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Former CIA Officer: "The Intelligence Confirms The Russian Account On Syria"
04-09-2017, 05:46 AM,
Former CIA Officer: "The Intelligence Confirms The Russian Account On Syria"
Former CIA Officer: "The Intelligence Confirms The Russian Account On Syria"

<p><a href=""><em>Authored by Robert Parry via,</em></a></p>
<p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>President Trump earned neocon applause for his hasty decision to attack Syria and kill about a dozen Syrians, but his rash act has all the earmarks of a &ldquo;wag the dog&rdquo; moment.</strong></em></span></p>
<p>Just two days after news broke of an alleged poison-gas attack in northern Syria, President Trump brushed aside advice from some U.S. intelligence analysts doubting the Syrian regime&rsquo;s guilt and launched a lethal retaliatory missile strike against a Syrian airfield.</p>
<div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_23181" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-23181" height="200" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br />
<p class="wp-caption-text"><em>The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ford Williams)</em></p>
<p><strong>Trump immediately won plaudits from Official Washington, especially from neoconservatives </strong>who have been trying to wrestle control of his foreign policy away from his nationalist and personal advisers since the days after his surprise victory on Nov. 8.</p>
<p>There is also an internal dispute over the intelligence. On Thursday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. intelligence community assessed with a &ldquo;high degree of confidence&rdquo; that the Syrian government had dropped a poison gas bomb on civilians in Idlib province.</p>
<p>But a number of intelligence sources have made contradictory assessments, saying the preponderance of evidence suggests that Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were at fault, either by orchestrating an&nbsp;intentional release of a chemical agent as a provocation or by possessing containers of poison gas that ruptured during a conventional bombing raid.</p>
<p><strong>One intelligence source told me that the most likely scenario was a staged event by the rebels intended to force Trump to reverse a policy, announced only days earlier, that the U.S. government would no longer seek &ldquo;regime change&rdquo; in Syria and would focus on attacking the common enemy, Islamic terror groups that represent the core of the rebel forces.</strong></p>
<p>The source said the Trump national security team split between the President&rsquo;s close personal advisers, such as nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner, on one side and old-line neocons who have regrouped under National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army general who was a protégé of neocon favorite Gen. David Petraeus.</p>
<h3><u><strong>White House Infighting</strong></u></h3>
<p><strong>In this telling, the earlier ouster of retired Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and this week&rsquo;s removal of Bannon from the National Security Council were key steps in the reassertion of neocon influence inside the Trump presidency.</strong> The strange personalities and ideological extremism of Flynn and Bannon made their ousters easier, but they were obstacles that the neocons wanted removed.</p>
<p>Though Bannon and Kushner are often presented as rivals, the source said, they shared the belief that Trump should tell the truth about Syria, revealing the Obama administration&rsquo;s CIA analysis that <a href="">a fatal sarin gas attack in 2013</a> was a &ldquo;false-flag&rdquo; operation intended to sucker President Obama into fully joining the Syrian war on the side of the rebels &mdash; and the intelligence analysts&rsquo; similar beliefs about Tuesday&rsquo;s incident.</p>
<p>Instead, Trump went along with the idea of embracing <a href="">the initial rush to judgment</a> blaming Assad for the Idlib poison-gas event. The source added that Trump saw Thursday night&rsquo;s missile assault as a way to change the conversation in Washington, where his administration has been under fierce attack from Democrats claiming that his election resulted from <a href="">a Russian covert operation</a>.</p>
<p>If changing the narrative was Trump&rsquo;s goal, it achieved some initial success with several of Trump&rsquo;s fiercest neocon critics, such as neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, praising the missile strike, as did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The <a href="">neocons and Israel have long sought &ldquo;regime change&rdquo;</a> in Damascus even if the ouster of Assad might lead to a victory by Islamic extremists associated with Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State.</p>
<h3><u><strong>Wagging the Dog</strong></u></h3>
<p><strong>Trump employing a &ldquo;wag the dog&rdquo; strategy, in which he highlights his leadership on an international crisis to divert attention from domestic political problems, is reminiscent of President Bill Clinton&rsquo;s decision to attack Serbia in 1999 as impeachment clouds were building around his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.</strong></p>
<div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_22794" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-22794" height="189" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br />
<p class="wp-caption-text"><em>President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at joint press conference on Feb. 15. 2017. (Screen shot from</em></p>
<p>Trump&rsquo;s advisers, in briefing the press on Thursday night, went to great lengths to highlight Trump&rsquo;s compassion toward the victims of the poison gas and his decisiveness in bombing Assad&rsquo;s military in contrast to Obama&rsquo;s willingness to allow the intelligence community to conduct a serious review of the evidence surrounding the 2013 sarin-gas case.</p>
<p><strong>Ultimately, Obama listened to his intelligence advisers who told him there was <a href="">no &ldquo;slam-dunk&rdquo; evidence</a> implicating Assad&rsquo;s regime and he pulled back from a military strike at the last minute &ndash; while <a href="">publicly maintaining the fiction</a> that the U.S. government was certain of Assad&rsquo;s guilt.</strong></p>
<p>In both cases &ndash; 2013 and 2017 &ndash; there were strong reasons to doubt Assad&rsquo;s responsibility. In 2013, he had <a href="">just invited United Nations inspectors into Syria</a> to investigate cases of alleged rebel use of chemical weapons and thus it made no sense that he would launch a sarin attack in the Damascus suburbs, guaranteeing that the U.N. inspectors would be diverted to that case.</p>
