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Treating Anti-Syria Charges as Flat Fact

By       Message Robert Parry     Permalink
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The only logical reasons why the Obama administration would refuse to release any U.S. evidence in support of its accusations on Syria -- especially after the bogus case for invading Iraq -- is that the evidence is weak to non-existent or provided by "sources," such as Israel, Saudi Arabia or the Syrian rebels, who have a vested interest in drawing the United States into the Syrian civil war.

The UN Report

While refusing to release any of its own evidence, the Obama administration has argued that a 38-page report by UN inspectors contained indications that some non-governmental organizations and media outlets, including the New York Times, have interpreted as implicating the Syrian government.

But the UN report itself offered no findings of responsibility and actually contained information casting doubt on some U.S. claims, including finding no Sarin or other chemical weapons agents at one of two sites inspected outside Damascus. The inspectors also reported that they detected signs that people associated with the rebels had tampered with the two sites before the inspectors arrived. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Murky Clues from UN's Syria Report."]

In the field, Robert Fisk, a veteran reporter for London's Independent newspaper, found a lack of consensus among UN officials and other international observers -- despite the career risks that they faced by deviating from the conventional wisdom on Assad's guilt.

"Grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad's army," Fisk wrote. "Why, for example, would Syria wait until the UN inspectors were ensconced in Damascus on 18 August before using sarin gas little more than two days later -- and only four miles from the hotel in which the UN had just checked in?... As one Western NGO put it ... 'if Assad really wanted to use sarin gas, why for God's sake, did he wait for two years and then when the UN was actually on the ground to investigate?'"

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New evidence also has surfaced on how the U.S. government worked aggressively over the past dozen years to ensure that the leaders of key UN agencies, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will present findings in ways most favorable to U.S. policies. [See Consortiumnews.com's "How US Pressure Bends UN Agencies."]

Ideally, the role of the press corps should be to examine all such claims skeptically and to insist as much as possible that the various sides in a dispute present their evidence so the information can be carefully evaluated, especially when the issue is one of war or peace.

If a government refuses to present any evidence at all -- even hiding the facts from a legislator like Grayson who isn't just going to toe the line -- that press skepticism should be ratcheted up even higher. Instead, the New York Times on Syria does what it did during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, simply make itself available as a willing propaganda vehicle.

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http://www.consortiumnews.com

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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