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28 June 2017

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Degringolade

It's a goat rodeo,

That's all.

Those never turn out well.

Time to check the supplies in the larder.

BraveNewWorld

>"Reports, following the Spicer warnings indicated that the National Security team had not been consulted before the statement was issued. "

I have to wonder what it is going to take before the leadership in Congress or the Senate takes some of the people in the White House aside for some discussion on how things are done. Apparently none of the supposed allies were given a heads up.

makelovenotwar

quote
US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said that Syria's chemical weapons programme goes "far beyond one airfield".

The comment appears to be a reference to the Syrian airfield which the United States struck in April, alleging the President Bashar al-Assad had used it to launch a chemical weapons attack on his own people.

Mr Mattis said he believes the Syrian regime has now stockpiled chemical weapons in other parts of the country, in violation of international agreements.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/syria-chemical-weapons-latest-james-mattis-airfield-comments-defence-secretary-bashar-al-assad-a7811996.html

wisedupearly

Not sure that "walked back" the CW claims is the correct description of Mattis statement.
What we are going to see is a daily parade of WH heavies stating "Another day without a heinous CW attack by Assad. Trump's warning was like from god."

This administration knows everything about CW in Syria. It sees all, and does absolutely nothing. Or is that they are lying?

Peter AU

A lot of op-eds ect in MSM that US is losing Syria to Iran.

What was the Spicer press statement floating the idea of war on Syria about?
Test the waters? Drum up support? Drum up opposition? Spicer and Haley posted tweets long before the press statement appeared at the white house website
Going by the replies to Spicer and Haley's Tweets, they may has well have run the same headlines as b in his article - "White House Says It Will Fake "Chemical Weapon Attack" In Syria"

Spicer twitter post
https://twitter.com/PressSec/status/879520906963554305

Haley twitter post
https://twitter.com/nikkihaley/status/879528793135878145

Kutte

Harper,

I still nurture the hope that Trump has a plan and knows what he is doing. Look at historical figures like De Gaulle or Gorbatchev. They had come to realize that the system they had taken over was beyond repair, but was still powerful enough to cause immense damage. So they had to play along with it for a while, whilst all the time determined to cure it by giving up unsustainable positions.

Old Microbiologist

My guess is that two things have happened to derail this pretty obvious false flag. The first is the momentum Hersh finally got for his article and the second was a very clear warning from Lavrov that any attack on Syrian forces would be met in a proportional matter by the Russians. With 6 new ships on station those would be juicy targets and another opportunity to test the jamming systems. However, there are quite a few US SPECOPS soldiers running loose in Syria not to mention the illegal base which could be equally demonstrative. I had wondered how Lavrov's promise would be met by the Trump team. Next up will be an equal promise to Israel.

Remember, Russians never bluster or threaten. If they say something then it is a guarantee unlike the US. This is another issue the US analysts and politicians fail to understand. This is the country that burned their own farmlands and cities to the ground (twice) when invaded thus depriving invaders with any potential support. This is also the same country that would shoot retreating soldiers (my wife's aunt received an Order of Lenin in the Battle of Moscow for doing that). These are seriously tough people.

turcopolier

Peter AU

As you have been told, the Spicer statement was a display of the triviality and impulsiveness of DJT's adolescent mind. It will be interesting to see how long Mattis lasts. pl

turcopolier

All

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that Sy Hersh, Phil Geraldi, Larry Johnson, Harper and I all know each other and occasionally meet for lunch at an "undisclosed location." pl

turcopolier

All

Mattis said on the plane to Europe that the Syrian government has other CW program scattered around the country. I would like to see the evidence for that. pl

plantman

Colonel,

What kind of man is Mattis?
He has said that he didn't want to get more deeply involved in Syria, but now he's making threats. What's that all about?

My guess is that he has limited tactical objectives, like consolidating control e of the Euphrates, Taqba dam area and Deir ezzor.

A chem weapon false flag would give him the opportunity to pursue those objectives.

Allen Thomson


Quite a while back there was a flurry of reports concerning possible chemical weapons storage sites that, AFAIK, were never confirmed or refuted. In one case, however, there's satellite imagery of one of the reported sites that seems to show adits cut into a mountain a bit south of Masjaf. I keep hoping that more concrete information about them will appear.

https://fas.org/irp/eprint/cw-syria.pdf

Babak Makkinejad

You cannot compare De Gaulle with Gorbachev and certainly neither of them with Trump; De Gaulle was the man who redeemed an entire country, did not accept defeat and in 1941 was the man who stood for France and then became France.

