Thomas Wictor

Knowledge is power

Knowledge is power

Today I got a frantic message about an article by the execrable Seymour Hersh, one of the most dishonest “journalists” in the business. Titled “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” the piece claims—without presenting any evidence whatsoever—that Turkey provided the sarin nerve gas that was used in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21, 2013. Knowledge is power. When you have knowledge, you won’t be fooled by opportunistic, attention-whoring bullshitters like Seymour Hersh.

Here’s what Hersh says happened.

A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin] Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described ‘the acute anxiety’ of the Erdoğan administration about the rebels’ dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed ‘the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response’…

In the autumn, the former intelligence official went on, the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August ‘sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.’

As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular.

Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.’

Hersh therefore accuses the Turks of giving sarin to the Syrian rebels, who used it on their own people and blamed Assad. This was done in the hopes of getting the US to retaliate militarily against Assad.

According to Hersh the Turks supplied the sarin and the training in how to produce and handle it. Yet in the same article he says this.

On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that [Syrian rebels the al-Nusra Front] maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’…

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial.

So the Turks are providing sarin and training to people who already have the most advanced sarin capabilities of any terrorist group in the region. Not only the that, the Turks are both giving them sarin and arresting them for having sarin.

Besides this truly idiotic contradiction on Hersh’s part, he also says that “Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards.” This is beyond moronic. Turkish special forces took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Did you know that? No, you didn’t, because the Turks aren’t amateurs who brag about their secret missions.

Hersh’s most absurd whopper concerns the alleged military operation that President Obama wanted carried out.

Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission.

Hilarious! The entire US Air Force has ONLY two wings of B-52 bombers: the 2nd Bomb Wing and the 5th Bomb Wing. A third B-52 unit—the 307th Bomb Wing—is an Air Force Reserve Component. It’s not Active.

Hersh says that both wings of the Air Force’s B-52 fleet—all five squadrons of thirteen aircraft each—were moved closer to Syria. That’s a complete fabrication. The sarin attack happened on August 21, 2103. On August 27, 2013, one squadron of the 2nd Bomb Wing was sent to Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. On August 28 it was announced that a second B-52 squadron would return from Guam to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Guam is 6550 miles from Syria, while North Dakota is 6228 miles. We operate Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, a base 3634 miles from Syria. Yet no B-52 squadrons went to Diego Garcia or to Royal Air Force Fairford in the United Kingdom, which is only 2197 miles from Syria.

Not only did we not move two wings of B-52s closer to Syria, two of the five squadrons remained three times farther from Syria than they could’ve been. In my mind that means Hersh’s entire report is false. I don’t believe a word of it.

Besides Hersh’s contradictions, his infantile view of military matters, and his transparently false claims, here’s the only real pertinent question: Whether you support or oppose President Obama, do you honestly think he’d order all the B-52s in the US Air Force to bomb Syria?

Exactly. This song is for you, Seymour. Go fuck yourself.

This article viewed 43 times.