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          Between missing airliners and Crimean War Redux, an important story is slipping through the cracks. Seymour Hersh has an article out in the London Review of Books which alleges the United States was less than two days away from unleashing a massive attack on Syria on the basis of a deliberate misinformation campaign, a false flag operation. It ties together Libya, arms smuggling, Syria, corruption, Iran, jihadists, the CIA, and a key U.S. ally. It also involves some painful blowback.

        A quick search of Kos for Syria and Hersh only turned up three diaries that mentioned it: this one by Clever Handle had the most on it, while this one and this touched on it only in passing. There's as yet little mention of it in the mainstream media that I can find; the only reason I got interested was after Digby put a link to it at the end of this post commenting on the recognition of Glen Greenwald and Alan Rusbridger for their outstanding journalism in covering the revelations of Edward Snowden.

       What Hersh spells out demonstrates more clearly than ever that a government that habitually operates in secret is a government inviting disaster. Important questions don't get asked. Accountability does not happen. Blunders become compounded by cover ups. This time, we got lucky and the right decisions were ultimately made - but there are still consequences from how we got to where we are now. Follow me past the Orange Omnilepticon for more.

         There's no excuse not to read Hersh's entire piece, and read it several times. The assertions Hersh makes, and the implications that follow from them are disturbing for many reasons. Official spokesmen and the agencies involved are either denying, not commenting, or disputing what Hersh lays out - but given the stakes involved, that's not a surprise. What Hersh reveals makes sense of a lot of things that did not before.

        Back in August of 2012, President Barack Obama was preparing to launch punitive attacks on Assad's forces in Syria, in response to crossing a Red Line over the use of Sarin nerve gas against Syrian rebel forces. At the last minute, the President chose to ask Congress for approval for the strikes. Congress balked; and then sarcastic remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry suddenly became a serious proposal and a deal was struck to remove chemical weapons stores from Syria. What happened? According to Hersh, serious preparations for war were well underway.

In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.

       What happened to halt this was the case for action unraveled. Tests of samples taken from the areas where attacks with Sarin had taken place did find evidence of the nerve agent in at least one of them - but analysis (by England's Porton Down) indicated it did not match up with any of the known stocks Assad possessed. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had been reluctant to proceed on the basis of what evidence the administration had had up to this point; the test results meant that an attack on Assad could not be justified and would prove to be a huge blunder. In effect, Obama's pivot to asking for Congressional approval provided a plausible excuse for delaying action - and then negotiations over chemical weapons suddenly bore fruit.

       Hersh's work suggests there were two factors at work driving the agenda for an attack. One was frustration that the Syrian rebels weren't doing better against the regime - because the Administration had made a huge bet on them, in secret. Hersh again:

The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)
emphasis added

        The second factor arose from this rat line, developed to transfer Libyan arms and ammo to Syria through Turkey. A whole clandestine network of contractors, financial support, and smuggling arrangements grew up, involving Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the CIA, MI6, Australians, and eventually jihadists among the rebels at the other end of the supply line. (Not to mention gold transfers to Iran!!!) David Petraeus at the CIA ran the operation, according to Hersh - until he was forced to resign over marital infidelities.

       The main reason there was a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, in Hersh's account, was to provide cover for these arms shipment arrangements. After the attack on the consulate, the U.S. pulled out of the operation - but the rat line continued to operate and the U.S. lost control over what went through it. And that's when it gets really interesting.

        The rat line had become a source of huge profits for all of the middlemen along the way, fostering corruption and worse. The U.S. withdrawal left the Prime Minister of Turkey in a bit of a bind. Again, according to Hersh:

...‘One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘It can’t come through Jordan because the terrain in the south is wide open and the Syrians are all over it. And it can’t come through the valleys and hills of Lebanon – you can’t be sure who you’d meet on the other side.’ Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdoğan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him – where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’
emphasis added

      It should be noted Turkey has had a long and painful history involving Kurds; the last thing they would want is another disaffected group. To make a long story short, the upshot is it appears Turkey worked with jihadi groups among the Syrian rebels to develop their own capacity to make Sarin - and used it in an attempt to do so in a way that would look like Assad's forces were to blame. The U.S. would destroy Assad, Turkey would have expanded its political influence in Syria, and everybody would be happy.

