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29 August 2013

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David Habakkuk

So Clapper has dumped Obama and Kerry – and also Cameron and Hague – right in it. This is turning out a very good day.

I was particularly struck by the paragraph in the AP report which read:

“Ideally, the White House seeks intelligence that links the attack directly to Assad or someone in his inner circle to rule out the possibility that a rogue element of the military decided to use chemical weapons without Assad's authorization. Another possibility that officials would hope to rule out: that stocks had fallen out of the government's control and were deployed by rebels in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war.”

If both claims made here are correct, it would seem that we do have a ‘slam dunk’: conclusive evidence that the American and British governments have conspired together in what looks like a callous, but rather imperfectly calculated, attempt to lie their peoples into war.

I see the report quotes administration officials as saying that ‘neither the U.N. Security Council, which is deciding whether to weigh in, or allies' concerns would affect their plans.’ Can they ignore a clear statement by their own intelligence people that they did not have the evidence they claimed to have?

William R. Cumming

Just the facts Mam! I guess Clapper too young to remember Sgt. Friday!

turcopolier

David Habakkuk

IMO you are correct. There is little doubt that Clapper or other IC seniors leaked this material to AP. They are trapped between on the one hand a WH that wants war without understanding the consequences of war and on the other hand a work force at least partially in rebellion against being forced once again to make "s--t into shinola." In the photograph the UN man is standing next to what looks like the tail fin assembly of an artillery rocket. Such bits of junk usually are identifiable by origin, production run, etc. pl

Rocketrepreneur

I sincerely hope they can actually get to the bottom of who did this. I doubt it will change the course of what the Obama Administration does, but I'd at least like to know whether we were being suckered into a war (again) under false pretenses, or whether it was just a case of Obama usurping Congress's right to declare war, when he probably could've gotten permission if he had bothered to ask...

~Jon

rick

Boy. It must be that the corporate media and powers behind the scenes that are in control of the British government decided against war.

Surely the citizenry could not have put sufficient pressure on parliament to have had this effect.

Maybe the Brits could send us some civil society, pro democracy activist types to teach Americans this trick. We seem to have lost the knack.

Jose

I applaud the British Labour Party and the "mother of parliaments." God bless. pl

Just saw the Shadow Minister speak and wished we had anything even resembling a shadow cabinet.

Aidan

I think the critical thing in the UK is that in 2010 election there was no overall majority. Conservatives are in a coalition with LibDem (traditionally anti-war particularly at grass roots) and even then have a very thin majority. Without Labour support they have almost no chance of carrying a vote as a number of backbenchers are likely to rebel regardless of party position. Tony Blair in 2003, on the other hand, had a solid majority (roughly two thirds of all MPs were Labour) and could push through pretty much what he liked.

Those at the very top might be in favour but the political layer below (backbench MPs, party activists etc.) are generally against and this has put a brake on it. The mainstream media (BBC, newspapers), isn't coming down strongly one way or the other, although I note they are much less critical of the reliability of the evidence than this blog is.

Also public opinion is more strongly against than it is in the US. I think at least two-thirds are opposed to even air strikes. Personally I think there is no strong evidence yet that the attack was ordered by top level of Syrian regime, and I can't imagine what military intervention is both affordable and likely to be effective, so attacking at this point would be counter productive. I wrote to my MP yesterday to put this point.

turcopolier

Aidan

The "anti" numbers are very high here as well. pl

YT

Col, sir,

The phrase "sell" is indeed apt.

Everything on mainstream media has been calling the rebels "the Free Syria Army".

What was it T. Sherman said about newspaper men?

Most glad I get my sources thru you, one with Experience & balanced views.

David Habakkuk

Aidan,

I agree with almost all of that.

However, a critical point about the AP report is that it makes clear that the American intelligence community does not have conclusive evidence that the attack was the work of the Syrian regime -- rather than being a 'false flag' operation by the insurgents. If they don't have such evidence, Cameron and Clegg don't have it either.

In addition to this, one has to bring into the picture the fact that both the Saudis, with Bandar in the driving seat, and also the Israelis, are clearly angling not simply to get the U.S. to produce a kind of 'rap on the knuckles' attack on Syria.

There seems at least reason to suspect that they are counting on the inability of Obama and Cameron to grasp the escalatory possibilities of the situation to engage the U.S. on their side in a kind of 'existential' conflict.

