4-May-17 – Why did Trump bomb Al-Shayrat?

by  Thierry Meyssan

Contrary to appearance, the US administration, far from behaving erratically, is attempting to define the framework for its foreign policy. President Donald Trump is negotiating with a spokesperson for the deep State which has been governing his country since 11 September 2001 – and it would seem that they have found the conditions for an agreement, whose details are still to be specified. Members of the administration will have to clarify the White House’s new foreign policy at the end of May, before a Congressional Committee.

[…]

By accusing Syria, in his turn, of having used poison gas, this time in Khan Cheikhoun, and by bombing them immediately, Donald Trump demonstrated the « credibility » that his predecessor lacked.

Aware that Syria was not guilty, either in the Ghouta or in Khan Cheikhoun, he managed to warn the Syrian Arab Army in advance so that they had time to evacuate the base before the strike.

Based on this action, he began negotiations with the deep US State, or at least with one of its spokespersons, Senator John McCain. A representative of Israël, Senator Lindsey Graham, was also present during the discussions.

The Europeans were of course surprised to learn that Donald Trump had acted as a « warlord », thus confirming his status as the President of a member state of the UNO. We have to keep in mind the particular context of the United States, where the deep State is composed primarily of military figures, and only incidentally of civilians.

According to our information, it would seem that President Trump has agreede to give up – for the time being – the dismantling of NATO and its civilian chapter, the European Union. This decision implies that Washington still considers – or pretends to consider – that Russia is its main enemy. Also the deep US State seems to have agreed to give up supporting the jihadists and pursuing the British plan of the « Arab Springs ».

To seal this agreement, two neo-conservative personalities should soon enter the Trump administration, where they will handle European policy : 

 Kurt Volker, Director of the McCain Institute (Arizona State University) will apparently be nominated as Director of the Eurasian bureau for the Secretary of State. Volker, an ex-military judge, was President Bush Jr’s ambassador to NATO during the war in Georgia (August 2008). 

 Tom Goffus, one of McCain’s assistants at the Senate Committee for Armed Services, will be nominated as deputy assistant for the Secretary of Defense, and tasked with Europe and NATO. Goffus is an Air Force officer who has already occupied this type of function on behalf of Hillary Clinton and the National Security Council.

As for Syria, this agreement, if ratified by both parties, should mark the end of the US war against the Syrian Arab Republic – a war that was pursued thanks to the initiative of the United Kingdom and Israël, with their allies (Germany, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, etc.). Little by little, the phony « Friends of Syria », which united 130 States and international organisations in 2012, began shrinking. There are only 10 left today.

3-May-17 – President Trump’s Korean Peninsula Gambit

By  Preston James

President Trump’s Korean Peninsula Gambit

 Highlights:

What exactly is the strategy that President Trump has now deployed to neutralize BRICS and Shanghai Silk Road which is the main recognized threat to the Federal Reserve System controlled American economic situation?

President Trump’s advisers now realize that unless the BRICS nations system and the new budding Shanghai Silk Road trading pact is neutralized, eventually the Federal Reserve System will be reduced in power and reach, and the US Petro Dollar will cease to be the World’s Reserve Currency. 

1- Trump’s strategy appears to be to counter Kim Jong Un’s saber-rattling and weapons display by sending subs and a carrier group near Korea, deploying massive amounts of well-armed drones that can strike North Korea with below-radar stealth attacks, and moving B1 and B2 bombers within easy striking distance of North Korea. But it is unlikely that this is what President Trump’s real agenda is.

2- A good bet is that President Trump has made a secret deal with China. This deal involves China being allowed to take back Taiwan as long as they deal with it like they did when they took back Hong Kong from the UK when their lease ran out. China left Hong Kong intact to operate as it was because it was so profitable and economics is a big concern of the new China. China agrees to cut off coal and food from North Korea and allow Trump to stage strategic strikes to remove Kim Jong Un from power. China allows Korea to be re-united as long as there will be no US military in Korea anymore and no nuclear weapons anywhere in the Korean peninsula, north or south.

