Assessment of the WH Intelligence Report About the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria

11 April 2017

A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report 
Issued on April 11, 2017 
About the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. 

Theodore A. Postol 
Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Dear Larry:


I am responding to your distribution of what I understand is a White House statement claiming intelligence findings about the nerve agent attack on April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. My understanding from your note is that this White House intelligence summary was released to you sometime on April 11, 2017.

I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4.

This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment, is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.

However, if one assumes, as does the White House, that the source of the sarin was from this location and that the location was not tampered with, the most plausible conclusion is that the sarin was dispensed by an improvised dispersal device made from a 122 mm section of rocket tube filled with sarin and capped on both sides.

The only undisputable facts stated in the White House report is the claim that a chemical attack using nerve agent occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria on that morning. Although the White House statement repeats this point in many places within its report, the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity.

The report instead repeats observations of physical effects suffered by victims that with very little doubt indicate nerve agent poisoning.

The only source the document cites as evidence that the attack was by the Syrian government is the crater it claims to have identified on a road in the North of Khan Shaykhun.
I have located this crater using Google Earth and there is absolutely no evidence that the crater was created by a munition designed to disperse sarin after it is dropped from an aircraft.

The Google Earth map shown in Figure 1 at the end of this text section shows the location of that crater on the road in the north of Khan Shaykhun, as described in the White House statement.

The data cited by the White House is more consistent with the possibility that the munition was placed on the ground rather than dropped from a plane. This conclusion assumes that the crater was not tampered with prior to the photographs. However, by referring to the munition in this crater, the White House is indicating that this is the erroneous source of the data it used to conclude that the munition came from a Syrian aircraft.

Analysis of the debris as shown in the photographs cited by the White House clearly indicates that the munition was almost certainly placed on the ground with an external detonating explosive on top of it that crushed the container so as to disperse the alleged load of sarin.

Since time appears to be of the essence here, I have put together the summary of the evidence I have that the White House report contains false and misleading conclusions in a series of figures that follow this discussion. Each of the figures has a description below it, but I will summarize these figures next and wait for further inquiries about the basis of the conclusions I am putting forward herein.

Figure 1 shows a Google Earth image of the northeast corner of Khan Shaykhun where the crater identified as the source of the sarin attack and referred to in the White House intelligence report is located.
Also shown in the Google Earth image is the direction of the wind from the crater. At 3 AM the wind was going directly to the south at a speed of roughly 1.5 to 2.5 m/s. By 6 AM the wind was moving to the southeast at 1 to 2 m/s. The temperature was also low, 50 to 55°F near the ground. These conditions are absolutely ideal for a nerve agent attack.

When the temperature near the ground is low, and there is no sun and very slow winds, the dense cool air stays close to the ground and there is almost no upward motion of the air. This condition causes any particles, droplets, or clouds of dispersed gas to stay close to the ground as the surrounding air moves over the ground. We perceive this motion as a gentle breeze on a calm morning before sunrise.

One can think of a cloud of sarin as much like a cloud of ink generated by an escaping octopus. The ink cloud sits in the water and as the water slowly moves, so does the cloud. As the cloud is moved along by the water, it will slowly spread in all directions as it moves. If the layer of water where the ink is embedded moves so as to stay close to the ocean floor, the cloud will cover objects as it moves with the water.

This is the situation that occurs on a cool night before sunrise when the winds move only gently.

Figures 5 and 6 show tables that summarize the weather at 3 hour intervals in Khan Shaykun on the day of the attack, April 4, the day before the attack, April 3, and the day after the attack, April 5. The striking feature of the weather is that there were relatively high winds in the morning hours on both April 3 and April 5.  If the gas attack were executed either the day before or the day after in the early morning, the attack would have been highly ineffective. The much higher winds would have dispersed the cloud of nerve agent and the mixing of winds from higher altitudes would have caused the nerve agent to be carried aloft from the ground. It is therefore absolutely clear that the time and day of the attack was carefully chosen and was no accident.

Figure 2 shows a high quality photograph of the crater identified in the White House report as the source of the sarin attack. Assuming that there was no tampering of evidence at the crater, one can see what the White House is claiming as a dispenser of the nerve agent.