The combination of the financial and technical resources possessed by the Saudis and the Israelis, together with their neoconservative collaborators both in the U.S. and U.K., is clearly quite up to organising highly sophisticated 'false flag' operations.

Whether such an operation could be at issue we do not, at the moment, know. But the fact that the possibility does not appear even to be contemplated by, for instance, the BBC, is a reflection of how far journalistic standards have fallen in the U.K., as in the U.S., over the past generation. The disastrous impact of Lord Hutton is, of course, part of the picture here.

ISL

"s--t into shinola." is wonderfully appropriate.

Given the source of the likely intercept, and that Israel has been working with some of the FSA, the strong possibility of a false flag op should have prevented Obama against boxing himself into a corner (again).

If shown to be the rebels (irrespective of other actors), then I expect Bengazi 2 investigations in the house about war powers, or how it went wrong, or the color of the missiles during the midterms (92% US citizens oppose, so a clear electoral plus for republicans).

Knowing the community, no love would be lost by Israel or its US fans if Obama was embroiled in scandal (or if escallation caused the US to occupy Syria for the next decade). Sounds win-win except for the US. Even juancole is wondering why someone so intelligent (Obama) seems to be so shallow in his thinking.

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

I know that is true.

However, from my -- admittedly entirely inadequate -- observation of comments on reports in the American MSM, I think there are some differences.

On American sites, visceral anger is common, but it is still not the overwhelmingly predominant note, as it is here.

Another difference may be that in the UK the 'hasbara' people have practically disappeared. I think they have given us up as a lost cause.

Tyler

Thirteen years of globalist BS, and they still can't change their tune. Reminds me of that CNN journalist wailing about how blue eyed babies were being bayonetted within their incubators by Iraqi soldiers or some nonsense. "There is no new thing under the sun."

robt willmann

U.S. Representative Alan Grayson (Dem.-Florida) said today, "Raytheon's stock is up 20% in the last 60 days. No one wants US intervention in Syria except the military-industrial complex."

https://twitter.com/AlanGrayson/statuses/373087896183402496

And here is a fascinating photograph allegedly from 2009 of Bashar al-Assad and his wife, and John Kerry and his wife, having an intimate dinner for four, possibly at the Naranj restaurant, which I guess is in Damascus.

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2013/08/john-kerry-and-his-wife-and-bashshar-al.html

Is that restaurant on the cruise missile target list? It better not be. It looks like a great place.

JohnH

Apart from political campaigns, Obama has been a singularly poor leader in terms of motivating people to act. He never seriously campaigned for Obamacare and did little to prevent Republicans from turning it into a negative. Now there is the Syria stuff, which has turned into a real PR fiasco.

My guess on the Syria CW is that Saudi Arabia and Israel, fresh from a win in Egypt, decided to go for the kill. Obama's embarrassing impotence in Egypt combined with his own highly publicized "red lines" would certainly make him act, they probably reasoned.

They evidently forgot about his inability to communicate and lead...

Castellio

I have a hard time believing Obama was "trapped". He set the red line. Then he said he knew the red line had been crossed. Now he implies attacks against the US.

That is not being trapped. That is pursuing a policy. How long ago was the policy set? Well, it was clear when he said that Assad had to go that he believed Assad had to go. More than a year ago.

Given that, it can't be said, either, that he is motivated by "fear of the Republicans".

zanzibar

David

It seems from the Guardian article on the JIC report that there is no conclusive evidence that the Syrian army did it, just a deductive reasoning based on capability.

"In an echo of the buildup to the Iraq war in 2003, Downing Street took the rare step of releasing the assessment of the JIC to support its case that the Assad regime was responsible.

But the assessment was mainly based on "open source" evidence such as video footage of the victims and a judgment that the opposition does not have the capability to launch such an attack."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/29/uk-intelligence-syrian-regime-chemical-weapons

As Pat has noted with much derision, "open source" social media is the new IC.

Do you think the Tory back-benchers and Ed Miliband will ultimately get railroaded into supporting Cameron's Syria attack? Note the headline on the Telegraph "Ed Miliband is giving succour to Assad, says Downing St"

steve

Yes, it's always interesting to note the quality of debate and the awareness of the issues in the House of Commons.

Compare that to the "world's greatest deliberative body", the US Senate.

Fred

"Ed Miliband is giving succour to Assad, says Downing St"

Yep, you are either with us, or against us. GWB and Tony Blair would be proud of the new tradition they started.