      In actual practice, the results are somewhat different. The Syrian situation has stalemated, with Assad apparently holding on and regaining ever more control over the country. Syria still needs massive amounts of humanitarian aid and the number of Syrian refugees continues to grow. Hersh concludes with this:

Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. ‘I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdoğan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The answer was: “We’re screwed.” We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They’re a Nato ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: “We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.”’
    The wider picture is even bleaker, in light of what Hersh has spelled out. The U.S. is facing serious blowback in several ways.
• That Turkey, a NATO ally, is so compromised by this seriously weakens the alliance at a time when Russia and the Ukraine are in flux. We can not publicly confess what we were doing with Turkey, nor confront them.
• A number of weapons of disturbing types are now in the hands of people who do not have any great love for the U.S. or our allies. And Turkey's willingness to bring chemical weapons into the mix is disturbing all by itself.
• It further weakens U.S. dealings with Putin, who full well knows that it's not just U.S. hypocrisy about the Ukraine in light of what the U.S. did in Iraq. It's that the U.S. also deliberately set about weakening another client of Russia in ways that contravene U.S. laws and our own public positions. We have negative moral standing to confront Russia, whatever the specific merits of the case. Putin was ridiculed for some of the charges he made about U.S. actions in the Ukraine. In light of what Hersh has uncovered, Putin may be, to put a fine point on it, less paranoid or delusional than he's been portrayed.
• There's been some puzzlement over why President Obama has seemed so averse to reining in abuses by the intelligence community. This goes a long way towards explaining it - and actions by previous presidents as well. The temptation to use clandestine, extra- and ill- legal means to accomplish policy goals is irresistible it seems. But it can quickly become a bargain with the Devil. At best the President is an enabler; at worst a co-conspirator, vulnerable to manipulation and blackmail by the agency that is supposed to serve him. (We really, really need to be grateful to Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley. Talk about blowback!)
• Every false position we take and get caught out in limits our ability as a nation to act. Every bit of misinformation we ourselves generate limits our ability to make the right decisions and our credibility. It's attempting to build on sand, never a good idea when the tides of history are rising.

       Against all of this, it's important not to lose sight of other pieces of the puzzle. Assad's regime was and is brutal; the civil war in Syria is destabilizing the region. Some kind of resolution is desirable. Ideally we'd like to see Assad gone, but we really have no way of ensuring the 'right' people take power. Supplying aid to rebels in the hopes of eventual gratitude (and client state status) is an old trick, and not one used by the U.S. alone.  

       While the U.S. was taking a lead role in this, it was not a unilateral one. We were not the only country investing in toppling Assad. Europe has their own concerns about what happens in the region, some of them admirable, some of them less so. Given that the Arab Spring looked like it was and is going to trigger widespread changes in the region, the national interests of the U.S. and our allies provide an understandable and not unreasonable impetus for some kind of involvement intended to move things in a direction that aligns with our interests.

      There's also the very real consideration that the U.S. political system is largely incapable of rational action if it involves the U.S. Congress in any way. The Republican party has rendered the institution into a parody of talk radio, as a platform for spouting ideological blather rather than as a body with serious constitutional responsibilities. They have lost the ability to rise above partisanship when the national interest calls for it; they are obsessed with regime change at home and their radical agenda above all other things. The record of their actions when they have had the power to engage in clandestine operations does not inspire anything like confidence.

        We do not live in an ideal world. There's no higher authority we can call when nations descend into civil strife. (The world does not have the equivalent of social services or the police to respond to the equivalent of domestic violence.) Acting openly in Syria to end the violence does not appear to be an option, if only because a direct intervention would call for resources (troops, aid, financial) in amounts that no one is willing to make available, or can figure out how to apply effectively. Clandestine efforts looked like a high risk but low cost strategy, with potential for high reward - and it didn't look that way to just the U.S. alone. The word for this kind of action is realpolitik. It's the kind of thing Kipling romanticized as the Great Game.

       The problem with realpolitik is that it is not always pretty, is vulnerable to random events and unanticipated consequences, and it calls for compromises on ideals that can prove to be a bigger problem down the road than the one that seemingly justified that compromise. It's also tempting because it's easier on the surface to ignore the niceties in a situation to get some immediate gain and worry about the consequences later. Sometimes realpoltik is the only option, but its bad reputation is not entirely undeserved.

      And, there's one more thing to remember. The attack didn't happen. In this case the system worked to get the critical information to the decision makers in time to avoid another unjustified and illegitimate war. Warning flags were not ignored, and the rush to obtain a desirable end - the downfall of Assad - was not allowed to overwhelm good sense. In  that regard, the Obama administration stands in marked contrast to its predecessors.