The dispenser looks like a 122 mm pipe like that used in the manufacture of artillery rockets.

As shown in the close-up of the pipe in the crater in Figure 3, the pipe looks like it was originally sealed at the front end and the back end. Also of note is that the pipe is flattened into the crater, and also has a fractured seam that was created by the brittle failure of the metal skin when the pipe was suddenly crushed inward from above.

Figure 4 shows the possible configuration of an improvised sarin dispersal device that could have been used to create the crater and the crushed carcass of what was originally a cylindrical pipe. A good guess of how this dispersal mechanism worked (again, assuming that the crater and carcass were not staged, as assumed in the White House report) was that a slab of high explosive was placed over one end of the sarin-filled pipe and detonated.

The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallet. It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater. Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the

pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end. This mechanism of dispersal is essentially the same as hitting a toothpaste tube with a large mallet, which then results in the tube failing and the toothpaste being blown in many directions depending on the exact way the toothpaste skin ruptures.

If this is in fact the mechanism used to disperse the sarin, this indicates that the sarin tube was placed on the ground by individuals on the ground and not dropped from an airplane.

Figure 8 shows the improvised sarin dispenser along with a typical 122 mm artillery rocket and the modified artillery rocket used in the sarin attack of August 21, 2013 in Damascus.

At that time (August 30, 2013) the Obama White House also issued an intelligence report containing obvious inaccuracies. For example, that report stated without equivocation that the sarin carrying artillery rocket used in Damascus had been fired from Syrian government controlled areas. As it turned out, the particular munition used in that attack could not go further than roughly 2 km, very far short of any boundary controlled by the Syrian government at that time. The White House report at that time also contained other critical and important errors that might properly be described as amateurish. For example, the report claimed that the locations of the launch and impact of points of the artillery rockets were observed by US satellites. This claim was absolutely false and any competent intelligence analyst would have known that. The rockets could be seen from the Space-Based Infrared Satellite (SBIRS) but the satellite could absolutely not see the impact locations because the impact locations were not accompanied by explosions. These errors were clear indicators that the White House intelligence report had in part been fabricated and had not been vetted by competent intelligence experts.

This same situation appears to be the case with the current White House intelligence report. No competent analyst would assume that the crater cited as the source of the sarin attack was unambiguously an indication that the munition came from an aircraft. No competent analyst would assume that the photograph of the carcass of the sarin canister was in fact a sarin canister. Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real. No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it. All of these highly amateurish mistakes indicate that this White House report, like the earlier Obama White House Report, was not properly vetted by the intelligence community as claimed.

I have worked with the intelligence community in the past, and I have grave concerns about the politicization of intelligence that seems to be occurring with more frequency in recent times – but I know that the intelligence community has highly capable analysts in it. And if those analysts were properly consulted about the claims in the White House document they would have not approved the document going forward.

I am available to expand on these comments substantially. I have only had a few hours to quickly review the alleged White House intelligence report. But a quick perusal shows without a lot of analysis that this report cannot be correct, and it also appears that this report was not properly vetted by the intelligence community.

This is a very serious matter.

President Obama was initially misinformed about supposed intelligence evidence that Syria was the perpetrator of the August 21, 2013 nerve agent attack in Damascus. This is a matter of public record. President Obama stated that his initially false understanding was that the intelligence clearly showed that Syria was the source of the nerve agent attack. This false information was corrected when the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, interrupted the President while he was in an intelligence briefing. According to President Obama, Mr. Clapper told the President that the intelligence that Syria was the perpetrator of the attack was “not a slamdunk.”

The question that needs to be answered by our nation is how was the president initially misled about such a profoundly important intelligence finding? A second equally important question is how did the White House produce an intelligence report that was obviously flawed and amateurish that was then released to the public and never corrected? The same false information in the intelligence report issued by the White House on August 30, 2013 was emphatically provided by Secretary of State John Kerry in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee!

We again have a situation where the White House has issued an obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report.

The Congress and the public have been given reports in the name of the intelligence community about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, technical evidence supposedly collected by satellite systems that any competent scientists would know is false, and now from photographs of the crater that any analyst who has any competent at all would not trust as evidence.

