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Doubts regarding who used chemical weapons in Syria

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On Friday, the White House released an intelligence report assessing “with high confidence” that chemical weapons were used in Syria on civilians by the Syrian government. There are serious doubts both within U.S. intelligence agencies and the international community as to whether this allegation is accurate.

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It is fairly evident that some sort of nerve gas was released on August 21 in Ghouta, near Damascus. The real question is: Who released it? The U.S. claims it was fired by the Syrian government with rockets and artillery. Independent and foreign media outlets and the governments of other nations claim otherwise.

Based on numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, many people at the scene believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the deadly gas attack.

According to survivors of the attack, some of which are rebels, 13 rebels were asked to carry weapons by a Saudi militant known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The weapons were described as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.” The weapons were stored in tunnels.

The rebels were not told what the weapons were or how to use them. A rebel interviewed by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Abaneh said, “When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them.” Another rebel said, “We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.”

The above information has been reported in dozens of foreign media outlets, including the Voice of Russia, yet the U.S. mainstream media remains silent on the matter.

U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces. In intelligence jargon, “high confidence” does not mean certainty. The uncertainty calls into question the statements by Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama.

In a briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf admitted that intelligence agencies do not know who gave the order to use chemical weapons, even if they were deployed by the Syrian government. Harf said. "I don't know what the facts are here. I'm just, broadly speaking, saying that he is responsible for the actions of his regime.”

Multiple U.S. officials used the phrase “not a slam dunk” to describe the intelligence picture - a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a “slam dunk” - intelligence that turned out to be wrong.

The British Parliament voted against participating in any strikes on Syria because while advocating military action, Prime Minister David Cameron had to admit that there was "no 100 percent certainty" about who was responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Syria. France, Germany, Canada, Italy and the Arab League have also declined to lend military assistance to a U.S. strike on Syria, citing uncertainties for the same reasons.

Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL), however, pointed out that opposition to a strike on Syria is not universally opposed:

I did notice, for what it's worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they're not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign. Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex.

So, even though President Obama said he will “go it alone” he will still have Raytheon and Lockheed Martin behind him (see slideshow). According to Grayson, the "pressure" to strike Syria comes from corporations which profit from war, including private central banks, and corporations which make the instruments of war – not from the so-called “red line” that was supposedly crossed with use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.

The official story that Assad was stupid enough to invite U.N. chemical weapons inspectors into Syria, then launch a chemical weapon attack against women and children on the day they arrive, never made any sense. Furthermore, a U.S. strike could not take out chemical weapons without dispersing them and causing more civilian casualties.

The fastest way to bring down a dictator is to force them to act like one where everyone can see it. Presidents in their final term of office are supposed to be thinking about their legacy. If Syria is attacked on the basis of a lie known to the world to be a lie even before the war starts, without the support of the American people and the international community, President Obama may forge his legacy as a dictator trying to force his will on the rest of the world.

Our leaders are supposed to work for we the people, and we the people are giving you your instructions loud and clear – no more unnecessary wars.

Sources:

MSNBC – US Government Assessment

Mint Press News

Voice of Russia

Foreign Policy magazine

Talking Points Memo

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Huffington Post

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