and desired the USA to go back at him after they stated they were walking away which I doubt or there is another party with a motive to draw the USA back into the fight they were walking away from.

    But it gets worse with the media and Washington. They have not even provided conclusive evidence that the sarin attack was conducted by Assad. The theory that an airstrike was launched by Assad from the airbase in question has not been vetted nor any evidence for it provided. I doubt that there could be such evidence unless somebody comes forth with some actual evidence.

    Perhaps Americans are becoming wise to the massive propaganda foisted by the NYT and virtually every other major media outlet. The Gallup Poll has conducted a survey which finds that Americans highly doubt that the theory that Assad launched the sarin gas attack story is true.

    From Gallup:
    Americans’ initial reaction to the missile airstrikes the U.S. launched against Syria last week is among the least positive of the 12 military actions Gallup has measured since 1983 or the last 32 years of offensive moves by the US military against foreign governments. Support does exceed opposition, which has been the case for each of the military actions tested, but the 50% approval is lower than all but one of the other interventions. That intervention was the invasion of Granada by Reagan in 1983.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/207518/trump-approval-rating-unusually-low-unusually-early.aspx?g_source=position4&g_medium=related&g_campaign=tiles

    In other words Americans can tell a lie from the truth.

    They have every reason to be skeptical. They were fed a pack of lies that Saddam was responsible for 9/11 and that Iraq posed a grave danger wielding WMD and nuclear capabilities for a dirty bomb attack and were inundated with stories coming from the main stream press which were never found out to be true.

    We have already gone to war based on lies in Iraq and Americans are sick and tired of a government that makes up lies to launch a war and a media which parrots those lies to sell the war.

    Americans are indeed sick and tired of fake news. They are sick and tired of the fake news coming from their own government and the servile main stream media which unquestioningly reports the fake news as truth. The Gallup poll results of Americans after the sarin gas attack show just how fed up we are and just how much we don’t believe our government or our media.

    The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets can haul water for the government but Americans are not buying it.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. The old saying seems to be having a decisive effect on Americans opinion of official government stories which attempt to lead us to war.

    No motive, no evidence, no war! Hey NYT, I hope you go broke trying to sell your lies. I hope nobody believes you anymore. Take your playground bully tactics and hit the road. When the Gallup poll publishes the fact that nobody believes you anymore your time as king of the sand hill is about over.

    • D5-5
      April 18, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      Right on, Citizen One! Interesting Gallup poll results.

      I recall how very bad and shameful it was at one time to criticize the Vietnam War, then how amazed I was to find, in the 80’s, that somehow that war had become deeply odious and hated by the American people, and even by the military.

      Then with Trump in his campaign again I was interested that this man I associated with the right wing and shallowness was stating he was against the Iraq War and didn’t believe there were WMD. Apparently, by 2015-16 and his campaign, this too had now become understood as another falsity.

      So, then, the perpetrators of these official stories are living on borrowed time to make their impact, and given their influence over the corporatized press, they deliberately work to bypass reasoning, ignore history, and cultivate flag-waving emotions.

    • JoaoAlfaiate
      April 20, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      What did the NYT, WaPo and the WSJ say after Colin Powell “proved” in his speech at the UN that Iraq had WMD?

      New York Times: “[Powell’s speech] may not have produced a ‘smoking gun,” but it left little question that Mr. Hussein had tried hard to conceal one.”

      Wall Street Journal: “The Powell evidence will be persuasive to anyone who is still persuadable. …The only question remaining is whether the U.N. is going to have the courage of Mr. Powell’s convictions.”

      Washington Post: “To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make…”

  33. April 18, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Aggression drives people crazy.

    The US is an aggressor.

    The US points at crazy people.

    Stability requires a regime change.

    Increase the anti Eisenhower budget.

  34. mike k
    April 18, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    A conspiracy is when some people come together to plot in secrecy and carry out some nefarious deeds. The US government is a long running conspiracy. Conspiracy is a very common occurrence in a society where competition is fierce, and breaking laws seems profitable. This leads to a lack of trust and mutual caring and respect for morality and truthfulness, and eventually to war. This is how capitalism is the underlying conspiracy to initiate war, and plan it in secrecy, and lie about what you are doing and why. As long as capitalism is the fundamental social philosophy of a society, there will be conspiracies, lies, and violence.

    A just, happy, and peaceful society cannot exist under capitalism. History proves this, besides it is simple common sense,however many convoluted theories are devised to prove otherwise.

  35. Abe
    April 18, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    So-called “barrel bombs” in Syria are Large Improvised Explosive Devices (LIED) detonated on the ground by Al Qaeda and other terrorist forces.

