Seymour Hersh has published a blockbuster piece
on the Damascus sarin attacks which our government blamed on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
As you will recall, this accusation almost led to America becoming involved in Syria's civil war -- a prospect which, for very understandable reasons, proved distinctly unpleasant to the American people.
Most of our pundits still insist that Assad gave the order for the attacks. Neocon writers accuse Obama of shirking what they deem to be his imperial responsibilities. After all, the guy set a "red line," right?
In a sense, there's some truth in that accusation. Obama could
have gone to war despite the clearly expressed wishes of the America people. So why didn't he? Hersh:
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Ah-HA. Heretofore, I had presumed that the weapons were captured from Syrian army stockpiles and put into use by the rebels. (Why the rebels? Because they were the only ones who stood to gain; the attacks nearly dragged America into the war on their side.)
So where did
the sarin come from? Sy says Turkey.
Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’
Damn. Damn damn damn
. It all makes sense now, dunnit?
On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’.
I don't know how Hersh got hold of this report. But the real question is, why was it kept from us
, from We the People?
After all, we average citizens were supposed to pony up the dough for military intervention. If the war had spread, if the Syrian conflict had led to a much wider war in the Middle East, our soldiers would have fought and died. Surely we had (and have) a right
to see that "highly classified" document -- a document which reveals that the Obama administration has lied to us about Assad's responisbility?
Hersh warns that Turkey will continue to meddle in Syria. And it's not just Turkey:
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.
Emphasis added. Yes, you read that right: The man said Libya
. And that, god help us, brings us to...
The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report over the Beghazi controversy, and that report included a "highly classified annex" which
...described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping.
David Petraeus is said to have run this operation, although Petraeus denies the claim.
Bottom line: It looks as though the CIA and MI6 stole arms from Libya and shipped 'em off to the Syria rebels. One "Arab Spring" feeds another. Sort of like a human centipede.
And guess what? The whole shebang was being run out of that ill-fated consulate in Benghazi.
‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’
Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going.
Here's the part I don't yet understand -- the part we need to research: Was there a link between the ratline and the attack on the consulate?
A local Libyan group called Ansar al Shariah led the attack. Is it possible that they found out about the systematic robbery of Libyan weapons stores? Is that
they big secret we've all been trying to guess since 2012?
By the way:
Hersh's reporting on Syria and related matters was published yesterday in the London Review of Books. No-one in the American media seems willing to talk about any of this stuff. Memeorandum won't link to this piece. (Correction:
They just now listed it -- and they included a link to this humble blog!) So far, not one peep about it from the NYT, CNN, MSNBC, the WP, AP, Salon, Slate, HuffPo, TPM, Kos, DU...
The media silence is (as the saying has it) deafening.