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The Syrian Sarin Gas Scam: The Threatened US Missile Attack On Syria Was Based On Evidence Known To Be Flimsy - And Most of the Media Failed Us Again

Seymour Hersh
Seymour Hersh appearing on DemocracyNow, December 9,
2013. (Screen Capture)
This week, famed investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, disseminated an article on the August sarin gas attack in Syria. He was forced to publish the article in a relatively obscure publication, the London Review of Books, because the Washington Post refused to publish it. In the article, Hersh claimed his sources within the military and the Obama Administration had serious doubts about the role of the Syrian government in the Sarin attack, but that the Obama Administration "cherry picked" the "evidence" it presented to the world in order to justify a missile attack on Syria. Hersh was not the first one to raise a questions about the Obama Administration's evidence of the Syrian government's involvement in the gas attack.  During the peak of the crisis journalist Robert Fisk raised questions, citing sources within the United Nations.  Unlike Hersh, however, Fisk didn't wait until everything 'blew over' before he went public with the misgivings of establishment insiders.
By Ronald David Jackson
Hersh is now making the same argument that other, more courageous souls made back in early September: that the "evidence" for a Syrian government role in the attack was so shoddy that the US government took the planned missile attack to Congress for approval (Congress balked) because it got cold feet about attacking a government on such flimsy evidence. The Obama Administration was hoping to make Congress an accessory to the crime just in case their "evidence" was later proven to be fraudulent. They wanted to be able to say that "Congress saw our evidence, accepted it, and approved the attack on Syria. So don't blame us." Hersh also suggested that the Obama Administration was relieved when Russia suggested a US attack on Syria could be avoided if Syria would agree to give up its chemical weapons. Perhaps one of the things that frightened the Obama Administration was the fact that former US intelligence professionals were raising questions about the supposed Syrian government sarin attack and were publicly demanding answers.

Poision gas operations - Syrian Rebels
Rebel Videos: Top - field testing gas on rabbit;
Middle - rebels shown wearing gas masks; Bottom
- lab testing gas on rabbits. These videos were widely
available but most mainstream and progressive
media outlets did not inform the public about them
during the run-up to the threatened US missile
attack on Syria. (Screen captures from rebel videos)
But the Hersh story revealed something far more profound: American journalism, whether we are talking about the mainstream corporate media and much of the so-called "independent" progressive press, remains absolutely unreliable in times of crisis.  It is thoroughly intimidated by power and is paralyzed by the fear of the label "conspiracy theorist." For the most part, America's vaunted "free press" remained silent, even though there was plenty of evidence suggesting that some of the "rebel" factions fighting against the Syrian government were fully capable of launching the sarin gas attack and had plenty of motive to do so. During an interview on Democracy Now, Hersh mentioned a report that the Turkish government had even caught al-Qaeda elements in Turkey with sarin, but that he couldn't confirm the story because aspects of the Turkish government got cold feet and decided to cover the incident up.

RELATED STORY: Syrian Government Sarin Gas Attack Scenario Impossible - Suggests New Study By MIT Professor & Former UN Weapons Inspector: Rockets Used Couldn't Travel Required Distance

The vast majority of the journalists working in mainstream and progressive media ignored the evidence of possible rebel involvement and refused to publish any of it, preferring instead to stand mum as the Obama Administration geared up for war while selling the world a bullshit narrative about Syria's use of weapons of mass destruction. In other words, America's "free press" repeated the very same mistake it made during the run up to America's war on Iraq, a war we now know was based on evidence that was completely and deliberately fabricated.

In fact, were it not for Russia and its proposal to have Syria destroy its stock of chemical weapons, there likely would have been an unjustified US missile attack on Syria. Even Seymour Hersh's exposé would have been "too little, too late" because it would have been published long after the US missile attack - were it not for the Russians.

Children: Poision gas victims in Syria - 'Staged Managed' Video
Above: Damning evidence that the aftermath video of the August sarin gas attack (which was blamed on the
Syrian government) was "staged managed" by the rebels. Video the rebels alleged was taken at various "gas
attack sites" showed the same children. When mainstream and progressive media keeps such evidence from
readers and viewers it becomes complicit in government propaganda. (Screen captures from rebel videos)

It is time for journalists, both mainstream and progressive, to begin to face up to a very real possibility which Hersh himself is still too nervous to fully articulate: That the August sarin gas attack on civilians in Syria was likely a "false flag" attack launched by a rebel faction (or a "third force") to draw the United States into a missile attack on the Syrian government, and that factions within the Obama Administration were fully cognizant of the real possibility of a false flag attack but remained silent as they grumbled privately to journalists like Seymour Hersh, who kept the lid on this reality until the threat of missile attack had passed and until long after the controversy had died down. 