    Western media narratives about air-dropped “barrel bombs” trace back to disinformation operative Eliot Higgins. On his Brown Moses blog in 2012, Higgins claimed that video showing an object being lit and dropped from a moving helicopter was an aerial attack by Syrian military personnel.

    As of mid-March 2014, Higgins and terrorist forces in Syria had claimed that between 5,000 and 6,000 aerial “barrel bombs” had been used during the war, particularly in Aleppo.

    The fact that Syrian cities and infrastructure have been massively damaged, and thousands of people injured and killed by powerful explosions, is not a matter of dispute.

    However, other than the evidence-free allegations of the terrorists backed by Eliot Higgins, there is no credible evidence that proves the Syrian military was responsible for any of these devastating detonations.

    On the other hand, extensive use of powerful improvised explosive devices by the terrorist forces in Syria has been well documented by the Syrians since the start of the terrorist attacks in 2011.

    IED attacks are a primary tactic of the terrorist forces occupying Syrian cities and towns. Huge “barrel bomb” detonations occur in areas occupied by the terrorists. After they detonate the IEDs, the terrorist forces post on social media that they have been “attacked” by the Syrian government.

    The earliest known use of aerial “barrel bombs” was by the Israeli military in 1948. The second known use of aerial “barrel bombs” was by the US military in Vietnam in the late 1960s.

    It appears that the original perpetrators of air-dropped “barrel bomb” attacks have generated a propaganda narrative about flying “barrel bombs” to advance their dirty war against the people and government of Syria.

    The latest “fake news” narrative about an air-dropped “chemical bomb” in Syria died in an empty hole in the middle of a road in Idlib.

    Western media predictably refuse to confirm this crucial casualty.

  36. incontinent reader
    April 18, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    And notice how the Brits have insinuated their people into positions of leadership at the OPCW to be able to corrupt the organization’s investigations and thwart Russia’s call for a site investigation, and one that is fully independent- and with a balanced composition of its chemical weapons inspectors.

    • backwardsevolution
      April 19, 2017 at 12:54 am

      incontinent reader – yeah, they’re going to rush in and cover up the evidence. They should be told to pound sand.

  37. Michael Eremia
    April 18, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Everyone knows that NYT stands for “Not Your Truthteller.

  38. Abe
    April 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    The Western-backed terrorist assault on Syria began in 2011. During the initial phase up to mid-2012, the Syrian Air Force (SAF) was involved in secondary roles, with no firing from aircraft and helicopters. With the escalation of terrorist attacks on Syrian cities, combat operations of Sukhoi Su-22 ground attack aircraft began in the summer of 2012.

    The Su-22 is an export version of the Russian Su-17, which is basically a swing wing version of the older Su-7 aircraft. Armed with two 30mm autocannon and able to carry up to four tons of bombs, the Su-22 is reliable and easy to maintain.

    In February 2013, the first confirmed loss of a Su-22 was recorded, when terrorist forces shot it down using a MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System) surface-to-air missile launcher. Seven SAF Su-22 losses are recorded to date.

    The SAF has relied on Russia and Iran to help maintain its aircraft and to replace combat losses. The main problem is that the SAF was organized and equipped to fight a fierce but short war with Israel and never anticipated getting tangled up in a war of attrition with terrorist forces.

    As a result, Syrian aircraft which were originally to be replaced in this decade are now being worked to the breaking point attacking the Al Qaeda and ISIS forces. This led to decreasing availability of Sukhoi Su-22 aircraft, which were often grounded for weeks at a time to allow for necessary maintenance. In a growing number of cases fighters MiG-23 and MiG-29 took over ground attack functions, something the aircraft were not designed for and their pilots not trained for.

    In late 2014, Iran provided the SAF with ten Su-22 aircraft from the 40 Iraqi Air Force Su-22s flown to Iran during the 1991 war. The Iranians considered them war reparations and kept the aircraft, but were unable to refurbish them until recently. In 2013, Iran decided to restore ten Su-22 to operational condition without any foreign help by using other Su-22s and Su-20s as a source for parts. It is important to note that delivery of these aircraft to Syria is at the expense of the Iranian armed forces. The newly delivered Su-22s began operations in Syria in March 2015.

    Firings of Russian-made Strela SA-7 MANPADS have been uploaded to YouTube. In 2013, Foreign Policy, citing terrorist sources, reported the shipment, with Qatari help, of some 120 SA-7s from Libya (with large stocks acquired by Muammar Gaddafi and proliferated after the 2011 war) via Turkey.

