Kerry releases his version of the ‘proof’ that Assad gassed his own people

30 August 2013 —

Well here it is , the long-awaited proof. It’s one page longer than the UK’s JIC doccie but was it worth waiting for?


Here are the highlights, that no surprise, follow the JIC’s report very closely, although the document is even more padded out than the JIC’s version of their reality,

A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations. 

If this were so, then surely the Empire would have had no hesitation in attacking? What of Obama’s much touted statement that he was waiting for confirmation before acting, if the US government had all this ‘evidence’ to hand? In fact the document claims that the USG knew something was afoot three days before the attack.

It continues in the same manner as the UK’s document,

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition. Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation. We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place. [my emph. WB]

It’s all waffle and awful lot of ‘assessing’ going on. ‘Multiple streams’ indeed! It’s even more ludicrous than the UK’s attempt and most definitely more wordy.

Then we get a page of ‘Background’ that I won’t bore you with except for this para which boilerplates the one above,

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year, including in the Damascus suburbs. This assessment is based on multiple streams of information including reporting of Syrian officials planning and executing chemical weapons attacks and laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin. We assess that the opposition has not used chemical weapons. 

The ‘meat’ however, of the document is to be found on the last two pages. The first section on page 3 is headed ‘Preparation’,

We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack. 

So if this was case, why have we waited nine days to hear about it? Revealing that you’ve got “multiple streams” of information doesn’t compromise anybody or anything. It continues under the same heading,

Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of ‘Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilization of gas masks.

This is such a detailed ‘assessment’ full of so much detail, it’s a wonder they didn’t have Powerpoint presentation on the day of the attack ready for us to absorb. Then we read this, strange sentence,

 Our intelligence sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in the days prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to use chemical weapons. 

Well of course not, as the document has already established that the ‘rebels’  don’t have the means why mention this? It’s all padding.

The final section is titled ‘The Attack’ and opens, 

Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack. 

Again, if the US had this information on the day, why did they not use it immediately? 

Local social media reports of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs began at 2:30 a.m. local time on August 21. Within the next four hours there were thousands of social media reports on this attack from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area. Multiple accounts described chemical-filled rockets impacting opposition-controlled areas. 

No one is denying that the attack took place, though there is no definitive information on the number of casualties, but the fact that the attack happened on rebel-controlled areas in no way apportions blame on anyone.

We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack. 

What world are these people living in? Everyone and their dog has a video camera these days and uploading to the Web is almost simultaneous with shooting the video. Citing dozens or even hundreds of videos proves nothing.

Finally, we get this,

We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude that regime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence. On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations. At the same time, the regime intensified the artillery barrage targeting many of the neighborhoods where chemical attacks occurred. In the 24 hour period after the attack, we detected indications of artillery and rocket fire at a rate approximately four times higher than the ten preceding days. We continued to see indications of sustained shelling in the neighborhoods up until the morning of August 26.

To conclude, there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’s responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21. As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners. 

 We are led to believe that US intelligence agencies had such a firm grasp of the situation, and several days before the event, yet it took nine days to produce this ‘proof’. Moreover, how does this alleged evidence sit against Obama’s hesitation to act, if the ‘evidence’ was so overwhelming!

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