High-Level U.S. Intelligence Officers: Syrian Government Didn’t Launch Chemical Weapons

Preface:   Without doubt, intelligence is being manipulated to justify war against Syria.  Here, here, here, here and here.

Without doubt, the Syrian rebels had access to chemical weapons … and have apparently used them in the recent past.

Associated Press reported last week:

An intercept of Syrian military officials discussing the strike was among low-level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack back to an Assad insider or even a senior Syrian commander, the officials said.

So while Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that links between the attack and the Assad government are “undeniable,” U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said.

***

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.

Reuters notes today:

With the United States threatening to attack Syria, U.S. and allied intelligence services are still trying to work out who ordered the poison gas attack on rebel-held neighborhoods near Damascus.

No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.

Indeed, numerous intelligence officers say that the rebels likely carried out the August 21st attack.

For example, the Daily Caller reports:

The Obama administration has selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria, former military officers with access to the original intelligence reports say, in a manner that goes far beyond what critics charged the Bush administration of doing in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.

According to these officers, who served in top positions in the United States, Britain, France, Israel, and Jordan, a Syrian military communication intercepted by Israel’s famed Unit 8200 electronic intelligence outfit has been doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion reached by the original report.

***

The doctored report was picked up on Israel’s Channel 2 TV  on Aug. 24, then by Focus magazine in Germany, the Times of Israel, and eventually by The Cable  in Washington, DC.

According to the doctored report, the chemical attack was carried out by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, an elite unit commanded by Maher al-Assad, the president’s brother.

However, the original communication intercepted by Unit 8200 between a major in command of the rocket troops assigned to the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division, and the general staff, shows just the opposite.

The general staff officer asked the major if he was responsible for the chemical weapons attack. From the tone of the conversation, it was clear that “the Syrian general staff were out of their minds with panic that an unauthorized strike had been launched by the 155th Brigade in express defiance of their instructions,” the former officers say.

According to the transcript of the original Unit 8200 report, the major “hotly denied firing any of his missiles” and invited the general staff to come and verify that all his weapons were present.

The report contains a note at the end that the major was interrogated by Syrian intelligence for three days, then returned to command of his unit. “All of his weapons were accounted for,” the report stated.

***

An Egyptian intelligence report describes a meeting in Turkey between military intelligence officials from Turkey and Qatar and Syrian rebels. One of the participants states, “there will be a game changing event on August 21st” that will “bring the U.S. into a bombing campaign” against the Syrian regime.

The chemical weapons strike on Moudhamiya, an area under rebel control, took place on August 21. “Egyptian military intelligence insists it was a combined Turkish/Qatar/rebel  false flag operation,” said a source familiar with the report.

[A “false flag” is a ploy for starting war which has been used by governments around the world for thousands of years.]

Agents provacateurs are as old as warfare itself. What better than a false flag attack, staged by al Qaeda and its al Nusra front allies in Syria, to drag the United States into a war?

And 12 very high-level former intelligence officials wrote the following memorandum to Obama today:

We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”

***

There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.

According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.

We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.

In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.

Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.

At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government

The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence officers.

12 U.S. Intelligence Officials Tell Obama It Wasn’t Assad

Cross-Posted from WarIsACrime.org ; originally posted at Consortiumnews.com

By Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials

Editor Note: Despite the Obama administration’s supposedly “high confidence” regarding Syrian government guilt over the Aug. 21 chemical attack near Damascus, a dozen former U.S. military and intelligence officials are telling President Obama that they are picking up information that undercuts the Official Story.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?

Precedence: IMMEDIATE

We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”

We have been down this road before – with President George W. Bush, to whom we addressed our first VIPS memorandum immediately after Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. speech, in which he peddled fraudulent “intelligence” to support attacking Iraq. Then, also, we chose to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt, thinking he was being misled – or, at the least, very poorly advised.

Secretary of State John Kerry departs for a Sept. 6 trip to Europe where he plans to meet with officials to discuss the Syrian crisis and other issues. (State Department photo)

The fraudulent nature of Powell’s speech was a no-brainer. And so, that very afternoon we strongly urged your predecessor to “widen the discussion beyond …  the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.” We offer you the same advice today.

Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you.

We have observed John Brennan closely over recent years and, sadly, we find what our former colleagues are now telling us easy to believe. Sadder still, this goes in spades for those of us who have worked with him personally; we give him zero credence. And that goes, as well, for his titular boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has admitted he gave “clearly erroneous” sworn testimony to Congress denying NSA eavesdropping on Americans.

Intelligence Summary or Political Ploy?

That Secretary of State John Kerry would invoke Clapper’s name this week in Congressional testimony, in an apparent attempt to enhance the credibility of the four-page “Government Assessment” strikes us as odd. The more so, since it was, for some unexplained reason, not Clapper but the White House that released the “assessment.”

This is not a fine point. We know how these things are done. Although the “Government Assessment” is being sold to the media as an “intelligence summary,” it is a political, not an intelligence document. The drafters, massagers, and fixers avoided presenting essential detail. Moreover, they conceded upfront that, though they pinned “high confidence” on the assessment, it still fell “short of confirmation.”

Déjà Fraud: This brings a flashback to the famous Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002, on Iraq, The minutes record the Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence, reporting to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior officials that President Bush had decided to remove Saddam Hussein through military action that would be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” Dearlove had gotten the word from then-CIA Director George Tenet whom he visited at CIA headquarters on July 20.

The discussion that followed centered on the ephemeral nature of the evidence, prompting Dearlove to explain: “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” We are concerned that this is precisely what has happened with the “intelligence” on Syria.

The Intelligence

There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.

According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.

We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.

In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.

Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.

At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government

The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence officers.

Cui bono?

That the various groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have ample incentive to get the U.S. more deeply involved in support of that effort is clear. Until now, it has not been quite as clear that the Netanyahu government in Israel has equally powerful incentive to get Washington more deeply engaged in yet another war in the area. But with outspoken urging coming from Israel and those Americans who lobby for Israeli interests, this priority Israeli objective is becoming crystal clear.

Reporter Judi Rudoren, writing from Jerusalem in an important article in Friday’s New York Times addresses Israeli motivation in an uncommonly candid way. Her article, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” notes that the Israelis have argued, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome. Rudoren continues:

“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.

“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”

We think this is the way Israel’s current leaders look at the situation in Syria, and that deeper U.S. involvement – albeit, initially, by “limited” military strikes – is likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict in Syria. The longer Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats in Syria and in the wider region, the safer Israel calculates that it is.

That Syria’s main ally is Iran, with whom it has a mutual defense treaty, also plays a role in Israeli calculations. Iran’s leaders are not likely to be able to have much military impact in Syria, and Israel can highlight that as an embarrassment for Tehran.

Iran’s Role

Iran can readily be blamed by association and charged with all manner of provocation, real and imagined. Some have seen Israel’s hand in the provenance of the most damaging charges against Assad regarding chemical weapons and our experience suggests to us that such is supremely possible.

Possible also is a false-flag attack by an interested party resulting in the sinking or damaging, say, of one of the five U.S. destroyers now on patrol just west of Syria. Our mainstream media could be counted on to milk that for all it’s worth, and you would find yourself under still more pressure to widen U.S. military involvement in Syria – and perhaps beyond, against Iran.

Iran has joined those who blame the Syrian rebels for the August 21 chemical incident, and has been quick to warn the U.S. not to get more deeply involved. According to the Iranian English-channel Press TV, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif has claimed: “The Syria crisis is a trap set by Zionist pressure groups for [the United States].”

Actually, he may be not far off the mark. But we think your advisers may be chary of entertaining this notion. Thus, we see as our continuing responsibility to try to get word to you so as to ensure that you and other decision makers are given the full picture.

Inevitable Retaliation

We hope your advisers have warned you that retaliation for attacks on Syrian are not a matter of IF, but rather WHERE and WHEN. Retaliation is inevitable. For example, terrorist strikes on U.S. embassies and other installations are likely to make what happened to the U.S. “Mission” in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, look like a minor dust-up by comparison. One of us addressed this key consideration directly a week ago in an article titled “Possible Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria – Remembering the U.S. Marine Barracks Destruction in Beirut, 1983.”