    In February 2013, video of terrorist fighters with Chinese-made FN-6 FeiNu (meaning Flying Crossbow), the most advanced surface-to-air missile offered in the international market, appeared at Deir ez-Zor, and a SAF helicopter was downed by an FN-6 at Menagh Air Base near Aleppo. Qatar supplied the the FN-6 to Al Qaeda forces, possibly through purchase from the Sudanese inventory, weapon was tranferred to ISIS forces. Spray paint was used to obscure serial numbers in a crude effort to impede tracking of the weapon’s supply chain.

    Video surfaced showing terrorists using an Igla-1E on a Syrian government helicopter. Such weapons were believed to have been looted from a Syrian army base in Aleppo in February 2013. In 2014, a Harakat Hazm fighter was filmed aiming an Igla-1E into the air. The group also was supplied with BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles in a covert CIA program launched in 2014. Scores of the group’s fighters also received U.S. military training in Qatar under the same program.

    The SA-7 has a firing range of 4200 meters (13,775 feet) and a maximum altitude of 2300 meters (7500 feet). The FN-6 has a firing range of 6000 meters (19, 680 feet) and a maximum altitude of 3800 meters (12,450 feet).

    SAF pilots are forced to conduct missions from a greater altitude and at higher speed to avoid combat losses due to Al Qaeda and ISIS MANPADS.

    Increased momentum due to the high speed of Su-22 ground attack aircraft bombing operations results in bomb impact craters of considerable radius and depth.

    Al Qaeda (rebranded as Tahrir al-Sham), Eliot Higgins and Bellingcat, Western mainstream media, and the Trump White House all point at a shallow hole in the road as the source of chemical contamination in the 4 April 2017 attack.

    MIT physicist Theodore A. Postol has pointed out that there is “no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft”.

    • backwardsevolution
      April 19, 2017 at 1:13 am

      Abe – nothing but the best for the Al Qaeda and ISIS forces. How the hell do you fight that? With money no object.

  39. April 18, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    There were a couple of items I missed in the article:

    1 – A specific argument wondering why after months and months of lie after fabrication after fantasy anyone, let alone typically “skeptical” media types would believe anything the Trump administration would claim, especially over a matter with such serious consequences. But suddenly were are debating the so-called merits or “facts” of the matter. This should really be a major part of the frame for the article. It hangs in the background without being explored. (I know, yet again? But we need to continue to drive the point.)

    2 – More references to a very lengthy take down by Scott Ritter who, as a former arms inspector and military analyst, put forward one evidential observation after another, using the administrations own video and pictures to deny the claims. Postol covers different ground to reach similar conclusions. The Ritter article is on Truthdig.

  40. Joe Tedesky
    April 18, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    For the simple answer that since America’s youth of fighting age have no skin in the game when it comes to our country’s continuous efforts to fight the war on terror, the American public is guilty of the sin of omission. In place of our citizens having any great concern over our nation’s wars many Americans on what is called the left wing instead target cop violence, gender acceptance equality, and social issues, as their representation of where their passions lie. The right aims at undocumented migrants, lack of quality jobs, and their weakening superiority over the rising status of the minority groups who the right finds to be intimidating to their white man world. Since these issues such as the ones I just mentioned are so close to home, and within reach, these Americans feel little need to get themselves all worked up over long fought foreign wars, which won’t threaten their daily lives in the least bit, so little concern is required.

    I was asked recently of how I felt about Alex Jones. When I replied by stating how I wasn’t all that crazy about wild conspiracy theorist Alex, my questioner was a bit surprised. I took their reaction to be a disappointment due to the fact that my questioner considers me to be the one wearing a tinfoiled hat. After realizing how my questioner assumed how I would naturally be a Alex Jones fan, this got me to thinking.

    As dangerous as it may be that I used my brain, I came to the conclusion of how easy it is to have loud mouthed Jones represent people such as me, and there by discredit myself and others like me to be the gullible fools, and with that we are the irrational ones among our American society. Upon discovering this label identification I suddenly came to understand how Alex Jones was serving a valuable purpose for the Deep State media apparatus in order to place people such as myself into the same category as Jones is in. So by being associated to an Alex Jones we news junkies lose any grounds for believability. I felt this way during this past presidential election when Donald Trump would campaign on such issues as being friendly to Putin, or when he would make promises to end all trade agreements, where we well informed minded folk were then suddenly transformed into our becoming Trump supporters.

