I'm Far From Convinced by the U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's [Alleged] Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013

Colin Powell's UNSC Show Redux: "...intelligence agencies observed a team of chemical weapons specialists being activated...."

You're going to have to do better than that. We want to see hard evidence, not hear your mere speculations, at best, couched as proof positive. You're going to have to deal with whether the "rebels" have been releasing chemical agents.

There is a report in the public domain quoting "rebels" that they've been supplied chemical weapons by the Saudis and that people have died in Syria due to their release. You can't attack just the government under your so-called "red line" rationale if the rebels have used them.

You are apparently engaging in a massive psy-op (misinformation and spin; fabrication; pretext development, etc). You appear to be disinterested in truth, peace, and justice but rather interested in extending your self-centered, coercive, global domination.

Tom Usher

Tom Usher

More than 1,400 killed in Syrian chemical weapons attack, U.S. says - The Washington Post

U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's
Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013

The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack. These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting. Our classified assessments have been shared with the U.S. Congress and key international partners. To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community's analysis of what took place.

Syrian Government Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21

A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations.

A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information.

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime's preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition. Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation. We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.

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Background:

The Syrian regime maintains a stockpile of numerous chemical agents, including mustard, sarin, and VX and has thousands of munitions that can be used to deliver chemical warfare agents.

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is the ultimate decision maker for the chemical weapons program and members of the program are carefully vetted to ensure security and loyalty. The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) – which is subordinate to the Syrian Ministry of Defense – manages Syria's chemical weapons program.

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year, including in the Damascus suburbs. This assessment is based on multiple streams of information including reporting of Syrian officials planning and executing chemical weapons attacks and laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin. We assess that the opposition has not used chemical weapons.

The Syrian regime has the types of munitions that we assess were used to carry out the attack on August 21, and has the ability to strike simultaneously in multiple locations. We have seen no indication that the opposition has carried out a large-scale, coordinated rocket and artillery attack like the one that occurred on August 21.

We assess that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons over the last year primarily to gain the upper hand or break a stalemate in areas where it has struggled to seize and hold strategically valuable territory. In this regard, we continue to judge that the Syrian regime views chemical weapons as one of many tools in its arsenal, including air power and ballistic missiles, which they indiscriminately use against the opposition.

The Syrian regime has initiated an effort to rid the Damascus suburbs of opposition forces using the area as a base to stage attacks against regime targets in the capital. The regime has failed to clear dozens of Damascus neighborhoods of opposition elements, including neighborhoods targeted on August 21, despite employing nearly all of its conventional weapons systems. We assess that the regime's frustration with its inability to secure large portions of Damascus may have contributed to its decision to use chemical weapons on August 21.

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Preparation:

We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.

Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of 'Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilization of gas masks. Our intelligence sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in the days prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to use chemical weapons.

The Attack:

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. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack.

Local social media reports of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs began at 2:30 a.m. local time on August 21. Within the next four hours there were thousands of social media reports on this attack from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area. Multiple accounts described chemical-filled rockets impacting opposition-controlled areas.

Three hospitals in the Damascus area received approximately 3,600 patients displaying symptoms consistent with nerve agent exposure in less than three hours on the morning of August 21, according to a highly credible international humanitarian organization. The reported symptoms, and the epidemiological pattern of events – characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers – were consistent with mass exposure to a nerve agent. We also received reports from international and Syrian medical personnel on the ground.

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We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure. The reported symptoms of victims included unconsciousness, foaming from the nose and mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Several of the videos show what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions or blister agents. At least 12 locations are portrayed in the publicly available videos, and a sampling of those videos confirmed that some were shot at the general times and locations described in the footage.

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.

We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude that regime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. 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. On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations. At the same time, the regime intensified the artillery barrage targeting many of the neighborhoods where chemical attacks occurred. In the 24 hour period after the attack, we detected indications of artillery and rocket fire at a rate approximately four times higher than the ten preceding days. We continued to see indications of sustained shelling in the neighborhoods up until the morning of August 26.