3- President Trump will allow BRICS and Shanghai Silk Road AIIB to continue as long as they participate in a new IMF special Drawing Rights form of World Reserve Currency, making room for America to stay in the game, while allowing room for BRICS and the new Shanghai Silk-Road AIIB trade pact, which are both growing. Has President Trump set up the negotiated end of the FRS while appearing to be fighting for it; and just how dangerous a game is this for America?

4- Some of President Trump’s advisers may have different plans and may try to set off a full nuclear exchange-based WW3 with Russia and China by provoking them to act first, or staging a nuclear false-flag to be falsely blamed on Russia.

02-May-2017 – Privatized Prisons Make a Come Back – Is That How Trump Plans to Boost the Economy?

Privatized prisons were supposed to be fading into the past like a bad dream, but the new U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, says they are here to stay. No matter that the previous Administration determined that privatization does not make prisons more efficient. No matter that they are likely to increase the rate of the revolving door, as prisoners receive less counseling to help them integrate into life on the outside. No matter that conditions there are more likely to worsen any mental health issues they may have.

Is it really only the shareholders who matter?

Sue Binder’s new book Bodies in Beds: Why Businesses Should Stay Out of Prisons shows us how it matters to those inside, the workers and the offenders:

James was a mental health priority for me. He had a history of prior suicide attempts, self-mutilation, depression, and anxiety. I had been worried about James ever since he arrived, but was extremely concerned when he was placed in segregation. Inmates who already have serious mental health issues have been known to deteriorate when placed in segregation.
I spent a little more time with him than I did with some of the other mental health clients because of the necessity. I cringed because I did not have the staff or the time that these mental health inmates needed. I tried to make time when it was an emergency, when I saw a need. James was crying out for help. His help was not to be found in tossing him into segregation.
The Colorado Department of Corrections has actively integrated reform with new practices. The goal was to phase out long-term isolation of inmates. A report, Open the Door—Segregation Reforms in Colorado, states that administration segregation had shrunk from 1,500 to 160. [Earlier], some offenders had been housed in administrative segregation for more than twenty-four years.  
Research shows that seriously mentally ill prisoners were less able to successfully negotiate the complexity of the prison environment, committing infractions at three times the rate of non-seriously mentally ill counterparts.7
I thought about the medications he had arrived with. Had he been taking them regularly? I wondered. I knew he hadn’t had time to see the psychiatrist yet.
Because I understood the ramifications of a mentally-fragile inmate being in segregation, I made a special trip to see him. As I entered the segregation unit, I looked at the large white board on the wall. James’ name remained there.
“I thought James was to leave this morning,” I ventured. “No, not yet,” the officer on duty informed me. Puzzled, I traversed the room, heading straight toward James’ cell. Perhaps he could tell me what had happened. Another charge? Had some emergency interfered with his release?
I stopped dead still. “James!” I yelled. “James! Officer! NOW! Hanging! Hanging!”
Immigrants are  the newest category of bodies to be delivered in wholesale quantities to the prison industrial complex—just in time to make up for the reduced number of convicts in detention. Business is business. No wonder prison corporation stocks are rebounding.

Immigrants, who often consist of minorities, are, in some cases, being swooped up and detained in a brand new form of punishment for simply crossing a border without paperwork. Illegal entry has become more than just deportation. In fact, it has become another enormous profit-maker for the private prison systems. Interestingly, this all comes when fewer offenders are entering the system due to a reduction in crime. Some of this reduction may be due to the legalization of marijuana in several states. Most people would think that if fewer offenders are entering the system—there would be fewer offenders entering the gates of CCA facilities.

From the very beginning of the private prison concept, CCA has made provisions for such a phenomenon. … Namely, they noted that if laws changed and the courts began assigning lawbreakers to programs instead of directly to prison, they might be in trouble. This was never a secret.

Immigrant detention presented them with an opportunity from the outset; it could prevent significant loss of profits and stabilize CCA’s future. Whether they planned it or not, the very first facility they opened paved the way for their future profits. By incorporating the U.S. Government into their packaging, they have been able to avoid serious financial problems, in spite of the declining crime rate. Thus, immigrant detention coupled with the restructuring under the aforementioned Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) enabled CCA to further acquire enormous profits. All of this was taking place right under the noses of taxpayers.

