Reasons to Doubt Latest Syrian Horror Stories
January 26, 2014
Brandon Turbeville / ActivistPost & Matthew Schofield / McClatchy
A conveniently timed report, complete with references to Nazi concentration camps, is feeding calls for a "tough line" against Syria at the upcoming Geneva II conference -- with the possibility of military intervention looming on the horizon. The evidence includes 55,000 photographs of emaciated and mutilated corpses showing signs of torture. But there are reasons to question the report since it comes from The Gulf State Feudal Monarchy Qatar, a major sponsor of the Syrian rebels.
Five Reasons The Latest Report
On Syria War Crimes Might Not Be True
Brandon Turbeville / Information Clearing House
(January 22, 2014) -- In a recently released and conveniently timed report, complete with references to Nazi Germany and concentration camps, efforts to ramp up support for a "tough line" against Syria at the upcoming Geneva II conference and even possible military intervention, are once again moving into high gear. The report, compiled by three British war crime prosecutors and three "forensic experts" claims that it has demonstrable proof that the Assad government is guilty of torturing and killing over ten thousand people.
The report (accessed here) claims to show evidence of physical torture, murder, and starvation.
Of course, the Syrian government denies the veracity of the claims of the report and Western media outlets repeat the claims as incontrovertible proof.
As Reuters reports,
A Syrian military police photographer has supplied "clear evidence" showing the systematic torture and killing of about 11,000 detainees in circumstances that evoked Nazi death camps, former war crimes prosecutors said.
Syrian officials could face war crimes charges as a result of the evidence provided by the photographer, who has defected, the three prosecutors said.
One of the prosecutors said the evidence documented "industrial scale killing" that was reminiscent of the World War II concentration camps of Belsen and Auschwitz.
The trove of harrowing photographs ratchets up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who the United States and its Western allies say has committed war crimes against his own people during the civil war.
55,000 images provided by the photographer, who fled Syria after passing the pictures to Assad's opponents, show emaciated and mutilated corpses. Bearing signs of torture, some of the corpses had no eyes. Others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.
"There is clear evidence, capable of being believed by a tribunal of fact in a court of law, of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government," the three prosecutors said in the 31-page report.
"Such evidence would support findings of crimes against humanity against the current Syrian regime. Such evidence could also support findings of war crimes against the current Syrian regime," they said.
However, while the final determination of whether or not these claims are accurate is yet to be made, there exist ample reasons to question the assertions made in the report.
1. The Gulf State Feudal Monarchy Qatar is the sponsor of the report. Qatar is, of course, one of the major sponsors of the Syrian invasion (aka the Syrian "rebels") and has played a massively important role in financing, training, arming, and directing the death squads currently being mopped up by the Assad government.
2. The source of the report. One would be justified in questioning the nature of the report since the sole source of the material comes by virtue of an allegedly "defected Syrian military police officer" who was apparently fine with photographing thousands of dead victims for over a year until now. Regardless of the possibility for such a "moral" conversion, taking information from a "defected" member of government forces once again returns us to the realm of the "activists say" school of journalism -- a notorious method used by Western media outlets to promote the side of the death squads and only the side of the death squads as fact in popular reports.
3. Past claims of Assad’s "Crimes Against Humanity." It is important to remember past experiences with Western claims against Assad for alleged "crimes against humanity," all of which turned out to have been committed by the death squads, not the Syrian government. From the Houla massacre to the Ghouta chemical weapons attacks, the Syrian government has been exonerated by all credible evidence.
The death squads, however, have been proven guilty by virtue of their own video tapes and Youtube accounts, guilty of some of the most horrific acts imaginable. While many innocent people have no doubt been killed in the crossfire between the military and the death squads, the Western media has done everything in its power to place the blood of each and every death inside Syria in the hands of the government.
Let us also not forget the other famous Codename, "Curveball," that played a major role in the initiation of a previous and still ongoing conflict that was later admitted to be a fabrication. Being fooled by the same type of propaganda twice in ten years is indeed a humiliation too great for a country to bear.