    The odd thing about labeling people like myself, is that we are the ones who are digging down deep into the news, and for that we are deemed the conspiracy nuts. In fact there were many a time during the campaign where Trump in interviews seemed far below his being well informed, and I would think of the many here on this comment board who in my estimation have a way better grip on the reality of what is happening in our world, than does our now president who resides in the White House.

    When it comes to the credibility of the New York Times I wouldn’t even trust their crossword puzzles.

    • mike k
      April 19, 2017 at 7:30 am

      People putting the tin hat on us Joe, is just their way of tuning out truth they don’t want to hear. For many of them, someone who knows something they don’t know, or disagrees with their long held beliefs, is automatically full of s#&t!

  41. pft
    April 18, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    I find them useful because I know when all of the MSM agree on something we know the truth lies elsewhere. Only Fake News can result in multiple reporters and columnists from many different publications or broadcasters being unanimous in its analysis of events, many of the facts of which are 2nd and 3rd hand or anonymous sources (or the least reliable of all – government sources)

    You also know its Fake News when they claim the science or history is settled and attack those who dont agree

    Its quite simple really

  42. Abe
    April 18, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    Dan Kaszeta, Eliot Higgins’ main collaborator at the Bellingcat disinformation site, has been hailed as a “chemical weapons expert” and widely cited by mainstream in the aftermath of the 4 April 2017 Khan Shaykhun chemical incident in Al Qaeda-controlled Idlib, Syria.

    Following the chemical attack, Kaszeta was kind enough to provide a description of an “air-dropped Sarin bomb”:
    https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2017/04/13/anatomy-sarin-bomb-explosion-part/

    Kaszeta described “chain of events happens when a typical Sarin bomb is dropped in an air strike” as follows:

    “The bomb hits the ground […] The impact fuze causes the explosive bursting charge to detonate […] The explosives turn rapidly from solid to vapour, at high temperature […] The kinetic energy from this rapid expansion causes the case to burst open”

    Kaszeta’s description fails to account for the fact that the hole in the road in Idlib reveals no evidence of an air-dropped bomb.

    Kaszeta neglects the key factor of kinetic energy possessed by a falling object because of its motion.

    Kinetic energy is an expression of the fact that a moving object can apply force on anything it hits.

    Factors of velocity (speed of a falling object), gravitational potential energy (equal to an object’s weight times the height from which it falls), and direction all influence the kinetic energy of a falling object when it hits the ground.

    When a falling object hits the ground, the kinetic energy deforms both the object and the surface it hits in a pattern determined by the falling object’s speed, weight, distance of descent, and direction of impact.

    Kaszeta’s “bomb” description fails to account for all these additional factors.

    In short, Kaszeta’s “air-dropped Sarin bomb” account is bogus.

    The alleged “Sarin bomb” hole in the road in Idlib has been photographed numerous times from multiple angles.

    The size, depth and shape of the hole are clear evidence that it was not produced by a falling object such as an air-dropped bomb.

    Nevertheless, Bellingcat’s devoted First Draft Coaltion “partners” in the mainstream media have cited Kaszeta as a go-to “expert” on the Khan Shaykhun attack.

  43. David F., N.A.
    April 18, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    I smell another Netflix documentary brewing. And cacaCorporate Hollywood can sell it again with another Oscar. CIA, CIA, CIA.

  44. Oz
    April 18, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    This should not bar Susan Rice from accepting four Pinocchios for assorted other statements she has made.

  45. Abe
    April 19, 2017 at 12:24 am

    “The latest American missile attack appears to rest upon two major assumptions. The first assumption, and one shared unquestionably by both media and politicians in this country, is that the gassing of civilians in Khan Sheikhoun on 3 April was in fact carried out by the Syrian government.

    “No evidence to support this assumption has been provided. The assertions of Syrian government culpability do not equate to evidence, regardless of the degree of certainty or assurance with which they are delivered. One would have thought that the memory of Tony Blair’s ‘dodgy dossier’ or Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council, both preceding the invasion of Iraq, would provide a note of caution when politicians make bold statements about their high degree of confidence in the actions of any given enemy du jour.

    “There are a number of reasons in the present case to be skeptical about the unqualified assertions of politicians in the possession and use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government forces. One is the agreement brokered by Russia for Syria to give up all its chemical weapons following the Ghouta tragedy in 2013. We now know that the Ghouta tragedy was the responsibility of terrorist groups and not the Syrian government. Even the New York Times has recently conceded as much, although the Australian media still persist in blaming the Syrian government.

    “There is also the report in June 2014 by the UN body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile had now been eliminated. There is no mention of OPCW in any Australian mainstream media reporting.

