In light of Hersh’s recent article on Ghouta, worth revisiting this AP piece from August 29th 2013.

Like Hersh’s article, it’s based on leaks from anonymous Intelligence and Political sources. It quickly disappeared down the memory hole in the rush to blame the regime and bomb Syria, but among other things it says (all emphasis mine):

President Barack Obama declared unequivocally Wednesday that the Syrian government was responsible, while laying the groundwork for an expected U.S. military strike . . . However, multiple U.S. officials used the phrase “not a slam dunk” to describe the intelligence picture — a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a “slam dunk” — intelligence that turned out to be wrong’.

‘A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria includes a few key caveats – including acknowledging that the U.S. intelligence community no longer has the certainty it did six months ago of where the regime’s chemical weapons are stored, nor does it have proof Assad ordered chemical weapons use, according to two intelligence officials and two more U.S. officials’.

‘U.S. satellites have captured images of Syrian troops moving trucks into weapons storage areas and removing materials, but U.S. analysts have not been able to track what was moved or, in some cases, where it was relocated. They are also not certain that when they saw what looked like Assad’s forces moving chemical supplies, those forces were able to remove everything before rebels took over an area where weapons had been stored’.

‘In addition, an intercept of Syrian military officials discussing the strike was among low-level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack back to an Assad insider or even a senior Syrian commander, the officials said‘.

‘U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war‘.

This article certainly adds credence to, or compliments if you like, the claims in Hersh’s article, and it seems fairly clear that U.S. Intelligence at the time weren’t in fact certain of regime guilt, and were indeed discussing the possibility of a rebel ‘false flag’. Some Intelligence operatives were clearly concerned enough about the way in which the intelligence was being (mis)used to drum up a case for war that they were prepared to go to the Associated Press to make those concerns known.

Is it so hard to imagine that they would also go to a reporter who is renowned for having excellent contacts in the Intelligence community?

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