4.) Possibility that the death squads could have killed the victims shown in the report. The victims shown in the report have clearly been abused and starved. However, before jumping to conclusions about just how these unfortunate individuals met their fate, perhaps it would be a good idea to look back at the context of the victims. As mentioned earlier, the death squads operating in Syria are no strangers to crimes against humanity, murder, and torture. In fact, they have been both the initiators of such depravity and overwhelmingly the largest proprietors of it.
Furthermore, the fact that the victims were starved does not necessarily mean that they were starved by the government. Indeed, it is important to remember that, due to the siege of a number of cities by both the military and the death squads as well as due to death squad cruelty and attempted cordoning off of specific areas, food shortage has been a serious concern in some areas for some time.
There is also plentiful evidence of death squad groups killing innocent people and shipping their bodies to the places where cameras are set up, waiting for the recording of the propaganda piece. The Ghouta chemical attack is just one instance in which innocent civilians were captured and killed by the death squads and used as stage props for propaganda purposes.
Indeed, it is also important to remember that the death squads themselves are quite adept at keeping prisoners in atrocious conditions. Only a few months back, it was reported that the Syrian military was able to free a number of captive Syrian women from the hands of the death squads who had kept them in captivity in underground tunnels for months on end for the purposes of using them as sex slaves.
5.) The report was conveniently released just two days before the Geneva II Peace Conference meeting on Syria. After the retraction of an invitation to Iran to attend the peace conference, the Qatari-funded report was released just two days before the peace conference was scheduled to take place. With such evidence being studied and analyzed and a report being compiled, to believe that it was only a coincidence that the information was released two days before the conference is absurd. If this evidence was real and of such grave importance why are world leaders only learning of it now? If world leaders knew, why are we only learning of it now?
Considering all of the information provided in this article, taken in conjunction with the "convenient" timing of the release of the reports (convenient, at least, for the enemies of Syria), such reports should be taken with a large grain of salt.
The Western media has not only been wrong, but has lied on so many occasions in the past, that it cannot be expected to tell the truth now.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius -- The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 275 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville's podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. Turbeville ma be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at http://www.brandonturbeville.com
New Analysis of Rocket Used in
Syria Chemical Attack Undercuts US Claims
Matthew Schofield / McClatchy Foreign Staff
BERLIN (January 15, 2014) -- A series of revelations about the rocket believed to have delivered poison sarin gas to a Damascus suburb last summer are challenging American intelligence assumptions about that attack and suggest that the case US officials initially made for retaliatory military action was flawed.
A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated.
Separately, international weapons experts are puzzling over why the rocket in question -- an improvised 330mm to 350mm rocket equipped with a large receptacle on its nose to hold chemicals -- reportedly did not appear in the Syrian government's declaration of its arsenal to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and apparently was not uncovered by OPCW inspectors who believe they've destroyed Syria's ability to deliver a chemical attack.
Neither development proves decisively that Syrian government forces did not fire the chemicals that killed hundreds of Syrians in the early morning hours of Aug. 21. US officials continue to insist that the case for Syrian government responsibility for the attack in East Ghouta is stronger than any suggestion of rebel involvement, while experts say it is possible Syria left the rockets out of its chemical weapons declaration simply to make certain it could not be tied to the attack.
"That failure to declare can mean different things," said Ralf Trapp, an original member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and a former secretary of the group's scientific advisory board. "It can mean the Syrian government doesn't have them, or that they are hiding them."
In Washington, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said its assertion of Syrian government responsibility remains unchanged.
"The body of information used to make the assessment regarding the August 21 attack included 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. That assessment made clear that the opposition had not used chemical weapons in Syria," it said Wednesday in an email.
But the authors of a report released Wednesday said that their study of the rocket's design, its likely payload and its possible trajectories show that it would have been impossible for the rocket to have been fired from inside areas controlled by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
US Analysis of Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack Is under Fire
A new study suggests the US intelligence assessments of the August 2013 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus, Syria, were flawed. The study says the design of rocket used in the attack, its likely payload and its possible trajectories show that it would have been impossible for the rocket to have been fired from inside areas controlled by the Syrian government.
