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Quitting Over Syria

Posted by nancy_in_venice_ca SS24 z10 CA (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 15, 13 at 2:53

The media ran with the narrative that the Assad government used chemical weapons against Syrian rebels. There were critics of this narrative, but none seem to gain much attention. Philip Giraldi writes in the American Conservative of the dissent within the intelligence community on assigning guilt to Assad's forces.

What troubled me was seeing the media blindly accept and repeat the narrative of the Syrian's govenment's use of chemical weapons when there was information to cast doubt on the assertions. From the initial reports that the government "might" have used chemicals, John Kerry proceeds to claim the use as fact. No challenges (that I am aware of) were put to either the Secretary of State of Vice President Biden when they claimed Syria did use chemical weapons. Now we learn that it was far from certain.

While the U.S. and its foreign policy allies charged Syria, leaks coming from the United Nations investigation were blaming the rebels, with their Saudi backers, for the chemical attacks.

Quitting Over Syria

The release of the White House "Government Assessment" on August 30, providing the purported evidence to support a bombing attack on Syria, defused a conflict with the intelligence community that had threatened to become public through the mass resignation of a significant number of analysts. The intelligence community's consensus view on the status of the Syrian chemical-weapons program was derived from a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) completed late last year and hurriedly updated this past summer to reflect the suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels and civilians.

The report maintained that there were some indications that the regime was using chemicals, while conceding that there was no conclusive proof. There was considerable dissent from even that equivocation, including by many analysts who felt that the evidence for a Syrian government role was subject to interpretation and possibly even fabricated. Some believed the complete absence of U.S. satellite intelligence on the extensive preparations that the government would have needed to make in order to mix its binary chemical system and deliver it on target was particularly disturbing. These concerns were reinforced by subsequent UN reports suggesting that the rebels might have access to their own chemical weapons. The White House, meanwhile, considered the somewhat ambiguous conclusion of the NIE to be unsatisfactory, resulting in considerable pushback against the senior analysts who had authored the report.

[ . . . ] Other intelligence cited in passing by the White House on the trajectories and telemetry of rockets that may have been used in the attack was also somewhat conjectural and involved weapons that were not, in fact, in the Syrian arsenal, suggesting that they were actually fired by the rebels. Also, traces of Sarin were not found in most of the areas being investigated, nor on one of the two rockets identified. Whether the victims of the attack suffered symptoms of Sarin was also disputed, and no autopsies were performed to confirm the presence of the chemical.

With all evidence considered, the intelligence community found itself with numerous skeptics in the ranks, leading to sharp exchanges with the Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. A number of analysts threatened to resign as a group if their strong dissent was not noted in any report released to the public, forcing both Brennan and Clapper to back down. This led to the White House issuing its own assessment, completely divorcing the process from any direct connection to the intelligence community. The spectacle of CIA Director George Tenet sitting behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the United Nations, providing him with credibility as Powell told a series of half-truths, would not be repeated.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Quitting Over Syria

I treated the whole subject as SOB when "sob" sistas and bros posted anguish over such alleged dastardly doings.

RE: Quitting Over Syria

Syria? Is it still in the news?

RE: Quitting Over Syria

The spectacle of CIA Director George Tenet sitting behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the United Nations, providing him with credibility as Powell told a series of half-truths, would not be repeated.

How easily it could have.

RE: Quitting Over Syria

The rest of my post from The American Conservative:

Lofgren was one of a number of Beltway critics balking at a letter signed last week by 60 mostly neoconservative throw-backs from the Iraq War including Paul Bremer, Karl Rove, Dan Senor, and Elliott Abrams calling for the president “to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria.”

Led by neoconservative scion William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, the signatories are the latest incarnation of the now-defunct Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which in 1998 wrote to President Bill Clinton urging the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. PNAC once represented a powerful swath of the Washington neoconservative policy establishment, but later drew fire for its role in the run up to the Iraq War. It elicited particular ire after the promised weapons of mass destruction were never found and the United States became mired in an insurgency that none of the letter’s signatories many of whom occupied top policy jobs in the Bush Administration had anticipated.

PNAC later resurfaced as the Foreign Policy Initiative, which, along with the kindred Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, has pushed for an extended presence in Afghanistan, big defense budgets, and Syria as the next beachhead of regime change in the Middle East.

“You would think they would be so discredited they would be shamed, but they have no shame,” Lofgren tells TAC.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link

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