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25 June 2017

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wisedupearly

Please, read the entire article to get a good image of the problem we face. We have admit that our system of politics is no longer dependable in terms of producing the leaders we need.
"The intelligence made clear that a Syrian Air Force SU-24 fighter bomber had used a conventional weapon to hit its target: There had been no chemical warhead. And yet it was impossible for the experts to persuade the president of this once he had made up his mind. “The president saw the photographs of poisoned little girls and said it was an Assad atrocity,” the senior adviser said. “It’s typical of human nature. You jump to the conclusion you want. Intelligence analysts do not argue with a president. They’re not going to tell the president, ‘if you interpret the data this way, I quit.’”
Trump's failure is far worse than interpreting data wrongly. He saw a chance to show Obama up and enhance his own glory.

Outrage Beyond

Published alongside the main article is this transcript of a conversation provided to Hersh.

https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905618/We-got-a-fuckin-problem.html

begob

Fascinating read. Thanks for the link.

The American Conservative gives a summary of the arming of the opposition in Syria: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-america-armed-terrorists-in-syria/

anobserver

It is revealing that Seymour Hersh, an established, prominent, well-regarded and credible journalist, now gets his investigations on Syria published in European magazines.

It was already the case for his famous articles "Whose Sarin?" (London Review of Books 35(24), 2013-12-19), "The Red Line and the Rat Line" (LRB 36(8), 2014-04-17), and "Military to Military" (LRB 38(1), 2016-01-07). And now this one in die Welt.

The clamping-down on anything that does not fit the dominant ideological narrative in the USA must be truly implacable for him to have switched from the New Yorker to British and German outlets.

turcopolier

anobserver

Yes, the Borg is successfully trying todeny him access to the public square. pl

Emad

Colonel,

Were the Trump administration to go fix intelligence around policy like the Bush II administration, do you think the stovepipers are more likely to congregate at the DOD (a la OSP) or NSC? And around whom would they coalesce?

turcopolier

Emad

I do no understand your comment. What are "stovpipers? pl

Morongobill

The back and forth over 3 days between an unnamed Security Advisor and an unnamed Active Duty American soldier over there is well worth a read to see what people on ground think about the Russian capabilities and response. See the got a problem link above.

ex-PFC Chuck

At first blush one might think that The Borg is trying to set Trump up to take the hit for their mistake or malfeasance. However, given The Borg's known and long-standing hostility to Hersh, and given his wide and thorough sourcing, that suggestion doesn't wash. All I can say is Holy S**t!

Eric Newhill

My sense of this situation is that Trump was facing a political trap created by the Borg. The events at Khan Sheikhoun were exactly as the Russians said they were, right from the beginning. Trump was made aware of this. However, the Borg was prepared to spring the trap based on that reality.

Had Trump repeated what the Russians said and, based on that, announced that he'd take no action, in the midst of the emotional jihadist/white helmet propaganda films showing dead children, then the Borg would have used that agreement as evidence that Trump is, indeed, in collusion with Russia. On top of all of the "investigations" into allegations of collusion, that might have been the final straw for the Trump presidency.

So Trump made a somewhat savvy political decision. He'd react by condemning Assad's use of poison gas [albeit a known false narrative] and firing a few missiles at some backwater air station after giving the Russians a heads-up and time to evacuate personnel, ordnance and equipment of any value.

The Borg reacted to Trump's "decisiveness" exactly as Trump calculated they would. As long as the Russians understand the US political environment and how it forced Trump's hand in this instance, perhaps freeing him to be a better partner with Russia when it counts down the road, things should work out ok.

At least, IMO, that is a reasonable alternative to the Trump is a criminal blockhead who doesn't listen to intelligence theory.

Emad

Colonel,

The likes of Bill Luti, Adam Shulsky and others at OSP. An alternative facts analytic shop.

David Habakkuk

All,

I am sorry to see that the ‘London Review of Books’ has chosen to tarnish what has been, in recent years, a generally rather distinguished record.