    “Even if there were legitimate concerns that the Syrian government still did have chemical weapons in its armoury, at the very least it would have been prudent to wait for the results of a proper investigation before embarking on a missile attack. The Russian government called for such an investigation immediately following the Khan Sheikhoun tragedy. The refusal of the western governments to even countenance such an investigation is the antithesis of how international diplomacy should be conducted.

    “A sub-assumption is that the Syrian government carried out the Khan Sheikhoun attacks because that is the sort of thing it does. This fits the general narrative of the Assad government being an unacceptable party to negotiations, but it is at the very least a double standard in operation because that moral approbation is not applied to many of the world’s governments. If being the purveyor of violence was the criterion for exclusion from the negotiating table then there are many candidates ahead of Syria for exclusion, including many […] erstwhile allies in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    “The second major assumption underlying the missile attack was that the Americans were somehow justified in international law in doing so. Although the views of the Russian government on this issue have been quoted in the […] media, it is apparent from the lack of analysis that the Russian view has been simply disregarded.

    “It is however a very powerful argument and one that the […] media are anxious to avoid. When it is alluded to, as in the quotation above from the ‘senior government source’ such self-serving claims are never critically examined.

    “The United States is a member of the United Nations and as such […] expected to comply with the conditions that bind all member states. Article 2(4) of the UN charter stipulates ‘All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the UN.’

    “A reprisal attack, such as the Americans have carried out, clearly breaches Article 2(4) […]

    “Article 51 of the UN Charter limits the use of armed force to two specific exceptions to the general prohibition on the use of armed force to resolve international disputes.

    “The first exception is if the force is used pursuant to an authorizing resolution of the UN Security Council. Manifestly this does not exist in the present case, and neither did the US either seek such a resolution or claim (as Australia and the UK did in the 2003 invasion of Iraq) that some previous resolution somehow carried over to the present circumstances.

    “The second exception is that a country may act in self-defence if it is itself attacked by another state. There are further qualifications to that exception that are not relevant here. Again, this exception is manifestly not the case, and the Americans make no claim that they were acting in self-defence.

    “All of the public statements, by Trump, by Secretary of state Tillerson and by others in the US administration all refer to the attack being a ‘punishment’ for the deaths caused by the use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun a few days previously […]

    “Not for the first time, unilateral and illegal actions by the Americans pose a grave threat to the safety of the planet and its inhabitants.”

    American Missile Strikes in Syria Raise Fresh Questions
    By James ONeill
    http://journal-neo.org/2017/04/18/american-missile-strikes-in-syria-raise-fresh-questions-2/

  46. Abe
    April 19, 2017 at 2:05 am

    “The crux of any case in favor of the cruise missile attack on Syria hinges on the issue of chemical weapons. Syria joined the CWC in September 2013, following a chemical weapons incident in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta that allegedly killed 1,400 civilians (although this number is in dispute). As was the case in Khan Shaykhun, rebel forces, backed by the U.S. and Europe, attributed the attack to the Syrian government. The Syrian government blamed the rebels. Then-President Barack Obama threatened military action in response, but aborted the attack when evidence pinning the attack on the Syrian government proved to be less than conclusive. At the behest of Russia, the U.S. agreed to forestall a military attack in exchange for Syria’s accession to the CWC and its agreement to dispose of all its chemical weapons stocks and related facilities and equipment.

    “Importantly, the disarmament of Syria’s chemical weapons under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was codified in a Security Council resolution, 2118 (2013), that ‘[d]ecides, in the event of non-compliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.’ This language was insisted on by the Russians, who wanted the Security Council to have to meet and pass a new resolution authorizing Chapter VII measures, such as military action, to prevent just the sort of unsanctioned action the U.S. undertook against Shayrat air base on April 6.

    “To overcome any objection to the U.S. attack that might be raised on the grounds of international law, the U.S. would need to prove that Syria was in violation of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013), that this violation represented an ongoing threat to peace, and that, given Russia’s record of support for the Syrian regime, there was no chance of the Security Council enacting the kind of Chapter VII enforcement required by resolution 2118. The critical aspect of such a case is, therefore, the intelligence used by the U.S. to underpin its contention that Syria used chemicals weapons against Khan Shaykhun on the morning of April 4 […]

    “The absolute dearth of viable intelligence to sustain the Trump administration’s case for unilateral military action against Syria completely undermines the moralistic posturing of Ambassador Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the president himself about the need for action. There is no evidence that the Syria government engaged in any illegal activity in Khan Shaykhun, or anywhere else for that matter, especially with regard to its obligations under the CWC regarding the prohibition of chemical weapons. Void of this, the thin rationale the U.S. could have used to justify a military strike against Syria evaporates, leaving only one conclusion: The American military strike against Shayrat air base represents a violation of international law […]

    “In the aftermath of the cruise missile attack, and in response to Russia’s aggressive promulgation of a counternarrative placing the blame on Tahrir al-Sham, the White House on Tuesday published a declassified, four-page memorandum that sought to debunk the Russian claims and paint Russia as culpable in the chemical attack. The description of the intelligence underpinning the American assessment did not advance in any significant way what had already been released by the Trump administration. There was no new intelligence offered to prove that the U.S. narrative was accurate.

