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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/31/16

When Putin Bailed Out Obama

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"We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning. It needs to be across both of our governments," Clinton said.

The urgent tone reflected the reality that in early 2012, Syrian government forces were beginning to prevail in key parts of the country. Middle Eastern history and politics Professor Jeremy Salt of Bilkent University, Ankara, noted that the Syrian opposition had little hope of being effective without help from the West.

Professor Salt pointed out that Damascus had mostly been cleared of rebels and Aleppo was on its way to being cleared, with the rebels very much "on the back foot. ... that's why Hillary Clinton is in Istanbul. To ask the basic question, 'What's next?'"

Foreign affairs analyst Richard Heydarian put it this way: "What the Clinton administration [sic] is trying to do right now is try to coordinate some sort of military approach with Turkey and possibly also with the help of Israel and Arab countries because they feel the opposition has a chance to retain its stronghold in Aleppo."

These were signs of the times. Washington's hawks felt something needed to be done to stanch rebel losses, and Turkey was eager to help -- so much so that it appears likely that Turkey played a key role in enabling and coordinating the sarin false-flag attack in Ghouta a year later. [Also, see "A Call for Proof on Syria Sarin Attack."]

Evidence reported by Seymour Hersh in April 2014 in the London Review of Books implicates Turkish intelligence and extremist Syrian rebels, NOT the "Syrian regime." Hersh does his customarily thorough job of picking apart the story approved by the Establishment.

A Convenient Sarin Attack

So, sure enough, a sarin gas attack took place in Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013, a year and a day after Obama set his red line. The Washington establishment and its surrogate media stenographers immediately blamed the attack on Bashar al-Assad -- a pantomime villain whom Western media shoehorn into the same category as its other favorite bete noire, Vladimir Putin.

Of course, you would not have learned this history from reading the "mainstream media," which operated with the same sort of "group think" that is demonstrated before the disastrous invasion of Iraq, but evidence was available at the time and accumulating evidence since then has put the finger on jihadist rebels as the most likely sarin culprits. Intelligence reporting showed that they were getting sarin precursors from Europe via Turkey and making "homemade sarin."

Though the behind-the-scenes story was ignored by the major U.S. news media, Hersh reported that British intelligence officials promptly acquired a sarin sample from the debris of the Aug. 21 attack, ran it through their laboratory, and determined it NOT to be the kind of sarin in Syrian army stocks.

(Hersh holds the uncommon twin-distinction of being the quintessential investigative, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter during an earlier era of more independent American journalism and now being blacklisted from today's U.S. "mainstream media" which shuns such independence in favor of government "access" and lucrative careers. This is why he must go to the London Review of Books to get published.)

In late 2013, Hersh reported that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with Al Qaeda, had mastered the mechanics of making sarin and should have been an obvious suspect. But U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. (and a top proponent of "humanitarian" wars) Samantha Power told the media the opposite. After all, blaming the sarin attack on Assad was just what Power and the other hawks needed to push Obama into a major retaliatory strike on Syria.

Hersh noted that intelligence analysts became so upset with "the administration cherry-picking intelligence" to "justify" a strike on Assad that the analysts were "throwing their hands in the air and saying, 'How can we help this guy [Obama] when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?'"

Writing in December 2013, Hersh asked if "we have the whole story of Obama's willingness to walk away from his 'red line' threat to bomb Syria. ... It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans."

We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) tried to warn Obama shortly after the sarin attack. But we have little reason to believe that our Memoranda to the President are high on his reading list.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
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