<p>Similarly, now, Assad&rsquo;s military has gained a decisive advantage over the rebels and he had just scored a major diplomatic victory with the Trump administration&rsquo;s announcement that the U.S. was no longer seeking &ldquo;regime change&rdquo; in Syria. The savvy Assad would know that a chemical weapon attack now would likely result in U.S. retaliation and jeopardize the gains that his military has achieved with Russian and Iranian help.</p>
<p><strong>The counter-argument to this logic &ndash; made by The New York Times and other neocon-oriented news outlets &ndash; essentially maintains that Assad is a crazed barbarian who was testing out his newfound position of strength by baiting President Trump. </strong>Of course, if that were the case, it would have made sense that Assad would have boasted of his act, rather than deny it.</p>
<p>But logic and respect for facts no longer prevail inside Official Washington, nor inside the mainstream U.S. news media.</p>
<h3><u><strong>Intelligence Uprising</strong></u></h3>
<p><strong>Alarm within the U.S. intelligence community about Trump&rsquo;s hasty decision to attack Syria reverberated from the Middle East back to Washington, </strong>where former CIA officer Philip Giraldi reported hearing from his intelligence contacts in the field that they were shocked at how the new poison-gas story was being distorted by Trump and the mainstream U.S. news media.</p>
<div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_23183" style="width: 230px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-23183" height="165" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="220" /></a><br />
<p class="wp-caption-text"><em>Former CIA officer Philip Giradi. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)</em></p>
<p>Giraldi told <a href="">Scott Horton&rsquo;s Webcast</a>: <em><strong>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available who are saying that the essential narrative that we&rsquo;re all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.&rdquo;</strong></em></p>
<p>Giraldi said his sources were more in line with an analysis postulating an accidental release of the poison gas after an Al Qaeda arms depot was hit by a Russian airstrike.</p>
<p><em><strong>&ldquo;The intelligence confirms pretty much the account that the Russians have been giving &hellip; which is that they hit a warehouse where the rebels &ndash; now these are rebels that are, of course, connected with Al Qaeda &ndash; where the rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear.&rdquo;</strong></em></p>
<p>Giraldi said the anger within the intelligence community over the distortion of intelligence to justify Trump&rsquo;s military retaliation was so great that some covert officers were considering going public.</p>
<p>&ldquo;People in both the agency [the CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known &ndash; but maybe he didn&rsquo;t &ndash; and they&rsquo;re afraid that this is moving toward a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict,&rdquo; Giraldi said before Thursday night&rsquo;s missile strike. &ldquo;They are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the U.S. media.&rdquo;</p>
<h3><u><strong>One-Sided Coverage</strong></u></h3>
<p><strong>The mainstream U.S. media has presented the current crisis with the same profound neocon bias that has infected the coverage of Syria and the larger Middle East for decades. </strong>For instance, The New York Times on Friday <a href="">published a lead story</a> by Michael R. Gordon and Michael D. Shear that treated the Syrian government&rsquo;s responsibility for the poison-gas incident as flat-fact. The lengthy story did not even deign to include the denials from Syria and Russia that they were responsible for any intentional deployment of poison gas.</p>
<div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_23182" style="width: 310px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-23182" height="200" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="300" /></a><br />
<p class="wp-caption-text"><em>The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile from the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price)</em></p>
<p>The article also fit with Trump&rsquo;s desire that he be portrayed as a decisive and forceful leader. He is depicted as presiding over intense deliberations of war or peace and displaying a deep humanitarianism regarding the poison-gas victims, one of the rare moments when the Times, which has become a reliable neocon propaganda sheet, has written anything favorable about Trump at all.</p>
<p><strong>According to Syrian reports on Friday, the U.S. attack killed 13 people, including five soldiers at the airbase.</strong></p>
<p>Gordon, whose service to the neocon cause is notorious, was <a href="">the lead author</a> with Judith Miller of the Times&rsquo; bogus &ldquo;aluminum tube&rdquo; story in 2002 which falsely claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was reconstituting a nuclear-weapons program, an article that was then cited by President George W. Bush&rsquo;s aides as a key argument for invading Iraq in 2003.</p>
<p>Regarding this week&rsquo;s events, Trump&rsquo;s desperation to reverse his negative media coverage and the dubious evidence blaming Assad for the Idlib incident could fit with the &ldquo;Wag the Dog&rdquo; movie from 1997 in which an embattled president creates a phony foreign crisis in Albania.</p>
<div class="wp-caption alignright" id="attachment_21412" style="width: 276px;"><a class="image-anchor" href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-21412" height="190" src="" style="display: inline-block;" width="266" /></a><br />
<p class="wp-caption-text"><em>A fake war scene in the dark 1997 comedy &ldquo;Wag the Dog,&rdquo; which showed a girl and her cat fleeing a bombardment in Albania.</em></p>
<p>In the movie, the White House operation is a <a href="">cynical psychological operation</a> to convince the American people that innocent Albanian children, including an attractive girl carrying a cat, are in danger when, In reality, the girl was an actor posing before a green screen that allowed scenes of fiery ruins to be inserted as background.</p>
<p><em><strong>Today, because Trump and his administration are now committed to convincing Americans that Assad really was responsible for Tuesday&rsquo;s poison-gas tragedy, the prospects for a full and open investigation are effectively ended. We may never know if there is truth to those allegations or whether we are being manipulated by another &ldquo;wag the dog&rdquo; psyop.</strong></em></p>

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