It is late in the evening for me, so I will end my discussion here.

I stand ready to provide the country with any analysis and help that is within my power to supply. What I can say for sure herein is that what the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security.


FIGURES: [Click on the images for a bigger view]











PDFhttp://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Postol-SyriaReport.pdf

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Addendum to Original Assessment Report

This addendum is a follow-up to the report A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 about the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. The full “Quick Turnaround” was written on the evening of April 11 after a quick review of the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on the same day.
This addendum provides data that unambiguously shows that the assumption in the WHR that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct. This egregious error raises questions about every other claim in the WHR.
As noted in the main body of my earlier report, the assumption in WHR that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with was totally unjustified and no competent intelligence analyst would have agreed that this assumption was valid. The implication of this observation is clear – the WHR was not reviewed and released by any competent intelligence expert unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report.
The WHR also makes claims about “communications intercepts” which supposedly provide high confidence that the Syrian government was the source of the attack. There is no reason to believe that the veracity of this claim is any different from the now verified false claim that there was unambiguous evidence of a sarin release at the cited crater.
The White House intelligence report states that:
The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin.
It also contains additional assertions that were key elements for underpinning its claim of a high confidence assessment:
We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting, that tells a clear and consistent story.
An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun [Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.
… observed munition remnants at the crater and staining around the impact point are consistent with a munition that functioned.
Last November, for instance, senior Russian officials used an image from a widely publicized regime chemical weapons attack in 2013 on social media platforms to publicly allege chemical weapons use by the opposition.
The evidence that unambiguously shows that the assumption that the sarin release crater was tampered with is contained in six photographs at the end of this document.
Figure A-1 shows a man standing in the alleged sarin-release crater. He is wearing a honeycomb facemask that is designed to filter small particles from the air. Other apparel on him is an open necked cloth shirt and what appear to be medical exam gloves.
Two other men are standing in front of him (on the left in the photograph) also wearing honeycomb facemask’s and medical exam gloves.
If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin.
The fact that these people were dressed so inadequately either suggests a complete ignorance of the basic measures needed to protect an individual from sarin poisoning, or that they knew that the site was not seriously contaminated.
This is the crater that is the centerpiece evidence provided in the WHR for a sarin attack delivered by a Syrian aircraft.
Figure A-2 shows the location of the crater on a Google Earth map of the Northeast part of Khan Sheikun. The white arrow labeled camera direction indicates the bore site of the camera when the photograph was taken. The white dot connected to a line shows the approximate location of the camera when the photo was taken. The direction the camera is looking is North Northeast.
Figure A-3 shows a photograph of the same street and crater when it is unoccupied by people. This photograph is taken from a slightly greater distance away from the crater but the bore site of the camera is in the same direction – North Northeast.
Figure A-4 shows the crater, probably shortly after the tampering occurred that is documented in Figure A-1.
The camera bore site is downward into the crater and its azimuth is roughly East Northeast. Note that the surgical gloves that can be seen on the ground behind the man in the crater in Figure A-1 can be seen almost unmoved in the photograph shown in Figure A-4. This strongly suggests that the photograph was taken a relatively short time after the tampering occurred.
Figure A-5 shows the crater at a time that may have been before the tampering occurred. The bottom of the crater looks rather different and the piece of pipe, which is clearly lying on top of the bottom of the crater in Figure A-4, now appears to be partially buried. The photograph in Figure A-5 is taken with the bore site of the camera looking roughly west.
Figure A-6 shows a photograph of the crater, probably taken at about the same time as the photo in Figure A-5, with the azimuth of the bore site of the camera looking Southwest.
Summary and Conclusions from the Data
We repeat here a quote from the WHR:
An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun [Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.
The data provided in these photographs make it clear that the WHR made no serious attempt to collect data that would support its “confident assessment” that there was data to unambiguously support a conclusion that the Syrian government executed a sarin attack as indicated by the location and characteristics of the crater. This does not appear to be a mistake.
It is hard for me to believe that anybody competent could have been involved in producing the WHR report and the implications of such an obviously predetermined result strongly suggests that this report was not motivated by a serious analysis of any kind.
This finding is disturbing. It indicates that the WHR was probably a report purely aimed at justifying actions that were not supported by any legitimate intelligence.
This is not a unique situation. President George W. Bush has argued that he was misinformed about unambiguous evidence that Iraq was hiding a substantial amount of weapons of mass destruction. This false intelligence led to a US attack on Iraq that started a process that ultimately led to a political disintegration in the Middle East, which through a series of unpredicted events then led to the rise of the Islamic State. On August 30, 2013, the White House produced a similarly false report about the nerve agent attack on August 21, 2013 in Damascus. This report also contained numerous intelligence claims that could not be true. An interview with President Obama published in The Atlantic in April 2016 indicates that Obama was initially told that there was solid intelligence that the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Ghouta, Syria. Obama reported that he was later told that the intelligence was not solid by the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
Equally serious questions are raised about the abuse of intelligence findings by the incident in 2013. Questions that have not been answered about that incident is how the White House produced a false intelligence report with false claims that could obviously be identified by experts outside the White House and without access to classified information. There also needs to be an explanation of why this 2013 false report was not corrected. Secretary of State John Kerry emphatically testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee repeating information in this so-called un-equivocating report.
On August 30, 2013 Secretary of State Kerry made the following statement from the Treaty Room in the State Department:
Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack [Emphasis added], and I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves.
It is now obvious that a second incident similar to what happened in the Obama administration has now occurred in the Trump administration.
In this case, the president, supported by his staff, made a decision to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. This action was accompanied by serious risks of creating a confrontation with Russia, and also undermining cooperative efforts to win the war against the Islamic State.
Prior to these two inexplicable false intelligence reports, we had the incident in the Bush administration that led us to make decisions that we are still trying to deal with today.
I therefore conclude that there needs to be a comprehensive investigation of these events that have either misled people in the White House White House, or worse yet, been perpetrated by people seeking to force decisions that were not justified by the cited intelligence.
This is a serious matter and should not be allowed to continue.
Figures and Diagrams
Figure A-1

