I'm not the only one who has been wondering why we don't join forces with Bashar Assad to defeat ISIS. A rising chorus is sounding that note.
So forgive me for pointing out the suspicious timing of this Yahoo News story which purports to give us "smoking gun proof"
of Assad's evil. The evidence is a trove of 27,000 images of torture victims. These pictures were supposedly taken by Assad's official torture photographer, a man known only as Caesar. We are told that Caesar, sickened by his job, eventually turned against the regime and made his way to the UK.
(Along the way, he faked his death. I've long voiced my suspicion that Anwar al-Awlaki did the very same thing, with our aid.)
Actually, Ceasar was introduced to the world back in January
; the BBC wrote about him in June
. For some reason, his story is making the rounds in the news once more.
Look, I don't want to sound flippant or dismissive when discussing evidence of an incredibly serious crime. But:
1. Caesar seems more than a little reminiscent of Curveball
, the fellow who told some of the lies about WMDs that gave rise to the Iraq war. I'm not the only one who thinks that Caesar resembles the great Iraqi hoaxer: See here
2. There is a long history of defectors who made a living by telling their sponsors anything the sponsors wanted to hear.
3. American news sources hid the fact that Caesar's report was paid for by the Qataris and the Saudis, the prime funders of ISIS.
But it gets worse – we discover that the ‘report’ was commissioned by the Qataris and authored by Carter Ruck law firm in London, solicitors who just happen to also represent Saudi clients accused of, wait for it… funneling money to al Qaida terrorists. Yes, like those same terrorists who happen to have flooded into Syria over the last two and a half years.
4. Caesar has pushed the "Assad created ISIS" propaganda meme. We know now ISIS owes its existence to funders in Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- not to Assad.
5. History teaches us to be wary when assessing atrocity claims. For example: In the 1980s, Robert Conquest and William F. Buckley teamed up to created a documentary called Harvest of Sorrow
, which showed photographs of people who died in a famine deliberately created (or so the film claimed) by Joseph Stalin. In fact, the documentary was a complete fake
which misrepresented images taken at other times in other places. (The famine in Ukraine resulted from crop-burnings committed by anti-communist guerrillas
6. Michael Isakoff's "new" Caesar story
on Yahoo News makes no reference to the skeptical reactions that arose when Caesar made the news back in January. In fact, Isakoff strives to give the impression that Caesar has never been mentioned previously!
Bottom line: This collection of photographs depicts a large number of people who were killed after being abused terribly. (The actual number is open to dispute, as this Christian Science Monitor report
indicates.) But where is the evidence that Bashar Assad perpetrated these crimes?
Perhaps we are looking at victims of ISIS, Nusra, or the Free Syrian Army. All three rebel groups have been committing atrocities. The rebels have persecuted, tortured and killed many non-Sunnis -- Alawites, Shiites and Christians -- and have meted out brutal treatment to Assad's armed forces.