1-May-17 – Behind the Smokescreen: Trump’s Policies Meant to ‘Weaken Opposition at Home’

Donald Trump promised to focus on America’s domestic affairs, but his first months in office have been marked by aggressive posturing abroad, something few have expected. This strategy is a cover-up tactic that Trump uses to tackle those opposed to his policies at home, journalist and political analyst Anatoly Wasserman wrote for Sputnik.

"Trump has largely been forced to carry out policies of the previous US administration against the backdrop of unyielding propaganda pressure. As far as I understand, he has adhered to these policies as a smokescreen in the sense that he has carried out extremely aggressive missions to achieve purely propaganda results," the analyst explained.

© AP Photo/ Carolyn Kaster

Trump Doesn’t Care About Your Hurt Knee: Worry About North Korea Instead!

Wasserman cited the Pentagon’s massive airstrike against a base operated by the Syrian Arab Army as a case in point. The operation which saw 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles hit an airstrip in the Idlib province resulted in minimal damage.

"In addition, the Russian air defense system [deployed to Syria] appears to have received a wonderful opportunity to test its components. Of course, there has been no official confirmation, but indirect signs abound," he said.

The White House has used the same approach with North Korea. Although tensions between both countries have increased, neither has made any real offensive steps. Wasserman described DPRK leader Kim Jong-un as "clearheaded," saying that the North "does not pose a threat to anyone."

However, if Pyongyang "comes under attack, it could give a strong response. Some experts assume that due to an unorthodox use of nuclear technologies North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead on all of its missiles, some of which could be deployed to US shores on diesel-electric submarines," the analyst said. "In these circumstances, Trump has naturally settled on tough talk and saber-rattling."

Wasserman further suggested that Trump’s assertiveness is not aimed at foreign nations, but is rather directed at his domestic opponents.
Trump’s tough stance on Russia "is aimed at weakening domestic opposition, not Moscow," the analyst said. "As far as I understand, he has mentioned sanctions primarily because our country has clearly demonstrated its capacity to withstand them."

30-April-17 – There’ll Be Plenty for the New British Troops To Do in Afghanistan

By Musa Khan Jalalzai

Author of The Afghan Intel Crisis : Satellite State, War of Interests and the Blame-Game

Just an idea what the British will be facing this time around in Afghanistan.

Due to the politicization of Afghanistan’s civilian and military intelligence agencies, Afghan security forces [are] undergoing a serious security crisis. The ANA [lacks] intelligence collection capabilities. NATO and the US lost thousands of troops, and spent half a trillion dollars to build a strong army, but now they seem unwilling to address the exponentially growing corruption culture within the Afghan armed forces. Civilian casualties rose to a record level as the Taliban retrieved sophisticated weapons from Russia. Desertion and retention became a persistent challenge for ANA commanders as thousands of soldiers and officers joined either Taliban or the ISIS terrorist groups. Afghan Defense Ministry was losing as many as 5,000 soldiers and officers every month in cases of desertion and casualties in 2015 and 2016.

In February, the ANA arrested and disarmed 30 cops with alleged Taliban ties, including the police chief of Helmand’s Sangin district. Drug trafficking was another serious challenge where, according to the Russian Narcotics Agency report, almost a third of the ANA officers turned to drug trafficking. Army generals and officers were deeply involved in drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom. The question of merited appointment also remained unsolved as the Military Headquarters and the Intelligence agencies done nothing to oversight selection process to ensure merited promotions.

Those who fought against insurgents during the last 15 years were removed from their posts, and those who enjoyed a comfortable life in Kabul were promoted to the rank of general. The ambassador of the European Union to Afghanistan expressed his dismay that the number of Afghan army generals exceeded several times than those in Britain, Italy, Germany and France. On 11 October 2016, President Ashraf Ghani sternly criticized appointments of unprofessional officers and soldiers within the ranks of the Afghan armed forces. On 15 October 2016, a number of MPs in the lower house of parliament criticized intelligence agencies and warned that the lack of war strategy resulted in the exchange of districts between ANA commanders and Taliban insurgents.