      "It could have been worse" is small comfort, but nonetheless too often true. The U.S. and the Obama administration is left in an uncomfortable (to say the least!) position by these revelations. One wonders if the Republicans are going to seize on the Benghazi connection to try to exploit it even further, not to mention the jihadi groups and involvement with Iran. One also wonders in light of these revelations if the President and the Congress will realize how dangerous our intelligence agencies have become, and how their misuse is subverting our democracy. (One can dream at least.)

     It is often said the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. That's too often taken as advice to distrust good intentions as a reason for action, instead of what it's really about - don't let the idea that you mean well blind you to the road you're going down. Pay attention! Mistakes have been made, but for a lot of reasons (good and bad), dealing with them publicly is problematic. If we learn anything from them, that will go some way towards gaining value from the terrible price we paid for them - and that's not entirely inconsequential.

      Read Hersh's article. It's a demonstration of why a free press that does its job is so important to democracy. We really need to know what's being done in our name.

UPDATE: One other point I forgot to include while writing this up. There's a lot of trash-talking about Crimea, the Ukraine, and Russia. Before we go leaping into action there, providing aid, and picking sides, having the real picture of what did - and didn't - happen in Syria would seem to be especially relevant.


Hersh on Red Lines and Rat Lines:

4%3 votes
12%9 votes
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23%17 votes
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (40+ / 0-)

    Clandestine operations are fun to read about as fiction, not so entertaining in real life. One classic tale of a covert operation gone wrong is from the Horatio Hornblower saga. The tale is The Happy Return, AKA Beat to Quarters.

    A high-risk but high-reward operation for a modest investment of resources, a highly capable officer operating independently thousands of miles from oversight with a mission with geopolitical consequences - what could go wrong?

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 08:47:49 AM PDT

    •  Isn't this the lesson Obama said... (13+ / 0-)

      we would learn after the Bush/Cheney debacle?

      What Hersh spells out demonstrates more clearly than ever that a government that habitually operates in secret is a government inviting disaster. Important questions don't get asked. Accountability does not happen. Blunders become compounded by cover ups. This time, we got lucky and the right decisions were ultimately made - but there are still consequences from how we got to where we are now. Follow me past the Orange Omnilepticon for more.
      The U.S. government is an turnkey operation with an ongoing, hidden agenda that works by the use of coercion, graft and secrecy..

      "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." - 17th-century French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu.

      by markthshark on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:32:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your diary, but (11+ / 0-)

    certainly you know that mentioning Seymour Hersh on this site is little better than mentioning, say, Redstate or Stormfront or Ted Rall.  

    But I for one am grateful for your diary. :-)

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:05:21 AM PDT

  •  Which is why someone should release (5+ / 0-)

    the new Navy tech to turn seawater to fuel. Overnight the economies of the Arab nations will collapse and they will have no power anymore.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:19:23 AM PDT

  •  Here's another take on it: (8+ / 0-)

    from somebody named Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque ☛ False Flags and Imperial Facades ...

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:27:08 AM PDT

  •  So, without US engagement (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova, allie4fairness, mkor7

    The Syrian civil war would not have happened?    And millions of Syrians wouldn't be refugees, and millions of Syrian Children scarred by 4 years of civil war, and billions of dollars of infrastructure destroyed?
    For what?  This bloody stalemate?

    •  Um, no. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WattleBreakfast, KenBee

      The Syrian civil war started without any need for intervention on our part. And the consequences today you describe are one reason why we and others were looking for some way to act.

      That action proved to be ineffective. It's one reason there is a stalemate, because of those arms shipments. Without them, would it have escalated so much? Impossible to say - but it would hardly have been a bloodless conflict without them.

      There's plenty of blame to go around. What's still lacking is a resolution of some kind.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:47:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no, the more succinct question might be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        if our intel agencies had stayed hands off would this have gone forward (likely imo) and would it have been better or worse?

        Part of the challenge for intel is basic knowledge, it's much easier to be on the inside than outside trying to see in.

        The other thing about that is that US and EU and any intel agencies would certainly want and really need to know the players and their, the price of admission to that is what I think might be Hersh detailing here,

        The complications of Turkey's proximity and involvement are pretty serious and can't be great in the long run.

         My uninformed ignorant opinions about intel and a new wouldn't take long for a new president to be involved in things that would be useful to one's political enemies..any intel agency would be quick to either make that happen or make sure to leverage it for any degree of control with blackmail over a new president and ensnare him in the agency insider's long range plans.
          Thankfully we had PBO instead of, who was it...McCain? geez...happy dance here.