Figure A-2

Figure A-3

Figure A-4

Figure A-5

SOURCE |
http://www.unz.com/article/the-nerve-agent-attack-in-khan-shaykhun-syria/

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Prof Theodore POSTOL's 3rd REPORT  


Header section of the report

This is my third report assessing the White House intelligence Report of April 11, 2017.  My first report was titled A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 about the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria and my second report was an Addendum to the first report.

This report provides unambiguous evidence that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) of April 11, 2017 contains false and misleading claims that could not possibly have been accepted in any professional review by impartial intelligence experts. The WHR was produced by the National Security Council under the oversight of the National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster. 





The WHR asserts that it reviewed commercial video evidence and concluded that sarin came from the crater next to a man. Other video frames show unprotected workers in the crater showing no evidence of sarin poisoning at the same time the dead birds are being packaged. The URLs to this and a related video are contained in this report.

The evidence presented herein is from two selected videos which are part of a larger cache of videos that are available on YouTube. These videos were uploaded to YouTube in the time period between April 5, 2017 and April 7, 2017. Analysis of the videos shows that all of the scenes taken at the site where the WHR claims was the location of a sarin release indicate significant tampering with the site. Since these videos were available roughly one week before the White House report was issued on April 11, this indicates that the office of the WHR made no attempt to utilize the professional intelligence community to obtain accurate data in support of the findings in the report.

The video evidence shows workers at the site roughly 30 hours after the alleged attack that were wearing clothing with the logo “Idlib Health Directorate.” These individuals were photographed putting dead birds from a birdcage into plastic bags. The implication of these actions was that the birds had died after being placed in the alleged sarin crater. However, the video also shows the same workers inside and around the same crater with no protection of any kind against sarin poisoning.

These individuals were wearing honeycomb face masks and medical exam gloves. They were otherwise dressed in normal streetwear and had no protective clothing of any kind.