Bill H

I wonder how many remember the Obama pledge for "no boots on the ground in Syria" and made the connection with that statement while watching CBS News make the statement last night that there are 6000 US troops on the ground in Syria today who are "put at risk by Syria's chemical weapons."

Not that they are actually at risk from "Syria's chemical weapons," which I don't believe they actually are, or that there are actually 6000 of them. There may be 600 or 60,000. I would not believe CBS if they told me that the Pope was in Rome.

Greco

Has Mattis also disclosed the actual legal "justification" for why Trump ordered the strike on the Shayrat air base?

The official narrative for the attack is indeed premised on a false flag; there is no way Assad ordered a chemical attack.

That said, Mattis acknowledge something else here. By acknowledging there are still chemical weapons in Syria under Assad's control, he acknowledges some sort of intelligence exists bolstering such a claim. Mattis is one of the more trusted, reliable voices in the Trump administration afterall. He wouldn't make a claim like this on the basis of mere conjecture or because it conveniently fitted with the narrative Trump wants to push.

If indeed these chemical weapons exist, then this violates the agreement Obama made with Putin in response to the 2013 Ghouta attack.

As I understood it, this was the actual justification, the legal one, for why Trump ordered a strike against the Shayrat airbase. Trump was given intelligence indicating there were stock piles of chemical weapons in Syria prior to that decision. A couple of media reports even emerged suggesting how these weapons may have been stored at the base, although no actual proof of the CW existance was given.

The idea that there are still stockpiles of chemical weapons under Assad's controls isn't something Trump concoted in his mind or something he learned as a result of cable news. Instead, this is the intelligence Trump has been fed. It's the same intelligence upon which Mattis bases his view that the Syrian government still has CW.

If this is the case, which I strongly suspect to be so, then this leaves me with three questions:

1. What is the source of this intelligence?

2. What hard evidence has this source given of a Syrian stockpile of chemical weapons or of any such program existing?

3. And since Trump decided to blurt out (via Spicer) that Syria was planning more CW attacks, then why did he run with that claim and not simply claim that Assad is keeping stock of chemical weapons or continuing a chemical weapons program in violation to the agreement Putin made with Obama? Mattis has denied the former, but admitted the latter.

Harper

Yes, as many of you have noted, words are mere words, and can change on a dime, particularly with this fickle Commander-in-Chief. Mattis also told reporters en route to NATO that the deconfliction channel with Russia is working and is working at many levels, all the way up to Dunford-Gerasimov. All of this is happening in the run-up to a possibly first face-to-face meeting between Trump and Putin on July 7 in Hamburg, Germany on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting. Some in Washington would no doubt like to see a "U-2 incident" occur in the next week, to scuttle that face-to-face meeting. The Russiagate noise in Washington was temporarily muted last week due to the fixation on the health care bill, but it will return. The sanctions bill against Russia (attached to the Iran sanctions bill) will not be taken up by the House until AFTER the July 4 recess, due to opposition from the White House, some tricky constitutional issues, etc. A lot of moving parts and uncertainties in all of this. I agree that the Hersh article getting traction and the Russian clear statements had a chilling effect on those looking to stage another false flag incident.

Fred

Babak,

De Gaulle had a lot of help from other French men and women.

Fred

BNW,

The "Resistance" has been doing some "Establishment" explaining to Trump for six months now.

sid_finster

What on earth makes you think, in spite of the abundant evidence to the contrary, that Trump has a "plan"?

sid_finster

It's an excuse, nothing more, just as "WMD" was the excuse used to make war on Iraq.

Anyone who has seen a barroom bully in action knows that no amount of reason or moral sympathy will dissuade him from a fight, if that's what he wants. Nor does it do any good to point out the glaring logical inconsistencies in his excuses for starting a fight.

Like barroom bullies, sociopaths, such as the folks that have been running the United States for some time now, care nothing for logic, reason, evidence, ethics or morality. They care for their own power. If logic, etc. gets them what they want, then that is what they may use. If not, they use something else.

Sociopaths learn from nothing other than reward and punishment. The good news is that they do learn.

Peter AU

Since writing the comment, I have been coming around to that while watching this play out. Your disclosure also makes a difference.
Not a word from Trump on the subject. Standing back and letting the lackeys (perhaps not the best term?) handle the fallout - first scrambling for a narrative, then a way to wind it down.

jld

IIRC there are very likely some remnants of chemical weapons in Syria but this is because the remnant stocks WERE UNDER REBEL CONTROL at the time of the removal and thus could not be reached.
So, this is indeed very convenient by now:
Hey! Assad cheated!

Jackrabbit

Thanks for the full disclosure.