        What about gold to Iran?...

        wingnuts concentrating on trying to make hay about Benghazi have missed the boat, this mess is so easy to use to lob shitballs with...

        Good diary, thanks for it.

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 04:37:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  All of this is just more of the (0+ / 0-)

        same ol' same ol'.  The way the U.S. of A., Britain and virtually all First Worlders have been conducting business since at least WWII.  Schpy vs. Schpy and all that.  In the end Obama and the White House came out of it smelling like a rose.  The RW Noise Machine will try and color it differently, questioning Obama's presidential bonafides, but at the end of the day no harm no foul.  At least for the president and the White House.

        Follow Connect! Unite! Act! MeetUp events! For live podcasting of your Event contact winkk to schedule.

        by winkk on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:17:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  But Obama had a slow hand (7+ / 0-)

    It's messy and ugly. We are being pushed by so many forces it's like 3 D chess. To some extent, it's a result of very bad choices for 100 years.

    But we didn't go to war. Obama stalled. He is sometimes jockied around by the endless war crowd, but I'm grateful he acts slowly.

  •  I don't believe for a minute that Obama and Kerry (11+ / 0-)

    got suckered.  They tried to lie their way into war.  It was set up over a year earlier with Obama's red line.  They knew what they were doing with that and had to use it.  It didn't work, they knew they'd get caught. So they played the Congressional/U.N. approval game to bail out.  So now it's falling on Edrogan and Turkey.
    Ideally, I liked the Syria people to decide what they want, not "we" decide.  Whether it's Assad or not is up to them, not the crazy Americans.

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:47:40 AM PDT

    •  Did you read Hersh's article? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InAntalya, DAISHI, BigAlinWashSt

      Because your assertion that Turkey is being used for a scapegoat does not square with it.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:59:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, read it when it came out. I'm not saying (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        native, WattleBreakfast

        Hersh is wrong.  He's going with an anonymous source so we can't be sure.  So I'm not saying Turkey is being used as a scapegoat, that would just be a guess at this point.  But I'd bet my next paycheck that the WH knew about this false flag attack.  Obama and Kerry's 100% positive act was a clue to that.  There are strong forces that have wanted Assad out since the beginning of this situation including Israel, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and parts of NATO.  But Turkey is being placed in the crosshairs.  I'm not sure about that.

        "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

        by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:07:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "is being placed in" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BigAlinWashSt, allie4fairness, KenBee

          is an intersting choice of words. It may be that "has placed itself in" is much more accurate.

          Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

          by InAntalya on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:14:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well, about that... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BigAlinWashSt, KenBee

          Do you have an anonymous source or any other that can support your assertion that Obama and Kerry knew about this false flag attack and were determined to go ahead anyway? Because as Hersh lays it out, once the Joint Chiefs had the evidence in hand, they went to the White House and persuaded the President that an attack would not be justified.

          The turn to asking Congress for approval was seen at the time by some as Obama waffling on Syria after his tough words, and puzzling - but it offered a plausible excuse for holding off and the break through on Assad's chemical arsenal that followed seems to have made it worth it. Further, the administration is still winding down two wars they inherited. Why would they be eager to jump into a new one?

          Granted, there are a lot of people with really good reasons to see Assad gone. But the price is pretty high. Do you think the President didn't care?

          If you want to believe Obama knew the attack was a false flag and still wanted to go ahead, then you have to believe that only the refusal of the Joint Chiefs to go along prevented it.

          Without knowing who Hersh has as a source, we can't really judge the credibility of that source, so we're left with judging how much we trust Hersh. Overall, his track record has been good over the years.

          "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

          by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:53:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd look at it the other way (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xaxnar, BigAlinWashSt, KenBee

            If The Joints Chiefs knew then the WH definitely knew. They have far more intelligence at their disposal plus their own military in JSOC. I don't think Hersh's article says the Joints Chiefs informed Obama on the intelligence. I read it as they know more about this than the WH realizes and informed the WH as such. The joints chiefs were saying, look, if you want to do this, then we don't think you have justification for it but here's our plan/s if you choose to ignore our advice.

            Also, the attack was near dead once Parliament vetoed English participation. Obama was going to have to go at it alone. That's when he decided to go to Congress which he knew would kill it. Going at it alone was the big Bush mistake in the Iraq war and Obama was not going to duplicate it.

            The WH wasn't being suckered. They were manipulating the intel to fit their agenda and got called on it.