    “The White House claims the Syrian SU-22 was employed in response to an offensive launched by Tahrir al-Sham. The Syrian government account that its aircraft were targeting a weapons storage facility does not contradict this point. Of interest is the emphasis that the White House placed on an image, provided by anti-regime activists, of a crater in the middle of a road. The administration parroted the activist assessment that whatever caused this crater did not do any damage to surrounding buildings, and as such could not have caused the leaking of any chemical munitions stored there (although the militants maintain no such weapons exist). The White House memorandum also states that the crater was consistent with the impact of a chemical munition. In fact, the crater is consistent with the impact of a high explosive warhead from a mortar or air-to-surface rocket (as an artillery intelligence officer, I specialized in crater analysis of battlefield munitions).

    “However, geospacial analysis of the crater in question, with the impact points recorded on the video by activists, clearly shows that the crater cited by the White House was not affiliated with the strike carried out by the Syrian Air Force on the morning of April 4. Either the White House (and the U.S. intelligence community) has published a hasty and incorrect analysis, or the passage in question was deliberately released in an effort to mislead the American public. Again, one must wonder who is driving the White House narrative, given that so much of the assessment contained in the four-page memorandum was being driven by information released by Tahrir al-Sham.”

    Dereliction of Duty, Redux
    By Scott Ritter
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/dereliction_of_duty_redux_20170412

  47. April 19, 2017 at 2:13 am

    The main problem for the corporate media is that they have become too ’embedded’ to step back from the brink now. To admit they are wrong about the latest chemical attack would throw into doubt everything they have written on Syria over the last few years It would throw into doubt their stories about Russia, Ukraine, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and all the many other countries in which the West is interfering.

    Their are too many well-appointed first and second homes at stake, too many luxury holidays, too many high performance cars, too many children at the best private schools and universities, too many mortgages, too many loans, too many credit cart debts and too many expensive restaurant meals. All depend on keeping the lie machine churning till it finally over-heats and breaks down.

    • mike k
      April 19, 2017 at 7:14 am

      Right. Lying is like a Ponzi scheme. You have to keep piling lies upon the lies already told to keep the game going, or it all collapses and you are found out.

  48. April 19, 2017 at 2:57 am

    An obvious point even most of the alternative media seem to be missing was posted in the comments section of the Guardian yesterday.

    Under the headline “Bashar al-Assad trained as a doctor. How did he become a mass murderer?” Dr Ranjana Srivastava answers her own question. Describing how she didn’t have the heart to explain in great detail to her daughter how a doctor like Bashar Assad became a mass murderer, she does take time to explain it to us. By using examples like Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who conducted cruel experiments on prisoners in Auschwitz, and Dr Harold Shipman who injected more than 200 of his elderly patients with lethal drugs, she makes it easy for us to understand that any old doctor is capable of murdering patients by the truckload. Her condescending musings based on nothing but idle speculation do nothing but bring her reputation and journalism into disrepute. But none of it answers one extremely pertinent question.

    In a short comment beneath the article niknik43 raises the question: “…Assad has used chemical weapons against his own population, women and children, but why he didn’t use those same chemical weapons against ISIS and his other enemies…”

    Why indeed? Perhaps the corporate media might like to answer that one.

    Article at the link: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/18/bashar-al-assad-trained-as-a-doctor-how-did-he-become-a-mass-murderer

  49. April 19, 2017 at 3:42 am

    The historical pattern I see is that in the modern, post WWII era, the CIA and Pentagon normally do not tell the truth about events that are potentially useful as “justifications” for military interaction. They almost always are telling a false/misleading story about those events. I can’t actually think of any counterexamples to that, off the top of my head. Meanwhile, the mainstream media believe that an essential meaning of “mainstream media” is a willingness to ignore that reality and pretend it is not true. So we have a stand off. In that sense, NYT policy is not something new. It is a shade of more of the same…yet Robert Parry, a dedicated observer of these things, feels it is notably different because the doubt and alternative views are given no space, even when they are quickly made available and seem reasonable, rather than slowly emerging – ala JFK, 9/11, Vietnam, Lockerbie, Iran/Contra, Ukraine, Iraq, Kosovo,….etc. Perhaps the glass half full here is that the modern Internet & social media are making the rest of the media, academic, and indie world quicker to respond nowadays?