To conclude, there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government's responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21. As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.

Source:U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's
Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013

The Syrian government could be issuing and using gas masks to protect them from rebel use of chemicals. The UN reported months ago that it appeared to them that the rebels, and not the government, had used chemicals.

Why should anyone, why should I, simply take your word for it while you hide behind "sources and methods" as an excuse?

You are asking to attack a sovereign nation-state based upon what looks to me to be a tiny bit of perhaps circumstantial evidence and while you, your officials in high places, blatantly lied about NSA spying on US citizens communicating with US citizens while both are in the US and none is reasonably suspected of having committed any unlawful acts remotely rising to the level of "terrorism," not that I even agree that you are ultimately lawfully authorize to spy on my international communications simply because they are international. My US Constitutional rights don't disappear at the border when I'm dealing with my own national government: federal, state, or local.

Also, the American people have no way to weigh your "evidence" when we don't have any way of determining the credibility of your hidden "witnesses."

Many of us can vividly remember "Curve Ball" and what that got us: an asinine and brutal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Of course, "Curve Ball" was only one aspect of many, many falsehoods upon which the US government built its fraudulent, illegal, traitorous case to attack.

Do you remember the forged "Yellowcake" memo that the CIA told Bush and Rice was a fake but Bush slipped it back in anyway for his famous "16 Words" in his State of the Union Address that took us into war? Your administration chose to only look forward rather than back at the war criminals you let off the hook.

At least you could have found them guilty and then been merciful. That would have served truth.

I've only mentioned a tiny fraction of all the reasons not to trust you, especially on a matter so grave as attacking Syria. Plus, Syria has been pumping out just as much or more to show that the rebels/terrorists have been using chemical weapons as you've been pumping out claiming its been the Syrian government doing it. You've simply ignored Assad.

So, while I was opposed to Assad's rough and then violent approach toward the initial demonstrators (who were peaceful), I am at this point dead set against the Obama administration's policies and actions against Assad.

The only proper thing to do is to meet directly with him to come to a peaceful conclusion, to establish with him, through him, the reforms he should have instituted rather than ignoring the demonstrators.

The people of Syria, and only the people of Syria, should determine their leadership and do so through an internationally supervised election held within a very reasonable time after hostilities end at the insistence of the United Nations Security Council. If Assad wins fairly and squarely, then so be it. If not, let him retire in peace with his conscience.

EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

Rebels and local residents in Ghouta accuse Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaida linked rebel group.

By Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh | August 29, 2013

This article is a collaboration between Dale Gavlak reporting for Mint Press News and Yahya Ababneh.

Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week's chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad's guilt was "a judgment ... already clear to the world."

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack. ... [Read the full article.]

Update October 4, 2013: Information has come to light casting doubt upon the Mint Press article:

Retraction and Apology to Our Readers for Mint Press Article on Syria Gas Attack

Yahya Ababneh exposed

Those don't prove that there was no sarin in the hands of rebels who had an accident, but they are still important enough that until Yahya Ababneh is thoroughly investigated and his allegations independently substantiated, I am distancing myself from the Mint Press article.

I'm surprised this wasn't bigger news and that it didn't come to my attention sooner.

Also as a clarification, it was never my view that a single accident was responsible for the widespread sarin deaths. It would only have been an indication that the rebels had the gas and could therefore have used it in several locations as a pretext to gain US attacks on Assad's regime. Furthermore, the issue of the Saudis appears to have been misrepresented. I never took it that the Saudis were knowingly arming al Qaeda, per se, but simply Wahhabists, of which the Saudi family are supposedly members.

Lastly, let me make it absolutely clear that I am not and never have been pro-Assad. I am simply anti-war and anti-US lies as pretexts for war (and the US has lied itself into many wars and conflicts, which lies are well documented).

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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