Propaganda for a Bombing Campaign

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The distinguished journalist Seymour M. Hersh, in an article on the London Review of Books website, December 8, throws into serious question the account of the Obama administration of the use of sarin gas on August 21 by the the Assad government in Syria. Immediately afterwards, Obama proposed a bombing campaign against the Assad forces, in order to punish the regime for its violation of international law. The campaign was fortunately averted after the Syrian government accepted a plan to destroy its stock of nerve gas.

The Obama administration claimed at the time to have incontrovertible evidence that the Assad regime bore responsibility for the attack, but Hersh maintains that this claim aroused deep disquiet within the American intelligence community. The United States had in place a system of sensors able to detect movements in the Syrian government’s supply of sarin, but no such movements were detected in the days preceding the attack. In the secret briefings on military threats made available to Obama in the days before the attack, no mention of an impending attack was to be found.

The Obama administration’s assertion that it had conclusive evidence of the Syrian government’s responsibility for the sarin attack, thus, lacked any basis in contemporary evidence. The alleged evidence consisted of cherry-picked data assembled afterwards to justify the conclusion desired by the White House, namely that Syrian government troops had used sarin. This selective use of intelligence bears an all-too-close resemblance to the efforts by the Bush administration to show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Hersh also contends that the Obama administration ignored evidence that the Islamic terrorist group  al-Nusra had the ability to carry out a sarin attack . Instead, it was assumed in advance that Assad’s troops were responsible, and no competing suspects were examined.

3:49 pm on December 8, 2013