The honeycomb face masks would provide absolutely no protection against either sarin vapors or sarin aerosols. The masks are only designed to filter small particles from the air. If there were sarin vapor, it would be inhaled without attenuation by these individuals. If the sarin were in an aerosol form, the aerosol would have condensed into the pours in the masks, and would have evaporated into a highly lethal gas as the individuals inhaled through the mask. It is difficult to believe that such health workers, if they were health workers, would be so ignorant of these basic facts.

In addition, other people dressed as health workers were standing around the crater without any protection at all.

As noted in my earlier reports, the assumption in WHR that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with was totally unjustified and no competent intelligence analyst would have agreed that this assumption was valid. The implication of this observation is clear – the WHR was not reviewed and released by any competent intelligence experts unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report.

The WHR also makes claims about “communications intercepts” which supposedly provide high confidence that the Syrian government was the source of the attack. There is no reason to believe that the veracity of this claim is any different from the now verified false claim that there was unambiguous evidence of a sarin release at the cited crater.

The relevant quotes from the WHR are collected below for purposes of reference:


The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib Province on April 4, 2017. 
We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting 
We cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods, but the following includes an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of this attack. 
By 12:15 PM [April4, 2017] local time, broadcasted local videos included images of dead children of varying ages.
… at 1:10 PM [April4, 2017] local … follow-on videos showing the bombing of a nearby hospital …

Commercial satellite imagery from April 6 showed impact craters around the hospital that are consistent with open source reports of a conventional attack on the hospital after the chemical attack.
Moscow has since claimed that the release of chemicals was caused by a regime airstrike on a terrorist ammunition depot in the eastern suburbs of Khan Shaykhun. 
An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed [Emphasis Added]—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, [Emphasis Added] after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video. 
Observed munition remnants at the crater and staining around the impact point are consistent with a munition that functioned, but structures nearest to the impact crater did not sustain damage that would be expected from a conventional high-explosive payload. Instead, the damage is more consistent with a chemical munition.
Russia’s allegations fit with a pattern of deflecting blame from the regime and attempting to undermine the credibility of its opponents.

Summary and Conclusions


It is now clear from video evidence that the WHR report was fabricated without input from the professional intelligence community.

The press reported on April 4 that a nerve agent attack had occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria during the early morning hours locally on that day. On April 7, The United States carried out a cruise missile attack on Syria ordered by President Trump. It now appears that the president ordered this cruise missile attack without any valid intelligence to support it.

In order to cover up the lack of intelligence to supporting the president’s action, the National Security Council produced a fraudulent intelligence report on April 11 four days later. The individual responsible for this report was Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor. The McMaster report is completely undermined by a significant body of video evidence taken after the alleged sarin attack and before the US cruise missile attack that unambiguously shows the claims in the WHR could not possibly be true. This cannot be explained as a simple error.

The National Security Council Intelligence Report clearly refers to evidence that it claims was obtained from commercial and open sources shortly after the alleged nerve agent attack (on April 5 and April 6). If such a collection of commercial evidence was done, it would have surely found the videos contained herein.

This unambiguously indicates a dedicated attempt to manufacture a false claim that intelligence actually supported the president’s decision to attack Syria, and of far more importance, to accuse Russia of being either complicit or a participant in an alleged atrocity.

The attack on the Syrian government threatened to undermine the relationship between Russia and the United States. Cooperation between Russia and the United States is critical to the defeat of the Islamic State. In addition, the false accusation that Russia knowingly engaged in an atrocity raises the most serious questions about a willful attempt to do damage relations with Russia for domestic political purposes.

We repeat here a quote from the WHR:

An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun [Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.


The data provided in these videos make it clear that the WHR made no good-faith attempt to collect data that could have supported its “confident assessment.” that the Syrian government executed a sarin attack as indicated by the location and characteristics of the crater.

This very disturbing event is not a unique situation. President George W. Bush argued that he was misinformed about unambiguous evidence that Iraq was hiding a substantial store of weapons of mass destruction. This false intelligence led to a US attack on Iraq that started a process that ultimately led to the political disintegration in the Middle East, which through a series of unpredicted events then led to the rise of the Islamic State.

