“President Trump should make his case in front of the American people and allow their elected representatives to debate the benefits and risks of further Middle East intervention to our national security interests.” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
What we know to be FACTS:
- On 4 April 2017, the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib province, was struck by a heavy airstrike followed by massive civilian chemical (sarin nerve gas) poisoning, including children.
- At the time of the attack the town was under the control of Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front — a Sunni Islamist terrorist organization fighting against Syrian Government forces in the Syrian Civil War, with the aim of establishing an Islamist state in the country.
- President Donald Trump, the U.S. Pentagon, and the UK (in the person of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson) blamed the attack on the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Russian and Syrian governments said it was caused by the Syrian Air Force’s destruction of a nearby rebel-operated chemical weapons warehouse.
- In the early morning hours of April 7, 2017, the Trump administration fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from a U.S. destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea, at Shayrat Air Base in Syria,said to be the location from where the Assad government allegedly had launched the April 4 chemical attack.
A couple of points to keep in mind:
- At the time of the alleged chemical attack, things were going well for the Assad government in its efforts to combat the Syrian “rebels,” among whom is the al-Nusra Front. In other words, there was no reason for the Assad government to launch a chemical attack against the “rebels”.
- From 2013, when Obama and Congress had agitated to attack the Syrian government because of the latter’s alleged deployment of chemical weapons, Assad knows well the U.S. would go berserk if he were to launch a chemical attack.
Two former U.S. intelligence officials are speaking out about what they know and believe about the April 4 “chemical attack” on the town in Idlib. They are:
- Walter Patrick “Pat” Lang, Jr., 76, a former U.S. Army officer who left the army with the rank of Colonel, then worked as a high-level civilian intelligence analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at the equivalent rank of a lieutenant general, specializing in the Middle East and South Asia. Lang is now a commentator on the Middle East, private intelligence analyst, and author.
- Ray McGovern, a retired CIA analyst from the administration of John Kennedy to that of George H.W. Bush, and prepared the President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Both Lang and McGovern maintain that:
- On April 4, the Assad government undertook a conventional (not chemical) air strike at a rebel-held weapons/explosives depot in Idlib.
- The Assad government had notified the Trump administration of its intended strike.
- Unbeknown to the Assad government, the weapons depot contained deadly chemicals — of organic phosphates and chlorine (not sarin).
- The explosion of the depot released the chemicals into the air, which was carried by a strong wind to a nearby town, Khan Shaykhun, and killed civilians.
Below are the respective analyses of Lang and McGovern, originally published on Intel Today, a website that is less than a year old, founded last July. My guess is Intel Today is a forum of retired and/or active “white hats” U.S. intelligence officials.
Donald Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie. In the coming days the American people will learn that the Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib. Here is what happened.
- The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.
- The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believed was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamic rebels.
- The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.
- There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.
- We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you. How do I know? I went through “Live Agent” training at Fort McClellan in Alabama.
There are members of the U.S. military who were aware this strike would occur and it was recorded. There is a film record. At least the Defense Intelligence Agency knows that this was not a chemical weapon attack. In fact, Syrian military chemical weapons were destroyed with the help of Russia.
This is Gulf of Tonkin 2. How ironic. Donald Trump correctly castigated George W. Bush for launching an unprovoked, unjustified attack on Iraq in 2003. Now we have President Donald Trump doing the same damn thing. Worse in fact. Because the intelligence community had information showing that there was no chemical weapon launched by the Syrian Air Force.
Here’s the good news. The Russians and Syrians were informed, or at least were aware, that the attack was coming. They were able to remove a large number of their assets. The base the United States hit was something of a backwater. Donald Trump gets to pretend that he is a tough guy. He is not. He is a fool.
This attack was violation of international law. Donald Trump authorized an unjustified attack on a sovereign country. What is even more disturbing is that people like Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and NSA Director General McMaster went along with this charade. Front line troops know the truth. These facts will eventually come out. Donald Trump will most likely not finish his term as President. He will be impeached, I believe, once Congress is presented with irrefutable proof that he ignored and rejected intelligence that did not support the myth that Syria attacked with chemical weapons.
It should also alarm American taxpayers that we launched $100 million dollars [Note: the cost is more likely $114.5 million, based on the per-unit cost of Tomahawk cruise missile] of missiles to blow up sand and camel shit. The Russians were aware that a strike was coming. I’m hoping that they and the Syrians withdrew their forces and aircraft from the base. Whatever hope I had that Donald Trump would be a new kind of President, that hope is extinguished. He is a child and a moron. He committed an act of war without justification. But the fault is not his alone. Those who sit atop the NSC, the DOD, the CIA, the Department of State should have resigned in protest. They did not. They are complicit in a war crime.
Syrian aircraft ‘knew’ there was a weapons cache in this particular rebel-held area. That was correct, and the Syrian aircraft bombed it.
What seems not to have been known was the existence nearby of a large storage facility for chemicals. That too was damaged, releasing a cloud of chemicals that the wind blew south and poisoned those villagers.
Here is what most likely happened:
The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.
The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believes was a weapons and explosives depot for Islamic rebels.
The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.
There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.
We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you.
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