…All military commanders are answerable to their political masters and war criminals with conflicting priorities rather than to the state and government. On 29 December, Afghan police commanders loyal to a specific political group refused to fight against Taliban in Helmand. In the end of 2014, more than 100 Afghan police joined Taliban.

19-April-17 – After Six Years of War, The Syrian Army Has Effective Anti-Rocket Missiles

By Valentin Vasilescu

Trans. by Alice Decker

The Role of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles in Syria

Since 2012, Syrian rebels have taken control of several of the Syrian army’s weapons depots, capturing ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) manufactured by Russia such as the 9M113 Konkurs and 9K115-2 Metis-M. Later, in 2014, Saudi Arabia which already had over 15,000 ATGMs (nearly 10,000 of them being BGM-71 TOW 2s) acquired another 14,000 TOW 2s (BGM-71D) and TOW 2As (BGM-71E) from the American corporation Raytheon, for which they paid nearly $ 1 billion.

It just so happens that, in 2014, the “moderate” Islamist rebels supported by the Gulf states, Turkey and the US were supplied with 2,000 to 3,000 ATGM systems of various types, including the 9K111 Fagot [Russian for “bassoon”], the 9M133 Kornet, the 9M113 Konkurs, and the H-8 and H-73C (produced in China), the Milan (from France–Germany) and the BGM-71 TOW2.

The media have shown evidence that the FSA rebels (Free Syrian Army) alone received about 790 BGM-71 TOW 2 systems from Saudi Arabia from April 4–15, 2014. They would have been delivered clandestinely at the Turkish border with the complicity of Qatar and the US.

Following the Russian air force intervention in Syria at the invitation of Bashar Al Assad in November 2016, ATGM shipments to rebel groups were increased exponentially. Another nine Islamist groups including Al Nusra (Syria’s Al-Qaeda subsidiary) have in their possession nearly 2,000 BGM-71 TOW2 systems.

According to Armament Research Services,

The US-produced TOW[1] missiles are in use by many armed forces, including Syria’s regional neighbors Bahrain, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen.

The Defense Logistics Agency’s WebFLIS service shows that BGM-71E-3B missiles have seen service with both the US Army and US Marine Corps, with the Marines having recently become the primary managing organization for this item. This particular example is marked as having been produced by Hughes Aircraft Company as part of a contract first awarded in January 1990 (see contract number, also visible in the image below). This contract was taken over by Raytheon when Hughes was purchased by them in 1997 and has been re-awarded seven times since its initial issue, with the most recent award in 2004. Consequently, the missile was probably produced between 1990 and 1997 [2].

Electro-Optical and IR Countermeasures

ATGMs, especially the BGM-71 TOW 2, used in urban combat, have become a nightmare for Syrian tank operators because they have caused significant losses and damaged the Syrian army’s morale. For example, in February 2015, during the offensive to take Idlib, the ATGM-armed Islamic rebels destroyed about 40 Syrian army tanks.

This was possible because the Syrian army’s old T-53 and T-62 tanks had little protection, mainly some armor on the tank chassis. In order to reduce the cost as much as possible, the newest tanks (T-72) were ordered from the Soviet Union without any supplementary packages of “Kontakt” or “Relikt” Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) applied over their own armor. ERA provides additional protection equivalent to 620–700 mm of RHA (Rolled Homogeneous Armor). Neither did the Syrian tanks have any active-type armor (such as the “Arena” or “Shtora” system found on Russian T-72B3M / B4M and T-90 tanks) that automatically detects, intercepts and detonates antitank munitions before they hit the tank.

To remove this vulnerability, in 2012 the Syrian Scientific Research Center (SSRC) started a research program to create a jamming device against ATGMs that use the SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight) principle. ATGMs with 2nd generation SACLOS require the operator to keep his weapon’s target in the weapon sight until the missile has impacted. ATGMs are capable of destroying tanks and armored vehicles, bunkers, fortifications, buildings and other obstacles. ATGM jammers were available but Syria could not buy them because it was under the UN embargo. The Shtora on the Russian T-90 tank was too complex and the SSRC could not fit on the T-55, T-62 and T-72 tanks.