          •  No, no direct source, but what I'd call a (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xaxnar, Lepanto

            preponderance of evidence based on observing what has happened in Syria from before the protests started as well as Libya, and the entire geopolitical agenda in that part of the world.
            There were many signs that the WH was getting anxious with their proxy war in Syria.  They were losing at that point and under a lot of pressure as they still are to get the job done.  
            I have trusted Hersh for sure.  I've pointed to his "The Redirection" many times in explaining what's been happening in Libya and Syria.  I don't distrust this, just speculating.  I know some people don't like that on this site.  Not saying you.

            "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

            by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 11:37:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Someone didn't read. (0+ / 0-)

      by DAISHI on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:05:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the post about the Hersh article. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, native, swarf, Lepanto

    I've tried in the past to write about many things mentioned in the article but soon learned that many just don''t want to know.

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:05:18 AM PDT

  •  Interesting stuff (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, happymisanthropy

    except it's still a bit unclear to me whether or not I should actually go read Hersh's article . . . .

    •  Read for the additional info (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      Hersh gets into more detail than I can here, without violating copyright for one thing. And there's enough in there that can be interpreted in different ways that it's worth looking at if only to come to your own conclusions. It's not all that long an article.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:30:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  People who initiate or condone a false flag attack (8+ / 0-)

    belong in jail, not in government. It's a hideous, unconscionable modus operandi -- the worst sort of terrorism imaginable.

    •  But if it works…. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's amazing how much success can excuse, as in the old saying about treason and prospering.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 10:28:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If it works, it works to advance (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        evil purposes, not beneficial ones. For example if this one had worked as intended, whose interests, and what causes would have been served? Who would have paid the price for that success?

        Success is no measure of virtue, or even of sanity.

  •  The U.S. "ALMOST got suckered into (6+ / 0-)

    blowing up the Middle East"?

    With respect, you appear to have overlooked that Iraq thingy.

    I'd say we blew 'er up real good.

    •  The difference is... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This time the trick was being played on us from outside. The Iraq thing we got suckered into by Bush/Cheney and the PNAC gang.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 11:15:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama really wanted a syria war (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, allie4fairness, Sunspots

    It was the damnedest thing.

    He wanted a war, the Saudi's wanted a war, the Israelis'
    wanted a war.

    Who didn't want a war?  Red Staters.

    The Opposition to military intervention was 9:1.

    They are sick to death of these wars.

    It's why Boehner couldn't deliver zip.  

    •  It wasn't just Red Staters. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There was plenty of opposition from elsewhere, including people here.

      And I don't think you can claim Obama wanted a Syria war because I think you're conflating it with the way the NeoCons wanted an Iraq War. I think it would be fairer to say that he didn't want another Ruwanda. Plus the other geopolitical concerns that apply to anything in the Middle East.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 11:20:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Syria (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, mkor7

    A short addition--unless I missed it.
    Amy Goodman and finest journalist in the U.S. covered this on Democracy Now a short while back. I appreciate the sentiment that we ought not (after Vietnam, Iraq, etc, etc.) get too fired up about getting to bloody armed bizness when The Powers blow their trumpets. To War To War To War we gotta go....Oh Firefly where are you when you're so needed?

    Where did the name Omnilepticon come from?

    •  Omnilepticon got pulled into the light... (0+ / 0-)

      From the recesses of the literary engine tucked away in the back of my brain somewhere. I occasionally use it to generate words when one that fits doesn't seem to be available.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 11:13:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another washed up air-head, you mean. (0+ / 0-)

      Coverage of the Holocaust in Syria by Democracy Now in THREE YEARS:

      Two  sentence mentions in 'Headlines' at the start - "xx killed in" sort of story.

      Followed by, for example, a 45 MIN. tribute to a deceased jazz legend I somehow had never heard of.  

      The open fawning over Traitor Snowden, Amy makes a spectacle of herself, banking on the NSA-FBI-CIA to nevertheless thwart terror attacks.

  •  Ignored? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Warning flags were not ignored, and the rush to obtain a desirable end - the downfall of Assad - was not allowed to overwhelm good sense. In  that regard, the Obama administration stands in marked contrast to its predecessors.
    More like willful negligence at best, lies and obfuscation at worst. After all wasn't the Iraq war a piece of cake?
    •  Well, in the Iraq war runup... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There were repeated warnings that there were no WMDs and Saddam Hussein asked for U.N. inspectors to prove it. All of that was deliberately dismissed, discredited or ignored so the NeoCons could have their perfect little war.

