Anatomy of a Chemical Attack

In the space of a little more than 24 hours Defense Secretary Jim Mattis learned all over again how to say, “Yes, sir,” explains Barry Kissin

By Barry Kissin Special to Consortium News

Analyzing certain aspects of the brief timeline between the date of the alleged chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Duma on April 7 and the date of the U.S. air strikes on April 13 in supposed retaliation, reveals a very curious sequence of events.

On April 8, a day after chlorine gas was allegedly used, President Donald Trump (with no time for investigation) blamed Syrian government forces for what he called a “mindless CHEMICAL attack” and warned there would be a “big price to pay.” He did not elaborate. In a series of tweets, Trump held Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chief sponsors, responsible.

On April 11 (at 3:57 AM), President Trump tweeted: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

The next morning, on April 12, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified before the House Armed Services Committee. “I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence,” Mattis told lawmakers. “As each day goes by — as you know, it is a non-persistent gas — so it becomes more and more difficult to confirm it.” Mattis said he wanted inspectors in Syria “probably within the week.”

Mattis: “Yes, yesterday.”

In an article titled “Mattis: US Wants Proof Before Striking Syria for Chemical Attack,” reported: “Currently, the U.S. and its allies ‘don’t have evidence’ that the Syrian regime carried out the attack last Saturday in the Damascus suburb of Duma that reportedly killed at least 40, Mattis said.”

In response to Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas (D-Mass.) Mattis testified: “We don’t have troops on the ground there so I cannot tell you we have evidence even though we certainly had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used.”

Right after his testimony on Capitol Hill, Mattis attended a “closed-door White House meeting.” According to The New York Times, at this meeting, “Mattis pushed for more evidence of President Bashar al-Assad’s role in the suspected chemical attack …” Evidently, Mattis was overruled. Trump was already committed.

The Pentagon conducted a briefing immediately after the US strikes the next day, on April 13. One reporter asked: “What’s your evidence it was delivered by the Syrian regime? Are you quite clear it was?” Mattis dutifully responded: “I am confident the Syrian regime conducted a chemical attack on innocent people in this last week, yes. Absolutely confident of it.”

Another reporter queried: “So up until yesterday, and I’m going to quote you here, you said, ‘I cannot tell you that we have evidence.’ So when did you become confident that a chemical attack happened?

Mattis: “Yes, yesterday.”

Reporter: “Since yesterday, after you said that?”

Mattis: “Yes.”

And those inspectors Mattis had only the day before made clear to Congress would be coming “probably within the week?”  They were just hours away from starting their work in Duma when the first U.S. cruise missile hit its target.  

Barry Kissin is an attorney, musician and political commentator.

41 comments for “Anatomy of a Chemical Attack

  1. Bill Goldman
    April 20, 2018 at 13:40

    Both Trump and Mattis are liars. Neither knew if chemicals were used or if Assad was involved. Trump relied on White Helmet fraudulent accounts. Vanessa Beesley has established them and their sponsors as disreputable. Trump intended to embarrass Putin who seems reluctant to retaliate against the US with force. Russian hesitancy is probably connected to their experience from the Soviet support of the Communist government in Afghanistan at the time.

  2. Abe
    April 18, 2018 at 01:18

    Lo and behold, “resurgent” proxy Team B suddenly needs “going after”

  3. Drew Hunkins
    April 17, 2018 at 12:59

    Notice how Lavrov, Putin and Maria almost always use the phrase “…our Western partners…” This is a humane and totally rational gesture on their behalf. Make no mistake, Lavrov, Putin and Maria know full well that the Washington-Zio-Saudi-militarists despise them and want nothing less than to return Russia back to its vassal status ruled by Western-Wall Street quislings.

    Lavrov, Putin and Maria use the assuaging rhetoric b/c they well know things could easily spiral out of control when dealing with bloodthirsty warmongering sociopaths like Bolton, Netanyahu, Clown Prince MBS, Lindsay Graham, McCain, Pompeo, Pence, etc. They’re being as diplomatic as possible in order to stave off the possibility of nuclear war.

