(This one's important, folks. Please pass the word.)
Well, here it is, such as it is: The administration has delivered its "evidence"
backing the idea that Assad suicidally ordered the use of chemical weapons in a militarily useless attack on civilians.
Bottom line: This isn't exactly one of those "Adlai at the UN" moments. The proof (if we can call it that) is onionskin-thin.
Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media.
Why don't they tell us the name of this "regime-controlled" area? We've already seen evidence that the launch area was actually in the hands of the rebels
Here's more from the White House:
We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack.
Oh, come off it. Nobody (that I know of) was talking about video fabrication. Skeptics, such as moi
, have repeatedly raised the possibility that the rebels launched the CW attack in order to draw America into the war. Why doesn't the White House address that issue instead of diverting us with a straw man argument?
We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence.
And that's it. You want proof? The sentence quoted above is all the proof that you're gonna get right now. I feel confident that we would be favored with more details -- the name of the official, an actual recording -- if this business were on the up-and-up.
The Guardian says that the intercepted communications came to us by way of our friends at Israel's Unit 8200
The bulk of evidence proving the Assad regime's deployment of chemical weapons – which would provide legal grounds essential to justify any western military action – has been provided by Israeli military intelligence, the German magazine Focus has reported.
Also see this
It's not as though the Israelis are disinterested parties. They make no effort to disguise the fact that they want us to get rid of Assad
, even though they don't want to take any part in that task themselves.
Seriously, am I the only one here who has read former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky's books? The first one, By Way of Deception
(banned in Israel, but never refuted) revealed that Israel used a cunning scheme to manipulate America into attacking Libya.
You can't understand what's going on now unless you understand what happened then.
Older readers will recall the furor over the 1986 La Belle discotheque bombing in West Germany. At the time, it was a big damned deal. For a while, nobody knew who did it, although many right-wing propagandists tried to blame the Russians. Then there was a surprise news conference in which the Reagan administration announced Libyan leader Gaddafi's culpability.
Logically speaking, the Libyans could hardly have hoped to profit from such an outrage. But Gaddafi was nuts, or so we were repeatedly told, and so the public went along with this story. Reagan launched a bombing raid on Libya -- but was pointedly disallowed from using French airspace. The French spooks had spotted telltale signs indicating that the evidence against Gaddafi was fake.
Then as now, we relied on intercepted communications to finger the bad guys. It seems that some extraordinarily chatty fellows from Libyan intelligence in Tripoli had sent telex messages to the perpetrators in West Germany.
The truth about those telexes was not revealed until Ostrovsky's book came out years later. Here's
a very brief summary:
Mossad, he says, provoked America's air strike on Libya in 1986 by making it appear that terrorist orders were being transmitted from the Libyan government to its embassies around the world. But the messages originated in Israel and were re-transmitted by a special communication device - a "Trojan horse" - Mossad had placed inside Libya.
Now let's take a look at the longer version
of this story, using excerpts from the book itself. In those days, a Trojan was not a name for a type of computer malware; it was a means of falsifying the origin of a communication.
I beg you to read (and that means read
, not skim) the following:
A Trojan was a special communication device that could be planted by naval commandos deep inside enemy territory. The device would act as a relay station for misleading transmissions made by the disinformation unit in the Mossad, called LAP, and intended to be received by American and British listening stations. Originating from an IDF navy ship out at sea, the prerecorded digital transmissions could be picked up only by the Trojan. The device would then rebroadcast the transmission on another frequency, one used for official business in the enemy country, at which point the transmission would finally be picked up by American ears in Britain.
The listeners would have no doubt they had intercepted a genuine communication, hence the name Trojan, reminiscent of the mythical Trojan horse. Further, the content of the messages, once deciphered, would confirm information from other intelligence sources, namely the Mossad.
By the end of March, the Americans were already intercepting messages broadcast by the Trojan, which was only activated during heavy communication traffic hours. Using the Trojan, the Mossad tried to make it appear that a long series of terrorist orders were being transmitted to various Libyan embassies around the world (or, as they were called by the Libyans, Peoples' Bureaus). As the Mossad had hoped, the transmissions were deciphered by the Americans and construed as ample proof that the Libyans were active sponsors of terrorism. What's more, the Americans pointed out, Mossad reports confirmed it.
The French and the Spanish, though, were not buying into the new stream of information. To them, it seemed suspicious that suddenly, out of the blue, the Libyans, who'd been extremely careful in the past, would start advertising their future actions. They also found it suspicious that in several instances Mossad reports were worded similarly to coded Libyan communications. They argued further that, had there truly been after-the-fact Libyan communications regarding the attack, then the terrorist attack on the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin on April 5 could have been prevented, since surely there would have been communications before, enabling intelligence agencies listening in to prevent It. Since the attack wasn't prevented, they reasoned that it must not be the Libyans who did it, and the "new communications" must be bogus. The French and the Spanish were right.
A number of years later, a few men belonging to a small terror cell (allegedly linked to Abu Nidal, who was not a Libyan) were convicted of the bombing. The judge in the case said that he had no evidence that Libyan intelligence had ordered the hit. In other words, the telexes were no longer considered valid evidence.
Eventually, during the Dubya years, the Libyan government did fork over millions of dollars as part of a compensation package that also included recompense for the Lockerbie incident. Of course, this gesture occurred at the time of Gaddafi's brief rapprochement with the United States. A lot of people think that he was simply "making nice" for political reasons; thus, the payment does not indicate actual guilt. (Libya and the US had entered into a complex dance during this strange period.)
You may appreciate one more small excerpt from Ostrovsky's book (published in 1990)...
Ephraim had spelled it all out for me and confirmed some of the information I'd already known. He then went on. "After the bombing of Libya, our friend Qadhafi is sure to stay out of the picture for some time. Iraq and Saddam Hussein are the next target. We're starting now to build him up as the big villain. It will take some time, but in the end, there's no doubt it'll work."
"But isn't Saddam regarded as moderate toward us, allied with Jordan, the big enemy of Iran and Syria?"
"Yes, that's why I'm opposed to this action. But that's the directive, and I must follow it...
The "Ephraim" here is Ephraim Halevy, who later headed Mossad. In the second book, Ostrovsky uses only Halevy's first name.
You may also want to look up a book by Anthony Pearson called Conspiracy of Silence
. I've not read it, but apparently it says that the Israelis broadcast cleverly falsified communications between Jordan and Egypt during the 1967 war.
Undoubtedly, the technology has changed. But the basic principle remains the same. I have very little doubt that we're seeing the same tricksters playing the same trick.
When I wrote the above, I thought I was the only one who flashed on By Way of Deception
. Just now, I learned that someone commenting on a Time article
made the same connection.
Added added note:
I'm grateful for the link, but the commenter here
gets this story wrong. I don't think that the Israelis did the actual bombing of the discotheque. That was the work of a small independent terror cell, composed of Palestinians and Libyans and linked to Abu Nidal. Ostrovsky says that the Israelis opportunistically faked congratulatory messages to the terrorists from Tripoli.