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Thomas Drake, Senior Executive, NSA (former)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan

Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

W. Patrick Lang, Senior Executive and Defense Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)

Todd Pierce, US Army Judge Advocate General (ret.)

Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army, Iraq

Coleen Rowley, Division Council & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)

Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

8 Responses to “Numerous Intelligence Officials Question US Claims on Syria”

  1. dhuvarren says:

    I have left as many comments as possible on my French home sites to express my feeling that there is too great a coincidence between the moment the ships were sent by Mr Obama and the moment it was decided that there was only one solution, “limited attacks”, How little perception, or oh how great the desire for military self-gratification!

  2. ilsm says:

    Careers inside the Beltway are made on cooking the “books”.

    There is no career interfering in a civil war. The UN can authorize acts to enforce a treaty. The US has no business in a League of Nations ‘mandate’ given to France so they could play in the Levant after World War I.

    “Limited attack” is not a strategic object. However, when the operation collapses the “books” will be cooked to excuse the extravagant but pointless US concept of war.

  3. dougc says:

    The successful career path for government employees is to determine what your boss wants to hear and then supply it to him and to silence any dissent. The CIA could just as easily find that the rebels used the chemical weapons.
    Not only did we not condemn Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran, we aided them by supplying Iraq with Iranian troop locations and weather information such as wind direction to optimize their effectiveness. We also prevented the UN from passing a resolution condemning the gassing the Kurds. In addition we used Nuclear weapons against civilians in WWII.
    The administration also has a problem with being caught lying about NSA activities and now we are suppose to believe “secret” reports. It would be advisable to release the information, so it can be debated, perhaps in the UN. If it is reliable, it will increase the public support for action.

  4. denim says:

    Foreign policy coup by Executive Branch insider war hawks:
    General Wesley Clark – America’s Foreign Policy “Coup”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53jbRxHSfj4

    Gen. Wesley Clark, Democracy Now! interview, 2007
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSL3JqorkdU

    http://www.stopiranwar.com/

    How is it so easy to fool President Bush then and now, President Obama?

  5. noone says:

    Thank you for posting this! I sent an email to my Congress-persons last week, then later saw the VIPS open letter a day or so ago reinforcing my reservations, so I’ll sent follow-up emails tomorrow. Looks like deja-vu “WMD”. Unfortunately my Congress-persons are Feinstein, Boxer, and Eshoo (3 Democrats), so I feel like I’m spitting in the wind. Maybe other folks have more open-minded representatives.

  6. FrViper says:

    If it isn’t Assad, why wouldn’t he conduct an investigation and release the information? Likewise, if the Whitehouse was not involved in the Benghazi affair, why not have an investigation and release the information to Congress? Both situations have ‘dirty hands’!

  7. Greg0658 says:

    decided I’d have dirty hands if I clicked back without tinker’g

    false flags to produce diasaster capitalism results abound .. that’s why I’m so in favor of a new OpSys – Labor Centric NOT capital centric – a utopia socialism concept .. that at 55yo I know I’ll never see .. but idle good hands and evil hands abound

    I wonder when capital will realize that conditions are at the tipping point – but what can capital do – but wait for the opsys real demand to surface thru the fav’d disaster scenario .. goes to the population post I took issue with – a commodity in excess has less value – we are there again

    do we need more beaver dams built with the resulting starvation along with wastelands ripe for the picking – for that precious growth before capitalists feel comfortable that winning future growth is now probable and time to break that dam now

    the New OpSys isn’t coming from these 2 hands – but from 14B (give or take the current b/d ratio & a few hardship loses)

  8. Low Budget Dave says:

    I disagree with the assertion that this is “a manner that goes far beyond what critics charged the Bush administration of doing ”

    In Syria, we have several reliable sources of information that are pointing in different directions. In Iraq, we had no reliable information pointing toward chemical weapons. Picking and choosing which information to believe is entirely different from changing the facts to fit the policy.

    In fact, almost all intelligence is an exercise is picking and choosing among conflicting sources. Just as the rebels could have falsified government involvement in a chemical weapons attack, Syria’s government might have fabricated a “false flag” operation.

    I don’t find either side particularly trustworthy.