In the report, titled "Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence," Richard Lloyd, a former United Nations weapons inspector, and Theodore Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argue that the question about the rocket's range indicates a major weakness in the case for military action initially pressed by Obama administration officials.
The administration eventually withdrew its request for congressional authorization for a military strike after Syria agreed to submit to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the weapons. Polls showed overwhelming public opposition to a military strike, however, and it was doubtful Congress would have authorized an attack.
Lloyd and Postol's report is the most recent installment in a months-long debate among rocket and weapons experts, much of it carried out in detailed papers posted on the Internet, about the nature of the munitions used in the Aug. 21 attack on rebel-controlled suburbs of Damascus.
The report's authors admit that they deal only with one area of the attacks, the eastern suburb of Zamalka, where the largest quantity of sarin was released that night. They acknowledge that smaller rockets likely used in areas southwest of the capital could have come from government-controlled territory.
Relying on mathematical projections about the likely force of the rocket and noting that its design -- some have described it as a trash can on a stick -- would have made it awkward in flight, Lloyd and Postol conclude that the rocket likely had a maximum range of 2 kilometers, or just more than 1.2 miles. That range, the report explains in detail, means the rockets could not have come from land controlled by the Syrian government.
To emphasize their point, the authors used a map produced by the White House that showed which areas were under government and rebel control on Aug. 21 and where the chemical weapons attack occurred. Drawing circles around Zamalka to show the range from which the rocket could have come, the authors conclude that all of the likely launching points were in rebel-held areas or areas that were in dispute. The area securely in government hands was miles from the possible launch zones.
In an interview, Postol said that a basic analysis of the weapon -- some also have described as a looking like a push pop, a fat cylinder filled with sarin atop a thin stick that holds the engine -- would have shown that it wasn't capable of flying the 6 miles from the center of the Syrian government-controlled part of Damascus to the point of impact in the suburbs, or even the 3.6 miles from the edges of government-controlled ground.
He questioned whether US intelligence officials had actually analyzed the improbability of a rocket with such a non-aerodynamic design traveling so far before Secretary of State John Kerry declared on Sept. 3 that "we are certain that none of the opposition has the weapons or capacity to effect a strike of this scale -- particularly from the heart of regime territory."
"I honestly have no idea what happened," Postol said. "My view when I started this process was that it couldn't be anything but the Syrian government behind the attack. But now I'm not sure of anything. The administration narrative was not even close to reality. Our intelligence cannot possibly be correct."
Lloyd, who has spent the past half-year studying the weapons and capabilities in the Syrian conflict, disputed the assumption that the rebels are less capable of making rockets than the Syrian military.
"The Syrian rebels most definitely have the ability to make these weapons," he said. "I think they might have more ability than the Syrian government."
Both said they were not making a case that the rebels were behind the attack, just that a case for military action was made without even a basic understanding of what might have happened.
For instance, they said that Kerry's insistence that US satellite images had shown the impact points of the chemical weapons was unlikely to be true. The charges that detonate chemical weapons are generally so small, they said, that their detonations would not be visible in a satellite image.
The report also raised questions whether the Obama administration misused intelligence information in a way similar to the administration of President George W. Bush in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Then, US officials insisted that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had an active program to develop weapons of mass destruction. Subsequent inspections turned up no such program or weapons.
"What, exactly, are we spending all this money on intelligence for?" Postol asked.
As for the failure of the Syrians to list the rocket in its chemical weapons inventory, experts are undecided on what it means and leery about discussing it in public.
A spokeswoman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in Damascus declined to comment on what was listed in the declaration. It would violate the Chemical Weapons Convention for anyone who has read the declaration -- it's distributed to all nations that have joined the treaty -- to reveal its contents.
Knowledgeable experts said discussion of the apparent omission has been muted because no one wants to say anything that would disrupt what appears to have been the successful dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons program.
Some say they are worried that the failure to declare one delivery system may also mean that other items went undeclared.
"The most likely explanation for some of the delivery systems not showing up on the chemical declaration is that Assad doesn't want to incriminate himself or his regime," said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association.
Jonathan S. Landay in Damascus, Syria, and Hannah Allam and Anita Kumar in Washington contributed to this report.
McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.