  50. Mel
    April 19, 2017 at 5:49 am

    One of the comforting things is the growing scepticism of the ordinary people toward the printed MSM. How influential is the NYT? It and CNN etc. couldn’t stop Trump being elected so how many people don’t scoff at this silly story?

  51. Liam
    April 19, 2017 at 8:51 am

    It was quite obviously a false flag as the White Helmets were the ones that carried it out and reported on it. Discerning Syrian war watchers are well aware that the White Helmets are terrorists posing in disguise as humanitarian rescuers. This fact is what the corrupt and complicit NT Times seeks to cover up.

    Massive White Helmets Photo Cache Proves Hollywood Gave Oscar to Terrorist Group

    https://clarityofsignal.com/2017/02/27/massive-white-helmets-photo-cache-proves-hollywood-gave-oscar-to-terrorist-group/

    False Flagger: Al-Nusra Front Terrorist ‘Reporter’ Hadi Abdallah First Responder to Chemical Massacre in Idlib, Syria on April 4th, 2017

    https://clarityofsignal.com/2017/04/10/false-flagger-al-nusra-front-terrorist-reporter-hadi-abdallah-first-responder-to-chemical-massacre-in-idlib-syria-on-april-4th-2017/

    Full video documentary – Tapestry of Terror – White Helmets Exposed As FSA Terrorists Linked With ISIS

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5ivyaEm7Oo

    Please share all links widely to help get the truth out about the White Helmets ruse being perpetrated by the corrupt western powers.

  52. Liam
    April 19, 2017 at 8:54 am

    For accurate info on the Syrian war please be sure to follow Tyranny Unmasked on You Tube…

    US Rebels slaughter 100’s of Women and Children in Syria

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmnFtFH4yGU

  53. Liam
    April 19, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Full video of US ‘moderate rebels’ drive by bombing attack on buses filled with women and children at Kefraya.

    Highly graphic: Please help make this video go viral.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgHhetMYNUk

  54. jimbo
    April 19, 2017 at 9:31 am

    21st Century Wire’s Patrick Henningsen has a long and harrowing interview with this British guy Patrice who fought for the Syrian government forces and tells an entirely different story than the MSM. He describes the terrorists as the most horrid people you can imagine i.e., they set up whore houses and religiously excuse their behavior by marrying and then divorcing the women. They hold hostages with the threat of beheading. After they get paid they behead the victim anyway. And beheading is rampant. With iTunes you can hear the interview on the Sunday Wire podcast at then end part of episode #181. Henningsen is an audio truth teller like Robert Parry is to text.

    • Marko
      April 19, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      jimbo ,

      I second that recommendation enthusiastically. I listened to both the original and the rebroadcast and I enjoyed it just as much the second time. Patrice has a voice that you quickly recognize as being authentic , which meant that hearing him describe the Syrian people and what they’ve been through was going to be painful for me , because I know it’s largely my country’s fault.

  55. April 19, 2017 at 11:23 am

    You should know than in the whole Western World medias (all) belong to oligaks billionares being not very kind for the working classes. They just use peoples for their own profit. Those medias play games with politicians who need their support to stay in office. “Satan” le Fric dictate its rules in America and in the european puppets of that capitalistic system. Revolution is the only way to get out of it.. Unfortunately courage is lacking and those creeps know it…

  56. Kev
    April 19, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    NYTs is complicit in facilitating mass suffering for profit. The publication is trash, as are its board membership.

  57. Dunno
    April 19, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    The two messieurs, Rutenberg and Kessler, remind me of the leading characters from the play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” however, our two impostor-journalists are devious and deceitful presstitutes whose sole career purpose is to mislead the American people by regurgitating and vomiting US-minted propaganda. While Glenn Kessler is listed as a member of the CFR Jim Rutenberg is not. Perhaps Mr. Rutenberg only works for the CIA or the USDOS; I don’t know if that is true or not, but it certainly could be. Jim does seem to have a certain mandrake-like quality that reveals itself through the consistency of his scripted journalistic quackery. I wonder if Jimbo walks like a duck, too? De facto, But Jim Rutenberg might as well be taking that “Bad Company’s” money since he has performed so many stellar propaganda services for the American Empire over the years as both a reporter and now a columnist for La Dame Grise (whose motto should be: “all the propaganda that we can fit in print”).