Instead, in 2014, the Syrian Army intelligence service captured 18 BGM-71 TOW2 systems from the FSA rebels in northern Syria. These were dismantled and studied by the SSRC. The BGM-71 TOW2 has a range of 3,750 m and has a 5.9 kg high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead which operates in two stages, that is, a small warhead explodes on impact with the tank, then detonates the main warhead. The main warhead emits a jet of gas and molten metal at a speed of 1,500–3,000 m / s which can penetrate armor as much as one meter thick. The BGM-71 TOW2 missile features a xenon lamp and a thermal beacon at the rear, allowing it to be tracked and guided by the sensors and the operator through the IR and thermal sighting and targeting.

The Syrian Sarab System

The Syrian army first used its Sarab-1 (“mirage”) active protection, mounted above the turret on T-62 tanks, near the NSVT 12.7mm heavy machine gun, in its offensive on Khanaser, south of Aleppo (21–29 February 2016). This proved to be a good antidote against the 9M113 Konkurs ATGM used by the Islamic State. The Sarab-1 disrupted the optical command link between the operator and the ATGM sensor, so that the ATGM missiles could not receive the operator’s corrections to the trajectory; instead they received false commands transmitted by Sarab-1 via IR and they missed their targets.

The Sarab-1 system uses several transmitters that cover about 120 ° of the front of the tank. The transmitters are based on high-powered infrared LEDs and uses lenses to focus the light rays. Sarab-1 is a primitive form of Shtora and has shown to have an efficiency rating of over 80%. The Syrian army has also used Sarab-1 to protect its fixed support points (artillery pieces, fortified buildings, etc.) against ATGMs. Sarab-1 was not developed and tested according to the standards of the weapons industry but directly on the battlefield, against Islamic rebels.

Sarab-2

Sarab-2, an improved version, was mounted on the T-62 and T-55 tanks used in the fight against Islamic State near Palmyra. At 2.34 seconds from launch and after traversing approximately 520 m (considered to be its minimum limit of efficiency) the BGM-71 Tow2’s IR sensor automatically switches from Large Field of View mode (with an angle of more than 6°) to the Narrow Field of View mode (between 1 and 0.25°). At this stage, the Sarab-2 emits stronger IR beams than those in the rear of the antitank missile (which are tracked by the launcher’s guidance system). These false data emitted by Sarab-2 cause the ATGM guidance system to send sudden corrections to the vertical flight and the rocket hits the ground before it gets near the target. Batteries provide 10 hours of operating power for Sarab-2, and its transmitters cover a frontal sector of 180°.

The latest version, Sarab-3, also uses laser beams and protects the tank in a complete 360 ​​° sector. The only problem is that the Sarab family has no effect on wire-guided or optical fiber ATGMs, RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenades), or portable man-launched rockets.

And Low-Tech Protection

US armored vehicles used in the invasion of Iraq (2003) and in Afghanistan were provided with a steel grille mounted at a distance of 1 m from the vehicle and providing 360° coverage. This solution was effective against RPGs (RPG-7, SPG-9) and some ATGMs, because the projectiles explode on contact with the tank’s grille and even if they pierce the armor itself, they do not explode inside the vehicle.

In February 2017, on the outskirts of Damascus, hundreds of Syrian Army vehicles were observed, T-72 M tanks, BMP-2s (IFV), ZSU-23-4 tanks and bulldozers from the 4th Tank Division, with a steel grating mounted on them. Bulldozers with armor plates welded on are used extensively in Syria’s urban areas to create the corridors needed to get tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery pieces through, past the ruins of buildings.

April-16-17 – We Just Survived World War III

Here we have it. First, The Donald’s tough talk – “I’m crazy. I can start WW 3. I fear nothing!”

The tough talk is immediately followed by weak facts as we have a fake gas attack, all staged, like on a movie set.