    That they generally use soothing semantics is a small attempt on their behalf to let the coffee cool and deescalate tensions.

  4. Rob
    April 17, 2018 at 12:19

    As independent reporters gain access to Douma, the evidence is mounting that there was no chemical weapons attack and that the supposed CW event was staged by the jihadist rebels and their partners, the White Helmets. As Robert Fisk reports, White Helmets were seen departing from Douma in the same vehicles as the jihadists. Do we need more proof that Western governments and their media lapdogs have been playing the public for suckers, which, by and large, they are? I have been engaged in few online debates with people who are absolutely convinced that the official narrative is the gospel truth and that I am either an idiot or a traitor for harboring doubts and asking questions. If it weren’t for independent media, such as Consortium News, we would all be in the dark.

  5. joeblogs
    April 17, 2018 at 09:30

    Back in the day, when Saddam Hussein was the darling of the West, and buying their weapons by the shipload, I remember seeing a TV news broadcast in 1988 (30 years ago last month), showing the dreadful gassing massacre of Kurdish civilians in Iraq’s Halabja.

    This shocking vision remains with me to this day, many decades later. The TV screen shows a woman, holding her tiny little baby in her arms, both lying dead on the ground just meters from her own front door, to which she had clearly sought sanctuary.

    The announcer (Channel Four news) said the following: “Well, that’s Saddam being Saddam, I suppose. Anyway, on now to the sporting results”. That was the reaction from the West, after thousands of civilians were killed in the most horrible way imaginable – even the birds in the trees were falling to the ground; livestock and pets killed too.

    Nothing was ever the same to me after. The evil is real, and it is with us.

    • April 17, 2018 at 13:10

      I believe 100’s of thousands died in the USA backed Saddam attack on Iran in which the USA aided and abetted Saddam’s deployment of chemical weapons with USA intelligence reports.

      • joeblogs
        April 17, 2018 at 14:14

        You’re absolutely right; I had forgotten about that – the Iran Iraq war of 1980-88. I doubt the Iranians have forgotten, however.

  6. exiled off mainstreet
    April 17, 2018 at 03:36

    Mattis might have to say “I vass chust folloving orders” except that the yankee imperium fully controls the war crimes tribunal in den Haag.

  7. backwardsevolution
    April 17, 2018 at 03:00

    Barry Kissin – I agree that what has been done to Syria is criminal, that Trump’s tweet was juvenile and mindless, and that, absent any evidence, the retaliatory strikes were insane. But you lost me here:

    “According to The New York Times, at this meeting, “Mattis pushed for more evidence of President Bashar al-Assad’s role in the suspected chemical attack …” Evidently, Mattis was overruled. Trump was already committed.”

    After all that has gone on, their lies, omissions, spin, and 24/7 vilification of Trump, we’re now supposed to take the word of The New York Times? I’d believe in the Easter Bunny before I ever believed anything emanating from that rag.

    Trump doesn’t want war, he doesn’t even want NATO. Until this Russiagate business began, Trump wanted to bring all of the troops home.

    The destruction of Syria is a travesty, but so is the destruction of the United States by a small band of thugs.

    • Sam F
      April 17, 2018 at 07:39

      Very true, although I recently defended the very large Easter Bunny (whom I know very well) to a very small child who announced to me as I was reading that he was afraid of it and the prospective egg hunt. The bunny behaved better than the busy boys during the hunt, from the standpoint of a tiny person, but observing my concern the boys made him the winner by covertly planting piles of eggs and prizes in his basket, quite a lesson later explained by his parents. I have far more confidence in the Easter Bunny, a teenage girl, than any Rep or Dem who might be selected by the US oligarchy.

    • Skip Scott
      April 17, 2018 at 08:18

      It’s hard to know what Trump wants. If you go by his campaign rhetoric, he doesn’t want war or NATO. Yet he contradicts himself almost daily. I think he is narcissistic enough that he didn’t want to look like Obama with his “red line” fiasco. Once he said the missiles are coming, he better by god get to shoot his missiles! He has the emotional maturity of a 15 year old. I wish it were otherwise, but that’s how I see it.