    Good grief, does anybody really expect to read anything but whoppers in the pages of the WAPO? Their history as a propaganda machine fro the CIA is both legendary and documented. If you want to read a balanced piece on the bogus Sarin gas attack in Idlib, Syria, then read; “The Hasty Trump Syria Attack – It Doesn’t Add Up,” by F. William Engdahl
    @ Near Eastern Outlook. com.

    Deceivers such as Rutenberg and Kessler are mere sycophantic recyclers who turn mounds of trash and garbage into fabricated fairy tales for Uncle Sam’s amazing spin machine. These two MSM circus acts behave just like, good little MSM laptop-lapdogs, who will do anything for a treat, i.e., just like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, my two pet mewling & puking parakeets. So, bow-wow-us, Jim, and bow-wow-us, Glenn, you clever little deceitful apparatchiks. Now, roll over boys! That’s it fellas – good little lapdogs. Who’s your daddy? “Uncle Sammy!” [ad nauseam]…

  58. April 19, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Regarding the assertion being pushed by the MSM elements about how only the “barbarism and irrationality” of Arab thinking could explain their dropping of a chemical bomb when simple reason would militate against such an action, one’s mind drifts back to the cold-bloodedness of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 to find an example of what “real barbarism” consists of and the psychological mechanism of “projection” that would have allowed such a rumor to propagate.

    One also wonders why the MSM have not yet disavowed their obviously biased conclusion about this story and come around to the most obvious explanation of the event, whereby, in typical human screw-up fashion, it was simply the result of a disastrous error, i.e. yes, the intentional dropping of a bomb, but, mistakenly, on a storehouse of chemicals rather than traditional bombs, which had logically been the intention. Not every disaster is the result of a brilliant but fiendishly designed plan. Sometimes they are just mistakes. Just letting your faulty interpretation fester out there is rather messy. Fess’ up.

    Well, the DNC Russian hacking story just died in the same way, so this is not surprising. If these stories had really been serious, wouldn’t their authors have been willing to follow through with an honest investigation? Talk about accountability!

    Meanwhile. over the weekend we were treated to a CSIS presentation where a fawning crowd listened to pompous Mike Pompeo, CIA Director from Kansas, coincidentally (?), the land of the Wizard of Oz, explain how he wasn’t going to get into the details and reveal his sources, but that they had their “ideas” about who was the perpetrator here. He had, before becoming a Congressman, failed at several “small” businesses, so his logical next step had been to go into politics.

  59. Jim
    April 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I tweeted this article to https://twitter.com/jimrutenberg and told him it was a good read…

  60. Gary
    April 20, 2017 at 6:08 am

    At least in the old “print version” the NYT’s remains useful as an effective liner for one’s hamster cage. Sadly, not so with online options.

  61. Ten Count
    April 20, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Notice how the conglomerate media machine is reduced to personal attacks and negative profiling of skeptics because they can’t compete with the science & reasoning of Postol, who totally destroyed the US “intellignece” narrative which the Times tried so hard to sell.

    Not to mention the level of dishonesty & deceit necessary to completely ignore the long track record of sensational fake shock stories or staged inside jobs from as far back as The Maine in 1898 to the Sarajevo market place bomb in the 90’s. In every case, these selling point events have an uncanny way of being delivered just in time for another push to move public opinion for war, and the allegations of one of the stakeholders is miraculously verified in just a couple of hours, ready to serve on the morning news Eastern Standard Time.

    The good news is that fewer people fall fr it every time. The bad news is that the response from the powers-that-be is to sell even harder, act faster and go even farther in censoring or misrepresenting skeptical opinion.

  62. April 20, 2017 at 8:44 am

    A diatribe similar to that in the New York Times, attacking those whose questioned the accuracy of the establishment description of the event as apologists for the Syrian government, appeared at about the same time in the pages of the Economist.

  63. julian lobato
    April 20, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Americans have become so adept at ignorance that they reflexively attack any person exposing any semblance of the truth.

    George Orwell is rolling in his grave.

  64. Miss V
    April 20, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    America the Pitiful.

  65. Douglas Dewar
    April 20, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Theodore Postol carries even more gravitas when one remembers that he was, for many years, the top scientific advisor to the top man in the USA Navy.

  66. Louis Proyect
    April 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    So interesting to see how a mainstream reporter like Robert Parry has turned into Moon of Alabama, Global Research, Veterans Today and Information Clearing House. Could it be related to some form of dementia? I hope not.

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