Women and children: kidnapped by Syria's rebels
Kidnap Victims: Rebels proudly aired videos
of the women and children they kidnapped for
later use as hostages and bargaining chips. Are
these some of the victims who later appeared
in the gas aftermath videos provided to the world
by the rebels? The corporate media and most
progressive media outlets were/are afraid to even
ask. (Screen captures from rebel video)

After the August sarin attack, the world had to rely on a nun, Syrian peace activist Mother Agnes Mariam and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS), for an authentic investigation into the attack which she provided to the UN. The report was almost completely ignored by the UN and most journalists.

Mother Mariam was one of the first to suggest the "victims" depicted in the sarin attack aftermath videos could be people who were taken prisoner on the battlefield by specific rebel factions or were women and children who were kidnapped in the weeks leading up to the sarin attack. Only a handful of truly progressive journalists and websites bothered to relay this very important information to their readers (you can download and read the full report from here).

Kevin Drum's Establishment Narrative
Not only did many so-called "progressive" journalists (and the news outlets they write for and/or manage) refuse to provide any information that contradicted the Obama Administration's "the-Syrian-government-did-it" narrative, some were audacious enough to attack anyone who raised any questions about the American government's gas attack scenario. In an article titled, "Yep, the Ghouta Gas Attacks Were Carried Out By the Assad Regime," MotherJones writer, Kevin Drum, seemed to mock those who questioned the accepted mainstream narrative of "the Syrian government did it."

Citing the UN report on the sarin gas attack (which Drum admits "doesn't try to affix blame for the attack"), Drum nevertheless strangely concludes: "the facts it provides make it vanishingly unlikely that it was launched by anyone other than the Assad regime."  Drum concludes his article by lumping anyone who questions the "accepted" storyline into the "Rush-Limbaugh-conspiracy-theorist" category: "...there's really no longer any case to be made that this was some kind of false-flag rebel operation. It was a chemical weapons attack mounted by the Assad government. Sorry, Rush." In this instance Drum adopts Rachel Maddow's Mocking Bird school of journalism, where Maddow calls anyone who questions US government propaganda a wild eyed "conspiracy theorist" and then lumps them together with militias, the far-right, Alex Jones, Matt Drudge, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh. This "trust what government says after a terror attack or you're a conspiracy theorist" meme has become the standard line of attack of "wannabe" progressive journalists who secretly want to work for CNN or the New York Times and hence have to periodically attack independent investigators to prove they can be "trusted" by their future corporate media employers.

Drum provides this photograph from the UN report as convincing evidence the Syrian government had to be responsible for the sarin gas attack:

Missile components
Kevin Drum of MotherJones published these photos provided by the UN as evidence
that only the Syrian government was capable of launching a sarin gas attack. The fact
that the UN couldn't actually verify where these "gas missile" parts actually came from
seems to have been conveniently overlooked by Drum.

Drum's UN "evidence" is all well and good, if you decide to completely ignore these photographs (screen captured from a rebel video) of rebels preparing what appear to be gas canisters for launch:

Rebel's in Syria load canisters onto rocket launcher
Screen captures from rebel video: I was not there, so I can't verify exactly
what the rebels had inside of these canisters, but neither can Kevin Drum
or the UN.Yet one would think the issue would be worth investigating or
at least mentioning.

The real question to be posed to American "progressive" journalists is this: shouldn't "progressives" like Kevin Drum be questioning virtually everything any US administration says when it is providing excuses for attacking yet another country, especially in the light of all the proven lies American citizens were subjected to in the run up to the Iraq invasion? Moreover, why do people like Kevin Drum feel they need to "run interference" for the power elites, especially in situations that could cost the lives of Americans and the lives of those who America attacks? The apparent fact that journalists like Kevin Drum can't be relied upon to stand up in a real crisis, but instead can be relied upon to fall in line might explain why US war mongers have no qualms about spewing nonsense whenever they want to attack a country without real cause.