  8. Realist
    April 17, 2018 at 02:20

    The thing of it is, Assad is human like everyone else and will at some point die of old age, disease, accident or homicide. Or maybe he will reflect on the life expectancy of Middle Eastern leaders and take early retirement. At that time he will be replaced. Why the rush to eliminate him NOW? What’s the cost/benefit ratio, even if you assume that Assad is an evil dictator, when you consider than nearly half a million Syrians have already been killed and several million made homeless or refugees? (And this is to take no account of the billions of dollars poured down that rathole by American taxpayers.) Moreover, what are the unforeseen consequences of driving him from office? Look what happened in Iraq and Libya when strongman rulers Saddam and Gadaffi were removed by killing them. They became totally destabilised shooting galleries for many long years and still counting. How is that better than the quality of life Syria had before the American-fomented “Arab Spring?” Syria would seem to set up even worse for the future than Iraq and Libya, considering all the headchoppers set loose across the country by American money and influence. Washington will be cursed for many generations by the peoples of the Middle East for this brazen interference (and by any survivors across the globe if they precipitate a nuclear world war).

    • Skip Scott
      April 17, 2018 at 08:10

      Oded Yinon plan in action. The consequences are not unforeseen, they are desired. As for the cost/benefit ratio, the taxpayers pay the cost and the MIC gets the benefits. For the evil ones, it’s perfect.

  9. Martin - Swedish citizen
    April 17, 2018 at 02:08

    In the end, the attack was quite limited, compared to worse fears. Did, perhaps, Mr Mattis influence the decision in that, very responsible and crucial, direction?

    • April 17, 2018 at 08:47

      @ Martin: “In the end, the attack was quite limited, compared to worse fears.”

      Not nearly as limited as the Pentagon claimed, according to all other reports. See e.g., hxxp://

      But not as wide as originally planned, according to Elijah Magnier: hxxps://

    • Mike P
      April 17, 2018 at 20:46

      This is what I believe as well. Mattis first tried to deflate the whole thing by cautioning about lack of evidence, and when that failed, he went along with the lie so that he might at least control the damage. He knows that he will not be thanked.

      It is noteworthy that just two months ago Mattis commented on last year’s staged attack, saying that they still did not have evidence. I believe now that he made these statements after the plan was hatched for this recent staged attack – he wanted to prepare the public so that it might react more sceptically, thus undermining the campaign for retaliation.

      Yes, it’s all speculation, I have no evidence – but I’m “very confident” of it ;)

  10. Taras 77
    April 16, 2018 at 23:19

    FWIW, I thought this brief msg from Saker was appropriate, particularly as it applies to the lies, lies, lies. Bottom line, this is sadly what govts do: (comments are noteworthy)

  11. Quang
    April 16, 2018 at 22:13

    Since about 70% of the amurrican sheeple hold the military in the highest regard of any govt branch, anything it does is ok with them. Take as much money and as much time as you need, go anywhere, disregard any laws and keep as much as possible secret. Support the troops, keep ’em flying, anchors away, with God on our side!

    • Zachary Smith
      April 16, 2018 at 22:21

      Sir, you forgot to add that us USAians are the most exceptional people on the planet Earth, this despite our also being the most humble.

    • mike k
      April 17, 2018 at 08:50

      Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

  12. Zachary Smith
    April 16, 2018 at 21:53

    There is a new view of those attacks coming from the Syrian side. Robert Fisk is the reporter, and the link is to the Jonathon Cook site in Israel.

    I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night — but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet’, shouted ‘Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.

    • Zachary Smith
      April 16, 2018 at 21:55
    • mike k
      April 16, 2018 at 21:59

      Interesting. And most probably how it really went down.

    • April 17, 2018 at 08:44

      One America News TV report here says essentially the same, based on on-site interviews in Douma.

    • ORWELL
      April 17, 2018 at 20:18

      Will Hollywood now give the “White Helmets” another Academy Award for
      Best Fake Propaganda Videos ?!?!? Hollywood and the “White Helmets”
      deserve each other……as Bedfellows…..IN HELL.