From the explanation by ‘Die Welt’ of how they came to publish the article:

‘Hersh had also offered the article to the London Review of Books. The editors accepted it, paid for it, and prepared a fact checked article for publication, but decided against doing so, as they told Hersh, because of concerns that the magazine would vulnerable to criticism for seeming to take the view of the Syrian and Russian governments when it came to the April 4th bombing in Khan Sheikhoun.’

(See https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165906452/The-Fog-of-War.html .)

turcopolier

Emad

These people in the WH and the Trump Administration generally accomplish the same things by agreeing with each other whatever the facts may indicate. pl

pmr9


Although I don't doubt that Hersh is reporting accurately what his sources have told him, their version of what happened on the ground in Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April doesn't completely make sense.

Hersh reports that a single guided 500 lb bomb was dropped on the target - a two-storey building on the northern edge of town that was being used as a jihadi command centre - at 6.55 am, and that this caused secondary explosions releasing a toxic cloud formed by "fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement".

The videos have been reviewed in detail by Adam Larson on ACLoS and on his libyancivilwar.blogspot.com site. They show three smoke plumes, each located to a site at which ground photos and before/after satellite images show bomb damage. Two of these sites are on the northern edge of town and could match Hersh's description of the target. They are between 200 metres and 400 metres southwest of the crater in the road that was alleged to be the impact site of a sarin munition.

The videos also show a fog spreading over the town from two different sources, neither of which are near the sites of bomb damage. The continuous release of this fog over at least 20 minutes suggests that something like smoke machines were being used.

The secondary explosion hypothesis doesn't match the video evidence, doesn't explain the positive tests for sarin, doesn't explain the large number of deaths, and can't explain fatalities among victims who were supposedly upwind of the impact site.

The hypothesis that best explains the video and forensic evidence is that this was a managed massacre of captives, using small quantities of sarin to generate forensic evidence and that the fog (possibly containing something noxious) was generated as a special effect together with the crater in the road. The captives were most likely killed at the quarry/cave complex at about 7 am, then redistributed around hospitals and morgues.

All this had to be prepared in advance: the jihadis had to have captives held nearby,
smoke machines in position, medical facilities under their control, one or two actors prepared to play the part of bereaved parents, cameramen and video editing suites in readiness. For this they would have needed advance warning of the airstrike.

Hersh says that the notification of the strike was provided by the Russians "days in advance ... to American and allied military officials in Doha". Later he says "I was told that the Russians passed the warning directly to the CIA". So not only the US military, but "allied military officials" or the CIA could have passed on a warning to the jihadis that there would be an air strike on this target. They may not have realized that this warning would be used to prepare another Ghouta-type false flag massacre.

It's possible that the jihadis chose Khan Sheikhoun as the site of this operation, then fed the R+6 with information that would draw an airstrike on the town. Hersh hints that the US tipped off the Russians that the site was a jihadi command and control facility: ''When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility,” the adviser added, referring to the target in Khan Sheikhoun, “we do what we can to help them act on it."''

It's puzzling that Hersh's sources are still fixed on the secondary explosion hypothesis when it can so easily be debunked. They may be reluctant to contemplate what a pre-planned massacre implies: that the intelligence sharing and deconfliction arrangements described by Hersh have been exploited by the jihadis and their foreign allies.

Publius Tacitus

It is not a "theory" it is a fact. Trump would not listen to the intel. The folks on the frontlines could not understand why he was insisting Sarin had been used when they knew that was not the case.

Bill Herschel

The significance of the article is not who Trump does NOT take advice from, but who he does.

The article states that Trump does not read anything. He only watches Fox News. Rupert Murdoch is directing the Executive branch of the government. The Borg wants minority rule. Now, that's real minority rule.

Of course, this "we begged him not to do it" business apotheosizes the CIA and the military. Their track record is not quite divine, so this too must be taken with a grain of salt. I guess the fundamental point is that no one in the United States should give a damn about what happens in Syria. The Russians should and do. That is will prove determinative.

Babak Makkinejad

Trumps bombing of Syria was welcomed by many among the electorate as well as by members of his own political party.

I come back to the words of Rosalyn Carter - that American people prefer war to peace - and should think she knows the minds of her fellow-country-men better than I do.

