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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/28/18

Weapons Inspector Refutes U.S. Syria Chemical Claims

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SR: The United States didn't actually bomb the site that was attacked. They bombed three other facilities. One was in the suburbs of Damascus, a major metropolitan area. The generals said that they believed there were quantities of nerve agent there. So, in a building in a densely populated area where we believe nerve agent is stored, what do we do? We blow it up! If there had in fact been nerve agent there, it would have resulted in hundreds or even thousands of deaths. That fact that nobody died is the clearest evidence yet that there was no nerve agent there. The United States is just winging it, making it up.

One of the tragedies is that we can no longer trust our military, our intelligence services, our politicians. They will manufacture whatever narrative they need to justify an action that they deem to be politically expedient.

DB: Isn't it also the case that there were problems with the allegations concerning Syria using chemical weapons in 2013 and then again in 2015? I believe The New York Times had to retract their 2013 story.

SR: They put out a story about thousands of people dying, claiming that it was definitely done by the Syrian government. It turned out later that the number of deaths was far lower and that the weapons systems used were probably in the possession of the rebels. It was a case of the rebels staging a chemical attack in order to get the world to intervene on their behalf.

A similar scenario unfolded last year when the Syrian government dropped two or three bombs on a village and suddenly there were reports that there was sarin nerve agent and chlorine gas wafting through the village, killing scores of people. Videotapes were taken of dead and dying and suffering people which prompted Trump to intervene. Inspectors never went to the site. Instead they relied upon evidence collected by the rebels.

As a weapons inspector, I can tell you that chain of custody of any samples that are to be used in the investigation is an absolute. You have to be at the site when it is collected, it has to be certified to be in your possession until the laboratory. Any break in the chain of custody makes that evidence useless for a legitimate investigation. So we have evidence collected by the rebels. They videotaped themselves carrying out the inspection, wearing training suits that would not have protected them at all from chemical weapons! Like almost everything having to do with these rebels, this was a staged event, an act of theater.

DB: Who has been supporting this particular group of rebels?

SR: On the one hand, we have the actual fighters, the Army of Islam, a Saudi-backed fundamentalist group who are extraordinarily brutal. Embedded within the fighters are a variety of Western-trained and Western-funded NGOs such as the White Helmets and the Syrian-American Medical Society. But their primary focus isn't rescue, in the case of the White Helmets, or medical care in the case of the Syrian-American Medical Society, but rather anti-regime propaganda. Many of the reports that came out of Douma originated with these two NGO's.

DB: You mentioned "chain of custody." That's what was most ridiculous about sending in inspectors. The first thing you would want to do is establish chain of custody and nail down the crime scene.

SR: I was a participant in the Gulf War and we spent the bulk of that war conducting a massive aerial campaign against Iraq. I was one of the people who helped come up with the target list that was used to attack. Each target had to have a purpose.

Let's look what happened in Syria [on April 14]. We bombed three targets, a research facility in Damascus and two bunker facilities in western Syria. It was claimed that all three targets were involved with a Syrian chemical weapons program. But the Syria weapons program was verified to be disarmed. So what chemical weapons program are we talking about? Then US officials said that one of these sites stored sarin nerve agent and chemical production equipment. That is a very specific statement. Now, if Syria was verified to be disarmed last year, with all this material eliminated, what are they talking about? What evidence do they have that any of this material exists? They just make it up.

If I had been a member of that inspections team, I would have been able to tell you with 100% certainty what took place at that site. It wasn't that long ago that the allegations took place, there are very good forensic techniques that can be applied. We would be able to reverse engineer that site and tell you exactly what happened when. Let's say an inspection team had gone in and we found that there was sarin nerve agent. Now, the US government can say, there is not supposed to be any sarin nerve agent in Syria, therefore we can state that the Syrians have a covert sarin nerve agent capability. But still you don't know where it is, so now you have to say we assess that it could be in this bunker.

We bombed empty buildings. We didn't degrade Syria's chemical weapons capability. They got rid of it. We were among the nations that certified that they had been disarmed. We just created this phantom threat out of nothing so that we could attack Syria and our president could be seen as being presidential, as being the commander in chief at a time when his credibility was being attacked on the home front.

DB: Amazing. That helps clarify the situation. Of course, it also leaves us terrified because we are so far away from the truth.

SR: As an American citizen who happens to be empowered with knowledge about how weapons inspections work, how decisions are made regarding war, I am disillusioned beyond belief.

This isn't the first time we have been lied to by the president. But we have been lied to by military officers who are supposed to be above that. Three top Marine Corps officers stood before the American people and told bald-faced lies about what was going on. We have been lied to by Congress, who are supposed to be the people's representatives who provide a check against executive overreach. And we have been lied to by the corporate media, a bunch of paid mouthpieces who repeat what the government tells them without question.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)
 

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