Then we have a fake Tomahawk attack where 60% of the missiles disappeared and “nobody knows where.” The Russians are saying that they were not within their reach; the Syrians are mum; and the US declares it was a complete success, a wipe-out strike, without accounting for anything on their side. No signs of damage on the Syrian side, either, although the US claims to have inflicted a devastating blow to “the Syrian regime” (20% of Assad’s air force, which would be something like 100 planes, and the air base “disabled forever,” and so on).

Now comes the second act in this Kabuki theater: the Tough Donald takes on North Korea.

First we have 600,000 people evacuated from Pyongyang and preparations for a “major event,” then all the foreign journalists are summoned, just to announce a street opening.

Then we have the gathering of the entire military leadership and dozens and dozens of Korean submarine-launched missiles, ICBM missiles, medium-range missiles, all within a one-mile radius brought together in the center of Pyongyang creating an open invitation for an all-out American bulls-eye strike. One would expect a Mother Of All Bombs to wipe out the entire military leadership and at least 20% of their toys, as in Syria.

But the devastating blow came later, not with a Boom but the Hiss of a deflating balloon — in this case, a failed launch of a Korean missile. Was it the launch of a state-of-the-art ICBM? No, just a routine medium range, maybe even short-range missile. Maybe no range at all.

So now McMaster, and all the other masters of the US full-spectrum dominance, supposedly took out a toy missile. The mountain gave birth to a mouse.

Maybe it was the overwhelming concentration of forces by the “full spectrum dominant” force, their satellites, aircraft carriers, submarines, THAAD, cyber/electronic warfare, all brought together to stop this missile in its flight. But maybe, also, the Korean Boy who runs the fearless Korean war machine set up a prank, maybe together with the Chinese (maybe agreed at the famous chocolate-cake war room conference at Mar-a-Lago), so that they had a launch and self-destroyed it instantly.

Now everybody can go home and have their Easter eggs. Oof, we avoided World War III! Or, maybe we that was it, we just had it. Who knows?

But we all survived, and now the Donald has had himself awarded the title of a war president, and he can now negotiate with the Chinese and the Russians – from a position of strength . . . the demise of the United States.

Happy Spring to a new world.

April-12-17 – U.S. Intelligence Source: Syria Chemical Weapons Attack Launched From Saudi Base

Trump Withholds Syria-Sarin Evidence

April 12, 2017

Exclusive: Despite President Trump’s well-known trouble with the truth, his White House now says “trust us” on its Syrian-sarin charges while withholding the proof that it claims to have, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

After making the provocative and dangerous charge that Russia is covering up Syria’s use of chemical weapons, the Trump administration withheld key evidence to support its core charge that a Syrian warplane dropped sarin on a northern Syrian town on April 4.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, March 16, 2017. (DoD photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

A four-page white paper, prepared by President Trump’s National Security Council staff and released by the White House on Tuesday, claimed that U.S. intelligence has proof that the plane carrying the sarin gas left from the Syrian military airfield that Trump ordered hit by Tomahawk missiles on April 6.

The paper asserted that “we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence,” but then added that “we cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods.”

I’m told that the key evidence was satellite surveillance of the area, a body of material that U.S. intelligence analysts were reviewing late last week even after the Trump-ordered bombardment of 59 Tomahawk missiles that, according to Syrian media reports, killed seven or eight Syrian soldiers and nine civilians, including four children.

Yet, it is unclear why releasing these overhead videos would be so detrimental to “sources and methods” since everyone knows the U.S. has this capability and the issue at hand – if it gets further out of hand – could lead to a nuclear confrontation with Russia.

In similarly tense situations in the past, U.S. Presidents have released sensitive intelligence to buttress U.S. government assertions, including John F. Kennedy’s disclosure of U-2 spy flights in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Ronald Reagan revealing electronic intercepts after the Soviet shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983.

Yet, in this current case, as U.S.-Russian relations spiral downward into what is potentially an extermination event for the human species, Trump’s White House insists that the world must trust it despite its record of consistently misstating facts.

In the case of the April 4 chemical-weapons incident in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which reportedly killed scores of people including young children, I was told that initially the U.S. analysts couldn’t see any warplanes over the area in Idlib province at the suspected time of the poison gas attack but later they detected a drone that they thought might have delivered the bomb.