  13. Lois Gagnon
    April 16, 2018 at 21:46

    As if the US cares about people being gassed after it poisoned the people of Fallujah with depleted uranium and Israel used white phosphorus on the people of Gaza. We know for a fact that these crimes took place and yet there was no outcry from US allies or the UN. No one was ever punished.

    It’s like a bleeping hall of mirrors. Real crimes go unmentioned and unpunished and false flag crimes are treated as confirmed and punished without evidence. We are living Orwell’s nightmare.

    • mike k
      April 16, 2018 at 21:57

      We have gone beyond Orwell’s nightmares. Progress. We do scientific torture now.

    • WC
      April 17, 2018 at 01:18

      Lois. Some interesting info that might benefit your participation in Cindy Sheehan’s Women’s March
      Edward Snowden Exposes The Elites in New Interview

    • uncle tungsten
      April 17, 2018 at 06:18

      Every day the USA poisons its American people with lead pollution in their drinking water. When its not lead it might be C8 Teflon pollution. The USA has listed some 2000 cities and towns with lead pollution in waterways. The impact of lead on infants is degenerative brain function:- idiocy. It is not reversible for the individual so affected, their quality of life is reduced significantly. The USA permits the poisoning of its people.

      The USA sold the nuclear reactor to the Japanese to use at Fukushima and allowed the standby emergency power generator to be installed on the ground in a tsunami zone when it should have been installed (at more expense) on the top floor. The pacific ocean is now poisoned with strontium and cesium and the USA does not care at all.

    • April 17, 2018 at 11:56

      Correct and the USA used White Phosphorous in Fullujah.

    • peter
      April 17, 2018 at 16:32

      Who talks about ” agent orange” in Vietnam? except some people that still suffer because of this chemical warfare. Has the US ever been punished for this kind of war? NO

  14. Steve ABBOTT
    April 16, 2018 at 21:20

    Nobody in the MSM enquires why the standards of evidence should be lower for the touching off of war, than it should for individual criminal prosecution. Would Matis’ consistency and level of confidence protect him in a court of law for, say, firing on his neighbours?

    • mike k
      April 16, 2018 at 21:55

      When an army murders, it’s OK. That’s what they are trained for – professional murderers. Thugs for hire. Dress them up in a nice uniform and they can get away with murder.

  15. Rick Patel
    April 16, 2018 at 20:55

    Sad Dog will expire unwept, un-honored & unsung.

    • mike k
      April 16, 2018 at 21:53

      This old soldier will just fade away………….

    • Anon
      April 17, 2018 at 07:21

      Another “confidence” man who will be discarded by oligarchy when disgraced.
      Order another uniform for the PR department.

  16. mike k
    April 16, 2018 at 20:37

    And Mattis looks so “military” in his photo. Just like a stiff necked mad dog is supposed to look. Take off the fancy uniform, and you have – just another jerk.

    • LarcoMarco
      April 17, 2018 at 00:01

      A real D***Head (military epithet).

    • Wendi
      April 17, 2018 at 15:23

      I wish Mattis would turn into Gen. Smedley. Next week.

      But I doubt he could ride such a high horse.

      • Abby
        April 17, 2018 at 21:51

        Excellent comment. This is what I don’t understand. Why haven’t more people heard of Smedley’s book about his military experience? I know that West Point would never add it to its reading list, but what he wrote would discourage everyone from joining the rolling slaughtering US military if they had.

        I was looking at some photos of soldiers in Syria and wondering if they knew that are just being used as canon fodder wherever they go. How can people just not know what they are signing up to do?

        Here’s an excellent article on how Putin called the shots of our latest attack on Syria. Trump wanted to bomb Russian assets, but mad dawg talked him out of it. Imagine if Hillary was president instead. Whoboy! We dodged a bullet there.

  17. mike k
    April 16, 2018 at 20:32

    Hasty missile attack on Syria – perfect example of a Trumped up excuse to commit a crime. (pun intended)

Comments are closed.