      The case for intervention in Syria was not so ideologically driven - and you didn't have a Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon cranking out the answers they wanted to hear.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 11:30:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  He doesn't have (0+ / 0-)

    the story. It's a jumble of semi-quotations with no attribution, too much speculation, poor writing and no organization.

    •  Consider it a working hypothesis then, (0+ / 0-)

      Until something more convincing comes along.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 02:08:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Assuming Hersh is correct (0+ / 0-)

    on US involvement in setting up this 'rat line' and running it out of Benghazi, I have a couple of comments to make about Turkish involvement:

    I do not believe Turkey went alone in creating a 'false-flag' Sarin gas attack; Turkey is, or was, the largest conduit for opium money coming out of Afghanistan.  There is no way they would risk that cash cow for a potentially advantageous, but small, change in Syria.  Turkey stands to be on the receiving end of a large contingent of Kurdish refugees, should the Syrian bombing have occurred, or worse (from Turkey's POV), if the bombing had succeeded, Kurds might have gained more power within Syria, potentially costing Turkey their control over their own Kurdish population.  Turkey's interest in Syria is driven by their 'Kurdish problem' above all.

    Given that 1) Opium production had ceased in Afghanistan under the Taliban, 2) it was at an all-time high by 2008-11, 3) if the USA wanted poppy fields eradicated, or the cash flow stopped, it has the means to carry out either objective; I conclude that 4) the USA has some, or de-facto general, control over the flow of cash from the opium trade, and that money is going to Turkey at the behest of the USA/CIA.  I find it likely that the CIA may have relinquished direct control over this 'rat line' when they lost a couple of key operative in the attack on Benghazi, but likely continued calling the shots and paying the bills, from a distance, using Afghanistan's drug money.  

    The USA has had no issue in the past supplying people like Saddam with Sarin (even directing his artillery when he wanted to use it), I don't see why (on any moral grounds) it is unlikely this wasn't still a CIA operation.  But having lost direct control, and not wanting to ship 50-gallon drums marked 'Sarin' from the USA, the execution was botched by the Turkish contractors (or they were sold poor-quality gas from wherever they sourced it, or the CIA expected to have complete control over samples 'testing').  It is also possible that Obama called off the strikes unexpectedly (to the CIA), upon learning more background on the Sarin attacks.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 03:24:37 PM PDT

  •  The Chris Floyd piece linked by Azazello above (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    raises a question that need to be answered:

    In the end, at the last moment, when all signs were pointing to war with Syria, Obama called off the attack. It is not clear why, but several factors doubtless played a part.


    But in the end, we can't say for sure what caused the reversal. There may have been other factors we have no inkling of.

    My (quite possibly wildly imaginative) surmisal is that President Obama was informed by Putin at the G8 meeting just what had been going on: thanks to Russian intelligence Obama finally got to know what members of his own admin. had been up to...

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 04:58:25 PM PDT

  •  xaxnar just WASTED your TIME with GARBAGE (0+ / 0-)

    The name Seymour Hersh means absolutely nothing, all credibility long gone from a fleeting moment 45 YEARS ago.
    This is all PROPAGANDA serving the interests of Vladimir Putin, out to defeat 'the West' by "winning" the war in Syria for the foolish Assad.

    It is one thing to invade a country and bomb certains parts of it, it is another to utterly destroy over half of your own country!

    Hersh is a 'single source' HACK, pandering to bored fools who just cannot stand that the US government is NOT lying at all.
    The 426 dead kids and 1003 adults somehow avenged by Assad staying in power, that should be the topic of outrage.

    •  Assad Gassed those kids, 100% guilty (0+ / 0-)

      Regarding the horrific undeniable Damascus attack using high-grade Sarin Gas and Russian made delivery rockets, left intact despite relentless shelling of the crime scene:

      Assad did it, conspiring with Putin allowing the Inspectors into Syria.   That allowed them to blame the rebels, with  conspiracy nuts foaming at the mouth.

      "We would have to be crazy to do this with the Inspectors here", yet what has Assad suffered as a result?

      1.  The Army did the very same CW attack dozens of times, using diluted Sarin or chlorine, etc. to incapacitate the rebels pre-attack.
      2.  The Army handed out gas masks
      3. The Army removed its forces from proximity.
      4. The FABULOUS NSA nailed the Army cold with intercepts, as it can do so well.
      5.  Assad had 2.4 MILLION pounds of the stuff, the rebels: 6 gas masks and powdered soap.

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