US is reported to have spent $ 500 million to equip illegal fighters to wage war against the legitimate authority in Syria; all the while such cities as Flint were suffering undrinkable water; with nary a peep out of the electorate.

In England, I suspect, there would at least have been a call for a vote of confidence in the parliament.

Eric Newhill

PT,
If the story is true, then, obviously, Trump did not "listen" to the intel and it is not a theory. I have to agree with that.

However, what I am addressing is *why* he didn't "listen" to the intel.

The part about Trump being an incurious - or perhaps somewhat insane - blockhead remains in the realm of theory.

I am proposing that he may have heard the intel just fine and then elected to take contrary action for political reasons. I know leaders of big divisions within big corporations that listen to various, often competing, inputs and then make a decision and, once that decision is made, a narrative is issued and all inputs that would seem to indicate a different course of action are silenced; totally down the memory hole.

Early in my corporate career I had provided requested input to a much higher up that I thought (and still do upon reflection) was highly relevant and significant to the decision that was being made. At the end of the day, leadership settled on a course of action that failed to assimilate the input I had submitted. It was like it wasn't listened to. I felt compelled to reiterate my concern and state that there should be a plan 'B' in case what I had offered came to pass. btw, this would be the military equivalent of a butter bar offering somewhat unsolicited advice to a full bird colonel, though other aspects of my participation at this point had been requested. I'll never forget the response. It was the first time I experienced such a reaction, but certainly not the last.

This man stared at me in a most penetrating way and with a stone face and, basically, robotically issued a proclamation on the nature of reality - and that reality didn't include my ideas despite those ideas being based on solid data and analysis. "A challenge arose because of 'X' [false attribution, based on my shop's analysis]. The company now has only options A and B [my analysis showed that there were also good options C and D]. We are moving forward with option A because it will provide the most opportunity for the company to become profitable again in the market [my shop had presented ample evidence that option A was the worst choice]. We will be profitable again by third quarter next year [totally unsupported opinion and blind faith, IMO]". And this then became the message repeated without exception by all of the higher-ups. It is a style that is often used in the corporate world. Not saying it's a good style, just that it exists.

I know that was a lengthy response and I hope it didn't come off as too much gibberish to get to a point. I just think it is reasonable that Trump was employing that style, which I have seen enough to be accustomed to it.

Peter AU

Re the second link. Do many people recall or record a casual conversation that took place over three days word for word? Seems a bit odd.

Publius Tacitus

My understanding is that the actual strike took place southwest of Khan Sheikoun. I think you are right--someone who had access to the info the Russians shared with the US days before the strike was passed to the Islamists (they did not know the precise locations of the strike) and they were able to stage a mass casualty event.

ISL

Dear Colonel,

From the conversation:

"The Russian air defense system is capable of taking out our TLAMs"

I guess Trump would not listen if someone was to tell him that either.

LeaNder

Emad, you should read all four articles linked above. It's a great collection, not least the glimpse of the exchange between adviser and soldier; sounds pretty real to me. If not then at least the first.

Apparently Hersh doesn't seem to have found evidence about stove-pipers in whatever he could find out about the US attack. Adding to what has been interpreted by many others before, including some here.

Interesting is Hersh's short summary of the quite possibly semi-informed senior official briefing media post 'mission accomplished'. Or his aside on the media which ignored every little verbal trace of hesitations present in the briefing.

We all remain more or less connected to earlier assumption, till disproved, I guess. I for instance, admittedly was a bit hesitant to trust Trump's new approach to Russia. ... considering the larger context of his campaign ...

That's why for me, I obviously cannot check, this passage sticked out for me:

The president was also initially opposed to the idea of giving the Russians advance warning before the strike, but reluctantly accepted it.

Willybilly

This whole deliberate cacophony in DC could be a prelude to a major false flag somewhere, whereby no one would be made responsible or unswerable, since Potus is out of wack, and his admin is in tatters on every level...?

BrotherJoe

As John Maynard Keynes remarked of President Wilson " it was harder to de-bamboozle this old Presbyterian than it had been to bamboozle him;"

ToivoS

The LRB's behavior was indeed disheartening. This anti-Russian hysteria has even effected them.

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