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MIT professor says top US officials fabricated intelligence to justify attacking Syria

April 18, 2017

The guided missile destroyer USS Porter fires a Tomahawk cruise missile at a Syrian air base on Friday, April 14. – Photo: Ford Williams, AP

by Ann Garrison

Last week, Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT, released his analysis of the White House statement claiming intelligence findings that prove the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack on April 4, 2017, in Khan Shaykhun, Syria.

Postol wrote, “It can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the U.S. government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.”

Postol spoke to RT, which is, so far as I can tell, the only broadcast outlet that has interviewed him about his analysis to date. He said that this fabricated report mirrors the one generated during the Obama administration:

“I think this is an indication that there is something extremely problematic in the American national system with regard to the use of intelligence. This particular report is, in some ways, exactly parallel to the report that occurred in the Obama administration: factual claims that could not be true. Let me give you an example. They claimed that the American infrared satellites saw the launch and impact of the sarin munitions that were used in that attack.

“That is not possible. The American infrared satellites are very good and they can certainly see the launch of a rocket, but they could not tell where the rocket landed because there was no explosion when the rocket landed. They would only be able to see the flash from an explosion.

“So this is overtly wrong and no intelligence expert – I want to underscore no American intelligence expert – who knows anything about their business would have argued that this data was available. So that was fabricated. But what it indicates is a willingness on the part of high-level people in the White House to distort, to use intelligence claims that are false to make political points and political arguments.”

“What it indicates is a willingness on the part of high-level people in the White House to distort, to use intelligence claims that are false to make political points and political arguments.”

Postol said that there should be two investigations, one conducted by U.N. experts to determine what actually happened in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, on April 4, the date of the alleged Syrian attack, and another to determine who fabricated the so-called intelligence.

“A rational approach would be for there to be two investigations. There should be an international investigation, probably under the U.N., since both the Russian and American sides have, at some level, vested interests, but some organization like the U.N., where of course the Russians and Americans can provide their input and their arguments.

“And then there needs to be a second investigation. This would be an American investigation. We need an investigation into how such a false intelligence report could be generated at the highest levels of our government. This is very serious; this confrontation with Russia has some potential to escalate and if it’s escalating over false intelligence claims, that is very serious. And, in addition, I would argue that such an investigation of this report should also include a complete investigation of what happened when Obama was initially misled [in 2013] into thinking that there was an attack by the Assad government.

“This confrontation with Russia has some potential to escalate and if it’s escalating over false intelligence claims, that is very serious.”

“We know that Obama was told, after he initially believed it was the Assad government, he was told that it was not necessarily the case. So he was initially given incorrect intelligence and then it was corrected, although the public was never told about this.”

This week Professor Postol released an addendum to his report, which was published in Washington’s Blog. “This addendum,” he wrote, “provides data that unambiguously shows that the assumption in the WHR [White House Report] that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct. This egregious error raises questions about every other claim in the WHR.”

The complete Postol report – a 10-page analysis with the four-page White House “intelligence” release attached as an appendix – can be read here. The addendum can be read here.

Postol and the press

As of Tuesday morning, April 18, 2017, the Postol report had, so far as I could tell, been covered by RT, Press TV, Sputnik News, Truthdig, Consortium News, Counterpunch, Global Research, IB Times-UK, Truthout, Mint Press News, Veterans Today, Southpoint.org, KPFA Flashpoints, the KPFA Weekend News, Washington’s Blog and a few other marginalized outlets.

I uploaded my KPFA Radio News report to the NewsUp! Section of Pacifica Radio’s Audioport, so that any of the 200 Pacifica affiliate stations could download and air it, but KKHI-Kansas City and KOWA-Olympia are the only ones to have done so yet. Democracy Now has interviewed Theodore Postol at least four times, but not yet with regard to this report and not since August 2014.

So we can safely say that Professor Postol’s response to the White House report has reached a tiny audience, and this report of mine is certainly not going to change that. Once again, the overwhelmingly dominant corporate media have manufactured consent and marginalized dissent, although we, the dissenters, have been allowed to exercise our freedom of speech, so to speak.

Congress and corporate media applauded Trump’s $100 million, 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missile response to the fabricated intelligence, although some Congress members insisted that the president should have come to them for an Authorization of the Use of Military Force in accordance with the War Powers Act of 1973, instead of relying on the 2001 Congressional resolution passed after 9/11, on Sept. 14, 2001, “to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the sole member of Congress to vote against the 2001 resolution, has demanded a Congressional Authorization of Military Force every time the U.S. has attacked a sovereign nation ever since. Lee speaks for Oakland, Berkeley and neighboring municipalities on the east side of San Francisco Bay, but that’s about the extent of the political will behind her.

In one of the few bright spots punctuating corporate media’s cheerleading, Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept noted, as a guest on CNN, that, “[CNN host] Fareed Zakaria would have sex with those missile strikes if he could.”

On Monday morning Robert Parry wrote in Consortium News, “Since Trump took those actions – in accordance with the neocon desires for more ‘regime change’ in the Middle East and a costly New Cold War with Russia – Russia-gate has almost vanished from the news.”

Robert Parry wrote in Consortium News, “Since Trump took those actions – in accordance with the neocon desires for more ‘regime change’ in the Middle East and a costly New Cold War with Russia – Russia-gate has almost vanished from the news.”

Now Trump can more fully relax during his weekends at Mar-a-Lago, where the Secret Service has already spent $35,000 to rent his golf carts. Chinese President Xi Jinping no doubt paid his and his security team’s bill at Mar-a-Lago as well, unless the U.S. taxpayer did. I just submitted a State Department press inquiry to determine which, but any response will be inconsequential so long as our military budget grows and our war with the world goes on.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.

 

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