I'm wondering WHY Trump wouldn't listen to his intel analysts. The explanation proffered by Hersh/Hersh sources is that Trump is a bit crazy and stubborn. That superficial observation doesn't come close to explaining Trump's pivotal change in mindset.

Not only did Trump go against the informed opinion of his intel analysts, but he also went against his 'America First' campaign promises AND his advice to Obama in 2013 (he urged Obama NOT to bomb Syria in a series of tweets).

Possibilities offered: Trump:
>> "Beautiful babies"

>> Trump apologists: media & political opponents (Deep State!!)

>> Hersh: Trump's personality

None of these strike me as being sufficient to explain Trump's decision.

Are we supposed to ignore Trump's visit to in Saudi Arabia only weeks after the bombing? A visit in which he signed defense deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars? Was it Hersh or the Die Welt editors that refrained from making the Saudi connection?

John_Frank

With great respect, have not read the Washington Post, but according to the audio recording of what was said during the Media Availability with The Defense Secretary, hard to see how one can categorize what he said as walking back the chemical weapons claim.

In his answers, he also reiterated the administration's claim that the Syrian Government has chemical weapons.

For more read Trump's warning to Syria on chemical weapons worked, Jim Mattis says http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2627298

The DC Examiner report includes audio of the question and answer session with the Defense Secretary.

People can also read the transcript of the audio from the following:

Media Availability by Secretary Mattis en route to Belgium
https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1232049/media-availability-by-secretary-mattis-en-route-to-belgium/

As to the reports in the media about the appropriate people not being contacted before the President issued his statement, read the following tweet from Jennifer Epstein, White House reporter for Bloomberg News:

"Anonymous reporting" that other agencies didn't know about Syria situation before WH statement is "false," @SHSanders45 says
https://twitter.com/jeneps/status/879706741306302464

With her tweet, Ms. Epstein posted an image of the full statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary for the White House, Sara H. Sanders, which reads:

In regard to several inquiries regarding the Syrian statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies -- including State, DOD, CIA and ODNI -- were involved in the process from the beginning. Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false.

One can disagree with the administration's analysis and policy, but on April 11 and again on April 21 Defense Secretary Mattis stated (paraphrasing):

1. The Syrian Government retains chemical weapons despite their promise to give them up;

2. If the Syrian Government uses them again there will be very serious consequences; and

3. The diplomats will have to address the Syrian Government to honoring its word about destroying all of the chemical weapons stock pile.

April 11 - Press Conference by Secretary Mattis and Gen. Votel in the Pentagon Briefing Room
https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1148604/press-conference-by-secretary-mattis-and-gen-votel-in-the-pentagon-briefing-room/

April 21 - Joint News Conference with Secretary Mattis and Minister of Defense Lieberman in Tel Aviv, Israel
https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1160212/joint-news-conference-with-secretary-mattis-and-minister-of-defense-lieberman-i/

As to the report by Mr. Hersh and generally on this whole topic,

- In the early the morning of April 4, while the attack by the Syrian Arab Air Force on Khan Sheikhun was occurring, video was shot by the person tasked with mounting an early warning observation post for that town.

The video shows four columns of smoke rising from the ground from four different locations after the attack was carried out.

This would suggest more than one bomb was dropped.

A subsequent video shot later in the day shows what looks like a white cloud of some sort of substance hovering over the town.

- According to reports, an air attack was launched on the local hospital later on April 4, during the time frame when the Russian Ministry of Defense says that the initial attack was carried out.

- Kareem Shaheen, a Middle East reporter based in Beirut, Lebanon and working for the Guardian visited Khan Sheihkun shortly after the attack. The following report was posted on the Guardian website on April 6:

'The dead were wherever you looked': inside Syrian town after gas attack
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/06/the-dead-were-wherever-you-looked-inside-syrian-town-after-chemical-attack

For a profile of Kareem Shaheeen - https://www.theguardian.com/profile/kareem-shaheen

As an aside, from his twitter feed, @kshaheen, seems that he is based in Instanbul, not Beirut as the Guardian profile states.