A Drone Mystery

According to a source, the analysts struggled to identify whose drone it was and where it originated. Despite some technical difficulties in tracing its flight path, analysts eventually came to believe that the flight was launched in Jordan from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base for supporting Syrian rebels, the source said, adding that the suspected reason for the poison gas was to create an incident that would reverse the Trump administration’s announcement in late March that it was no longer seeking the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

President Trump at a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on April 5, 2017, at which the President commented on the crisis in Syria. (Screen shot from whitehouse.gov)

If indeed that was the motive — and if the source’s information is correct — the operation would have been successful, since the Trump administration has now reversed itself and is pressing Russia to join in ousting Assad who is getting blamed for the latest chemical-weapons incident.

Presumably, however, the “geospatial intelligence” cited in the four-page dossier could disprove this and other contentions if the Trump administration would only make its evidence publicly available.

The dossier stated, “Our information indicates that the chemical agent was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that took off from the regime-controlled Shayrat Airfield. These aircraft were in the vicinity of Khan Shaykhun approximately 20 minutes before reports of the chemical attack began and vacated the area shortly after the attack.”

So, that would mean – assuming that the dossier is correct – that U.S. intelligence analysts were able to trace the delivery of the poison gas to Assad’s aircraft and to the airfield that Trump ordered attacked on April 6.

Still, it remains a mystery why this intelligence assessment is not coming directly from President Trump’s intelligence chiefs as is normally the case, either with an official Intelligence Estimate or a report issued by the Director of National Intelligence.

The photograph released by the White House of President Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017, regarding his decision to launch missile strikes against Syria.

The White House photo released late last week showing the President and a dozen senior advisers monitoring the April 6 missile strike from a room at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was noteworthy in that neither CIA Director Mike Pompeo nor Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was in the frame.

Now, it is the White House that has released the four-page dossier supposedly summing up the assessment of the “intelligence community.”

An Argumentative Dossier

The dossier also seems argumentative in that it assumes that Russian officials – and presumably others – who have suggested different possible explanations for the incident at Khan Sheikdoun did so in a willful cover-up, when any normal investigation seeks to evaluate different scenarios before settling on one.

It is common amid the “fog of war” for people outside the line of command – and even sometimes inside the line of command – to not understand what happened and to struggle for an explanation.

On April 6, before Trump’s missile strike, I and others received word from U.S. military intelligence officials in the Middle East that they, too, shared the belief that the poison gas may have resulted from a conventional bombing raid that ruptured containers stored by the rebels, who – in Idlib province – are dominated by Al Qaeda’s affiliate and its allies.

Those reports were cited by former U.S. intelligence officials, including more than two dozen who produced a memo to President Trump urging him to undertake a careful investigation of the incident before letting this crisis exacerbate U.S.-Russia relations.

The memo said “our U.S. Army contacts in the area” were disputing the official story of a chemical weapons attack. “Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died,” the memo said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing the audience at a concert for Palmyra, Syria, via a satellite link on May 5, 2016, after the ancient city was liberated from the Islamic State. (Image from RT’s live-streaming of the event)

In other words, to suggest possible alternative scenarios is not evidence of a “cover-up,” even if the theories are later shown to be erroneous. It is the normal process of sorting through often conflicting initial reports.

Even in the four-page dossier, Trump’s NSC officials contradicted what other U.S. government sources have told The New York Times and other mainstream news outlets about the Syrian government’s supposed motive for launching the chemical-weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

According to the earlier accounts, the Syrian government either was trying to terrorize the population in a remote rebel-controlled area or was celebrating its impunity after the Trump administration had announced that it was no longer seeking Assad’s removal.

But the dossier said, “We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in northern Hamah Province that threatened key infrastructure.” Although Khan Sheikhoun was not near the fighting, the dossier presented the town as an area of support for the offensive.

Assuming this assessment is correct, does that mean that the earlier explanations were part of a cover-up or a propaganda operation? The reality is that in such complex situations, the analyses should continue to be refined as more information becomes available. It should not be assumed that every false lead or discarded theory is proof of a “cover-up,” yet that is what we see here.

