In his article published on Sunday, December 8, by The London Review of Books, Seymour Hersh asked Whose sarin? was deployed in the August 21 CW attack in Syria. Even though the Obama administration stressed that they had incontrovertible, undeniable evidence that it was the Assad regime's sarin, intelligence gathered prior to the attack found that al-Nusra had access to sarin, too, and, as such should have also been considered suspects.
In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.In Elias Isquith's Salon article, Seymour Hersh: Obama administration nearly lied the U.S. into war with Syria, he reminds us of how the administration sought to make us believe that only Assad had access to sarin:
following the release of the UN report on 16 September confirming that sarin was used on 21 August, Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, told a press conference: ‘It’s very important to note that only the [Assad] regime possesses sarin, and we have no evidence that the opposition possesses sarin.’Hersh told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now that the US had formed a plan to remove CW from both Assad's forces and al-Nusra and that Obama and his administration ought to have read these intelligence reports, even though it may be possible that they did not.
The Obama administration claimed that they knew that the Syrian Army prepared for this attack by distributing gas masks, but the intel they used to base this statement was gleaned back in December. To use drills developed in December to pin the August 21 attack on Assad is highly misleading and certainly not "incontrovertible" evidence upon which to wage war.
The White House’s government assessment and Obama’s speech were not descriptions of the specific events leading up to the 21 August attack, but an account of the sequence the Syrian military would have followed for any chemical attack. ‘They put together a back story,’ the former official said, ‘and there are lots of different pieces and parts. The template they used was the template that goes back to December.’ It is possible, of course, that Obama was unaware that this account was obtained from an analysis of Syrian army protocol for conducting a gas attack, rather than from direct evidence. Either way he had come to a hasty judgment.
In Amy Goodman's interview with Sy Hersh on Democracy Now, he explains how his sources believed in their oath of office to uphold and defend the US Constitution and tell the truth, which is why his intelligence sources came forward and gave him information about the misleading propaganda used to hurry a war with Syria.
I encourage you to listen to Sy Hersh in this interview. The Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter who uncovered the Mai Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib speaks eloquently about his investigations. He told a story about how Turkey caught Al-Nusra in possession of more than 4 pounds of sarin gas to attack an American air base in Adina, but later claimed that they were only looking for the sarin, but didn't actually have it. He puts in context the complicated geo-politics of the region and the difficult spot an investigative reporter is in with regard to the MSM and spokespeople for the government agencies about which he uncovers inconvenient truths.
Actually, Amy, it’s really not my case; it’s the case of people in the administration who believe when they—when they take the oath, they take the oath of office to the Constitution and not to their immediate general or admiral or not to the—or not to the president even. It’s about truth. And there are an awful lot of people in the government who just were really very, very upset with the way the information about the gas attack took place. And that’s not to say that I have—I certainly don’t know who did what, but there’s no question my government does not. And there’s also no question that the American president that we now have—a guy I voted for, who has a lot of good things about him—was willing to go to war, wanted to throw missiles at Syria, without really having a case and knowing he didn’t have much of a case. And that, to me, is very troubling.In this climate of hunting down and punishing whistle blowers, Sy Hersh's sources were very brave to tell him about the weaknesses in the "back story" the Obama administration put together from "cherry picked" intel as the "incontrovertible" evidence to start a war with yet another country that poses no threat to our security.