James Vanasek

I think some very good point have been made by all.

The key questions I have are what kind of security, command and control does the Syrian army have over its chemical weapons/nerve agents? How high ranking of an officer or government offical can give an order (that will be followed and unquestioned) to remove the ordinance from the depot where it is held? Do more than one person need to sign off on the removal of such shells - similar to the double key launch system we have on ICBMs for instance? Who can direct the firing and targeting of it?

If Pat or anyone else has some expertise in this area I think it a large post on the site would be very helpful.

The reason I ask is this possible hypothesis:

1. The previous small scale chemical weapons incidents (later proven to be done by the rebels, but no matter) are used to get Obama to commit to some sort of stance whereby he will intervene in Syria. This is done knowing the pressure that he will get from certain media outlets who harbor a pro neocon viewpoint.

2. Obama falls for the trap.

3. A high ranking Syrian officer who is really an agent on the Israeli/Saudi/or someone else's payroll gets the call from their puppeteers to pull some weapons out of storage, transport them to where they will be used and initiate the attack. Of course, the troops doing all this may think they are just normal artillery shells or rocket and not unconventional ones.

4. The rebels then post everything on youtube which enrages those calling for intervention.

5. Those people and videos get disseminated via the same media outlets I described above which puts further pressure on Obama to back up his earlier statement with action.

Fred

"Another possibility that officials would hope to rule out: that stocks had fallen out of the government's control and were deployed by rebels ..."

Another reason to get to the facts of who used these weapons. Especially with Prince Bandar's statements regarding Saudi Arabia's control of certain jihadi elements. I'm sure the Russians find all of this very reassuring. At least they'll know who to blame the next time Chechen based terrorists use chemical weapons within Russia.

jonst

Rob, I think Grayson is employing sloppy reasoning...and sloppy language. Precision is best here. To the extent it is possible, anyway.

I suspect that the bulk of military leadership is either against this operation...or neutral about it. The "industry" part of the equation is more for it. (although it is more of a 'sector' than an "industry"....And more 'intellectual property/services' than manufactured products these days. )

So sure, there economic drivers here..but I think they are secondary. Important and substantial...but secondary. I see careerism (make my bones as a tough guy cravings)...and 'do-gooderism--as the ultimate driving forces. The P2P types are leading this. The witches...and the political operatives, and their stooges in the media...who are terrified of the Dems being portrayed as 'soft' in election commercials. Good ole bat shit crazy Wilsonian overreach....with Rahm Emanuel opportunism thrown in the mix.

Just bring back the draft...with no deferments...and watch these types change their tune. Send their kids....watch em panic.

Stephanie

Don't forget that Labour is in the opposition, and its track record in backing "humanitarian" interventions is not good. Blair tried to talk Clinton into putting boots on the ground in Kosovo and he was Bush's eager henchman in the Iraq debacle. If Miliband wants to distance himself from Blairism,then well and good. We'll see what he does once in power.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

As we sit here, waiting the imminent attack on Syria, I wonder how the USA was transformed in my lifetime from the shining light on the hill into a Mussolini Corporatist State, writ large, that can’t do anything right?

It all started in the 1970’s due to the Silent Mutiny in Vietnam. The Elite and the Military discovered that the USA could not fight colonial wars with an Army of draftees. The grunts refused direct orders, fragged officers, and they told their families what Vietnam War was really like. This led to the current volunteer privatized Army. It can fight two neo colonial wars at once but is too small to win them. Second, the new Army at war makes lots of money for military contractors who do just about everything including some soldiering and are a huge force for promoting more war. They made Sunni Jihadists into crazed mad men at America’s throat; yet, these enemies are now our allies in Syria. Common Sense has disappeared.

At the same time, the Elite discovered that they could screw American workers by outsourcing, free trade, and ending the connection of wages with economic performance. Their political henchmen could still be elected by running on wedge cultural issues (gay rights). In the last decade the Elite (Military, Finance, Health Care) have cemented their control of the government. The Obama Administration is no different than the Bush II Administration. In many ways, it is worse, since it does not give a damn about the rule of law, the consequences of its military adventures from the drone wars to attacking Syria, or the opinion of the American people.

r whitman

The incubator baby bayonet story goes back to 1993 and the propaganda lead up to Desert Storm during Geo HW Bush time. 20 years and nothing is new.

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