Mother Agnes Mariam, Jeremy Scahill, and George Gallaway
From Top: Mother Agnes Mariam, Jeremy
Scahill and British Member of Parliament
George Gallaway. Scahill boycotted a panel
discussion which included Mother Mariam.
When Gallaway heard she was in town, he did
the right thing: he interviewed her. (Screen
captures from video)
Jeremy Scahill 'Boycotts' Mother Mariam
Stranger still is the behavior of award-wining investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. Scahill is the author of the bestselling book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, the National Security Correspondent for The Nation magazine, and a driving force behind the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Dirty Wars. Scahill also makes frequent appearances on the Internet news program Democracy Now, where he got his start in journalism.

Scahill was slated to be on a panel at a Stop the War conference (in London, November 30th) with none other than Mother Agnes Mariam, the Syrian peace activist who helped develop the report that raised serious questions about the veracity of the sarin attack-aftermath videos provided by Syria's rebels. But Scahill (along with British "leftist" journalist Owen Jones) pulled out of the panel because Mother Mariam was slated to be a participant, they said. Mother Mariam cancelled her participation in the conference when she heard of the controversy.

Scahill's film Dirty Wars has been lambasted as a "self-indulgent" ego trip that was short on historical context and long on sensationalism, a criticism I took with a grain of salt at the time. But Scahill's refusal to be on the same panel with Mother Mariam raised real questions for me. It smacked of gate-keeping, or even worse, rank opportunism. It's been reported that pressure to boycott Mother Mariam grew out of a Syria-based smear campaign that labeled her a tool of the Syrian government. But if this was the case, why didn't Scahill (who has been a victim of attempted gagging and gate keeping himself) make a point of interviewing Mother Mariam to help throw some light on the issue? After all, he is an investigative journalist, isn't he? Was Scahill afraid he'd sully his chances for an Academy Award for Dirty Wars if he was seen hobnobbing with the highly disruptive Mother Mariam?

Four Topics for the 'Big Three'
The boycott incident at the London Stop the War conference makes me wonder about the new journalistic media venture of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill. This well-publicized venture is being financed by billionaire EBay founder Pierre Omidya.

We are told by Scahill that this new journalistic venture will be a "serious investigative journalism site" that will speak truth to power and energize a whole new era of investigative journalism. But can it, will it? Will turning Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill into media moguls empower investigative journalism? Or will it muzzle Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill by rendering them "too scared to fail?" Scahill's boycott of Mother Mariam, the woman who helped blow the lid off of the "Syria-did-the-sarin-attack" narrative, is not a good omen.

Prisoners of Syria's rebels: apparently appear as civilians as victims of gas attack
Rebel Prisoners: Recorded and placed on public display in rebel
videos. After the "Syrian government sarin gas attack" they
apparently show up in rebel videos as innocent civilians who are
victims of the sarin gas attack. (Screen captures from rebel videos)

I'm not sure I believe in the utility of litmus tests. Such tests can straightjacket you and force you into seeing the world as either black or white. On the other hand, sometimes the response (or lack of same) to a simple topic can go a long way towards predicting someone's behavior in a real crisis. So here are four topics that Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill can respond to if they want to prove their new venture in "progressive" journalism will be any different than most of the other "progressive" news sites we have to choose from nowadays: what does Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill have to say about 1) The assassinations of JFK, MLK and RFK; 2) The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing; 3) The Oklahoma City Bombing, and 4) The 9/11 terror attacks.  I think their response (or lack of a response) to these four topics will tell us everything we want to know.

Rebel Video: Field Testing Gas Weapon - Later Shown in Gas Masks
Rebels proudly posted this video on the Internet and mainstream media conveniently ignored it
after the August sarin gas attack that we are told was done by the Syrian government.

This Video Was Posted Anonymously After Questions Were Raised About the Authenticity of the Post-Sarin Attack Videos Provided by the Rebels
It Appears Someone Panicked: Clearly whoever posted this video wanted to make sure the Rebels
got the blame for the gas attack.
Perhaps they believed a 'third force' (not rebels nor the
Syrian government) was about to be identified and blamed -
They needn't have
worried - The US had already decided to blame the Syrian government.

 Global Research TV Was One of the Few Internet News Sources to Systematically and Categorically Challenge the US Narrative on the Sarin Gas Attack and Interview
Mother Agnes Mariam

Seymour Hersh On Democracy Now:
"Obama 'Cherry-Picked' Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike

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Special Thanks to Mother Agnes Mariam, The Centre for Research on Globalization, Consortium News, Corbett Report, Information Clearance House, The Independent, and the few other news sources that raised serious questions about the Obama Administration's narrative on the sarin gas attack in Syria.

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