“The Syrian regime and its primary backer, Russia, have sought to confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks,” the dossier declared.

But the larger point is that – given President Trump’s spotty record for getting facts straight – he and his administration should go the extra mile in presenting irrefutable evidence to support its assessments, not simply insisting that the world must “trust us.”

[In a separate analysis of the four-page dossier, Theodore Postol, a national security specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, concluded that the White House claims were clearly bogus, writing:

“I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

“In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4. This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment, is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

April-12-17 – U.S. Intelligence Source: Syria Chemical Weapons Attack Launched From Saudi Base

Award winning journalist Robert Parry says incident was likely a false flag

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
April 12, 2017

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Award-winning Iran-Contra journalist Robert Parry says the chemical weapons attack in Syria was launched from a joint Saudi-Israeli special operations base in Jordan, according to his intelligence sources.

U.S. intelligence analysts determined that a drone was responsible for the attack and “eventually came to believe that the flight was launched in Jordan from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base for supporting Syrian rebels,” according to the source.

“The suspected reason for the poison gas was to create an incident that would reverse the Trump administration’s announcement in late March that it was no longer seeking the removal of President Bashar al-Assad,” writes Parry.

As we highlighted back in 2013 after another chemical weapons attack in Ghouta that was blamed on Assad, rebels freely admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they had been given the weapons by Saudi Arabia but had “handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.”

Parry’s background lends the information credibility. He covered the Iran-Contra scandal for the Associated Press and Newsweek and was later given a George Polk award for his work on intelligence matters.

The contention that the incident was a “false flag” to create a justification for air strikes has also been voiced by former Congressman Ron Paul as well as numerous other prominent voices, including Vladimir Putinhimself, who went on to warn that rebels could now stage a similar incident in Damascus to goad the U.S. into toppling Assad.

Whoever was responsible for the attack does not take away from the horror of the event and the fact that innocent people and children died.

Parry dismissed the four page report released by President Trump’s National Security Council that blames the Syrian government for the chemical attack as being heavy on assertions but lacking actual evidence.

The white paper states, “we cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods,” although as Parry points out, “In similarly tense situations in the past, U.S. Presidents have released sensitive intelligence to buttress U.S. government assertions, including John F. Kennedy’s disclosure of U-2 spy flights in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Ronald Reagan revealing electronic intercepts after the Soviet shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983.”

Parry challenged the Trump administration to make its evidence publicly available, while also questioning why both CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats were not show in a photo released by the White House which shows the President and a dozen of his senior advisers monitoring the April 6 missile strike from a room at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

“Given President Trump’s spotty record for getting facts straight – he and his administration should go the extra mile in presenting irrefutable evidence to support its assessments, not simply insisting that the world must “trust us,” concludes Parry.

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April-9-17 – Tillerson Will Not Be Meeting with Putin

Rossiyskiy Dialog April 9, 2017, 16:42

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not fly to Moscow this Tuesday, April 11, to meet with President Vladimir Putin, despite the fact that just yesterday it was understood that Washington wants to persuade Russia to stop supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The meeting between Putin and Tillerson has been cancelled, as Steve Herman, head of Voice of America in the White House, made public Sunday afternoon, April 9.

According to Herman, the private talks with Putin scheduled for April 11–12 disappeared from his working schedule less than two days beforehand. The reasons for this cancellation have not been made clear.

[Earlier today, CBS News was still broadcasting that “Ahead of Moscow visit, Tillerson blames Russia’s ‘failure’ in Syria for killings.” At the same time, Stratfor reports that the “meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been removed from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s schedule…” but that, “Regardless, Tillerson will continue discussions on Syria in person in Moscow on April 11-12.” ]

The American media reports that Tillerson is allegedly flying to Moscow with evidence that Damascus organized the chemical attack on Idlib on April 4, and with a demand that the Kremlin desist from further supporting the legitimate authority in Syria.

As previously reported by "Russian Dialogue," Tillerson has accused Russia of ignoring its obligations to dispose of chemical weapons in Syria, charging Moscow with responsibility for their possible presence in Damascus.

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