On August 30, 2013, the White House produced a similarly false report about the nerve agent attack on August 21, 2013 in Damascus. This report also contained numerous intelligence claims that could not be true. An interview with President Obama published in The Atlantic in April 2016 indicates that Obama was initially told that there was solid intelligence that the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Ghouta, Syria. Obama reported that he was later told that the intelligence was not solid by the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Equally serious questions are raised about the abuse of intelligence findings by the incident in 2013. Questions that have not been answered about that incident is how the White House produced a false intelligence report with false claims that could obviously be identified by experts outside the White House and without access to classified information. There also needs to be an explanation of why this 2013 false report was not corrected. Secretary of State John Kerry emphatically testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee repeating information in this so-called un-equivocating report.

On August 30, 2013 Secretary of State Kerry made the following statement from the Treaty Room in the State Department:

Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack [Emphasis added], and I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves.


It is now obvious that this incident produced by the WHR, while just as serious in terms of the dangers it created for US security, was a clumsy and outright fabrication of a report that was certainly not supported by the intelligence community.

In this case, the president, supported by his staff, made a decision to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. This action was accompanied by serious risks of creating a confrontation with Russia, and also undermining cooperative efforts to win the war against the Islamic State.

I therefore conclude that there needs to be a comprehensive investigation of these events that have either misled people in the White House White House, or worse yet, been perpetrated by people to protect themselves from domestic political criticisms for uninformed and ill-considered actions.



Sincerely yours, Theodore A. Postol


Professor Emeritus of Science,

Technology, and National Security Policy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Email: postol@mit.edu
Video Evidence That Reveals the White House Intelligence Report
Issued on April 11, 2017 Contains Demonstrably False Claims about a Sarin Dispersal Crater Allegedly Created
in the April 4, 2017 Attack in Khan Sheikoun, Syria
VIDEO #1:
Dead Birds Video:


video

(This same video can also be found here, on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qeosawyrgyo_

[Screen shoots from the video]


VIDEO # 2:
Idlib Health Directorate Tampering with Alleged Sarin Dispersal Site Video
video

[This same video can also be found here on youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyFAl2gjZJQ ]

[Screen shots from the second video]
[Screenshots from the 2nd Video]
Please Note:
PDF version of this 3rd report can be found and dowloaded from here:
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Video-Evidence-of-False-Claims-Made-in-the-White-House-Intelligence-Report-of-April-11-2017_April142017_.pdf

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RELATED ARTICLE by Moon of Alabama:

The White House "Intelligence Assessment" Is No-Such-Thing - It Shows Support for Al-Qaeda


The Trump White House published three and a half pages of accusations against the governments of Syria and Russia. These are simple white pages with no header or footer, no date, no classification or declassification marks, no issuing agency and no signatures. It is indiscernible who has written them.

U.S. media call this a Declassified U.S. Report on Chemical Weapons Attack. It is no such thing.

It starts with "The United States is confident that the Syrian government conducted a chemical weapon attack, ..."


The U.S. (who exactly is that?) "is confident", it does not "know", it does not have "proof" - it is just "confident".


The whole paper contains only seven paragraphs that are allegedly a "Summary of the U.S. intelligence community assessment" on the issue. The seven paragraphs are followed by eight(!) paragraphs that try to refute the Russian and Syrian statements on the issue. Some political fluff makes up the sorry rest.


That "intelligence community assessment" chapter title is likely already a false claim. Even a fast tracked, preliminary National Intelligence Assessment, for which all seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies must be heard, takes at least two to three weeks to create. A "long track" full assessment takes two month or more. These are official documents issued by the Director of National Intelligence. The summary assessment the White House releases has no such heritage. It is likely a well massaged fast write up of some flunky in the National Security Council. The release was backgrounded by dubious statements of an anonymous "Senior Administration Officials" (not by "Intelligence Officials" as has been the case on other such issues.)


The claimed assessment starts with definitely wrong or at least very misleading point: "We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in Hama province that threatened key infrastructure."


The Hama offensive had failed two weeks ago. Since then the Syrian army has regained all areas the al-Qaeda "opposition" had captured during the first few days. (Al-Qaeda in Syria renamed itself several times and now calls itself "Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham".) Key infrastructure had never been seriously threatened by it. Over 2,000 al-Qaeda fighters were killed in the endeavor.