- April 11 - Press Conference by Secretary Mattis and Gen. Votel in the Pentagon Briefing Room
https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1148604/press-conference-by-secretary-mattis-and-gen-votel-in-the-pentagon-briefing-room/

- April 11 - Trump: ‘We’re not going into Syria’ http://nypost.com/2017/04/11/trump-were-not-going-into-syria/

- April 13 - A Discussion on National Security with CIA Director Mike Pompeo https://www.csis.org/analysis/discussion-national-security-cia-director-mike-pompeo

- April 19 press report from the OPCW:

OPCW Director-General Shares Incontrovertible Laboratory Results Concluding Exposure to Sarin https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-director-general-shares-incontrovertible-laboratory-results-concluding-exposure-to-sarin/

- May 19 - Department of Defense Press Briefing by Secretary Mattis, General Dunford and Special Envoy McGurk on the Campaign to Defeat ISIS in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1188225/department-of-defense-press-briefing-by-secretary-mattis-general-dunford-and-sp/

- June 24 Hugh Hewitt interviewed CIA Director Mike Pompeo

Transcript Of Interview With CIA Director Mike Pompeo
http://www.hughhewitt.com/transcript-interview-cia-director-mike-piompeo/

- June 27 Media Availability with Secretary Mattis en route to Europe
https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1231010/media-availability-with-secretary-mattis-en-route-to-europe/

- June 28 Media Availability by Secretary Mattis en route to Belgium
https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1232049/media-availability-by-secretary-mattis-en-route-to-belgium/

Yes, Mr. Hersch's report, which is based on anonymous sources, reflects a version of events. In certain key aspects, his report is not consistent with certain key evidence, nor all the statements by officials that are on the record.

The questions that I have concerning what transpired, in the early morning hours of April 4, are as follows:

- Did the Syrian Air Force launch an attack on a jihadist facility in Khan Sheikhun resulting in a toxic gas cloud being emitted causing mass casualties?

- Did that toxic gas cloud contain a sarin like substance?

- Alternatively, did the Syrian Air Force launch a chemical weapons attack using sarin gas?

- If the toxic gas cloud did not contain a sarin like substance and the Syrian Air Force did not launch a chemical weapons attack using sarin gas, who did? Was someone trying to create an incident that would cause the administration to change its policy towards Syria?

- Later that day, did the Syrian Air Force carry out an attack on the local hospital in the area, causing additional casualties?

I continue to await the report of the OPCW fact finding mission and the subsequent OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism report.

From a policy perspective, one can take issue with the President's decision to authorize the attack on the Syrian Air Force base on April 7 and to issue a warning to the Syrian Government on June 26.

However, the President made a decision on April 11. He is not going to authorize an invasion of Syria. The current US military mission in Syria, as authorized by the UN Security Council, is to defeat and destroy the Islamic State.

At the same time, if US or allied forces are attacked by Syrian, Iranian or aligned forces, the US will respond. Hence the need for continuous de-confliction to avoid incidents as explained by Defense Secretary Mattis during the media briefing on June 27.

Furthermore, if the Syrian Government conducts another chemical weapons attack, or an attack which results in mass causalities due to exposure to toxic gas, the US will respond.

In that regard, the UN Secretary General met with Secretary Tillerson at the State Department yesterday. The Secretary - General was asked about the warning issued by the President issued through the Press Secretary:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcomes @UN Secretary General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres to the @StateDept.
https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/880115447001042944

As the transcript reveals, the UN Secretary General was asked:

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you think President Assad heard the President – President Trump’s warning?

SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES: Sorry?

QUESTION: Do you think that President Assad heard President Trump’s warning about the Syrian chemical weapons attack?

SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES: I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t hear what you are saying.

QUESTION: Do you think that President Assad heard President Trump’s warning about the Syrian chemical weapons attack?

SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES: I believe it was a serious warning, and I think serious warnings should be heard.

All that written, it remains my view that before the President authorizes an attack on the Syrian Arab Republic in response to a claimed chemical weapons attack, he needs to go to Congress.

Could be all wet. Just my two cents on this whole subject.

P.S. With the collapse of the Russian collusion narrative, this may make it easier for the President to attempt to repair relations with Russia. In that regard, yesterday we learned:

Statement from the Press Secretary on President Donald J. Trump’s Visit to France on Bastille Day https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/28/statement-press-secretary-president-donald-j-trumps-visit-france

different clue

I am hoping that this is indeed some sort of impulsive outburst which gets walked back. My first impression when I heard it on National Public Fake News Radio was that the President with the unanimous support of the DC FedRegime PermaGov was promising the rebels that if they could plan and carry out a gas attack, that the DC FedRegime Gov would accuse Assad of doing it and would launch major attacks against SAR forces and facilities.

Should I still think that? If having credible observers on the ground around every SAR military facility would make it more difficult to accuse Assad of the rebel chemical attack which the Trump announcement seems designed to me to have been inviting, would Russia decide to put such observers there? If Saudi Arabia would object to America putting such supporters there also, could credible Civil-Society-Group Americans be invited to send observers?

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