Peto Lucem, a well known and reliable media source for accurate maps of the war on Syria, posted on March 31, four days before the chemical incident:
Peto Lucem @PetoLucemNEW MAP: "Rebel" frontline in #Hama is collapsing, #SAA reverses most #AlQaeda gains made in first days of their failed offensive. #Syria


The attack in Hama had already failed days before the chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun happened. Khan Shaykhun is not on the front line. The incident and the failed al-Qaeda attack in Hama can not possibly be related. It makes no sense at all to launch a militarily useless incident in a place far away "in response" to a defeat of the enemy elsewhere - this in a moment where the global political and military situation had turned in favor of the Syrian government. (The Defense Intelligence Agency surely never signed off on such an illogical claim.)


The following paragraphs of the released paper reveal that the assessment is largely based on a "significant body" of "open source reporting" which "indicates" this or that. This means that the White House relied on pictures and videos posted by people who are allowed to operate freely in the al-Qaeda ruled Khan Shaykhun. (Khan Shaikhun had been in the hands of an Islamic State associated group Liwa Al-Aqsa until mid February. The group moved out after fighting al-Qaeda and after slaughtering some 150 of its fighters. Al-Qaeda since moved in and now rules the town and surrounding areas.)


Several of the released video were introduced and commented by Dr. Shajul Islam who has been removed from the British medical registry and had been indicted in the UK for his role in kidnapping "western" journalists in Syria. He fled back to Syria. One of the journalists kidnapped with the help of Dr. Shajul Islam, James Foley, was later murdered on camera by the Islamic State. The videos the "doctor" distributed of "rescue" of casualties of the chemical incidents were not of real emergencies but staged. Under who's conditions and directions where the many other pictures and videos taken and published? Why are no female children or young women among the emergency patients and casualties? Why is there no picture or video of where the people were hit by gas and were found? All videos are from "aid stations", none from "the wild".


Other videos and photos are by the White Helmets "rescuers", a U.S./UK financed propaganda prop, which is so "neutral" that it works with ISIS (vid) and al-Qaeda but not in government held areas where the actual Syrian population lives.


The Hama offensive by "the opposition" was personally planned and directed by the founder and head of al-Qaeda in Syria al-Joliani. Photos of the planing sessions were published by "opposition" agencies and widely distributed.


The White House paper only talks of "the opposition". How can there be an "intelligence assessment" (and reporting about it) that does not note that the incident in question took place in an area where AL-QAEDA rules and that the allegedly related (but defeated) offensive was launched by AL-QAEDA. Is AL-QAEDA now officially the "Syrian opposition" the U.S. supports? The neoconned former General Petraeus lobbied for an open U.S. alliance with al-Qaeda since 2015. The new National Security Advisor to Trump, General McMaster, is a Petraeus protege. He, together with Petraeus, screwed up Iraq. Is the Petraeus alliance now in place?


The next step then will be for the U.S. to informally ally with the Islamic State. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is already arguing for that:
We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.


The U.S., Friedman says, should let ISIS run free so it can help al-Qaeda which is ruling in Idleb governate. Friedman talks of "moderate rebels in Idleb" but these are unicorns. They do not exist. There is al-Qaeda and there is the smaller Ahrar al Sham which compares itself with the Taliban. All other opposition fighters in Idleb have joined these two or are now dead.


But why not use these gangs of sectarian mass murderers against the Syrian government and others? Hey, Israel wants us to do just that. And why don't we hand out anti-air missiles to them, Friedman asks, and lend them air-support. This at the same time. Surely the combination will do well.
In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.


Well, you know, that mujahedeen thing worked out so well that nearly forty years later the U.S. is mulling again to send additional troops to Afghanistan to defeat them. Do we really want a repeat of that at the borders of Europe?

Lunacy has truly taken over the White House but even more so the U.S. media. How can sanity be brought back to town?

UPDATE:

Professor emeritus at MIT Theodor Postol, a former science adviser to U.S. Navy command and missile expert, has analyzed the "evidence" the White House presented. The short, preliminary report is available here. (I have verified that this is the original one.)


Postol finds nothing in the White House assessment that lets him believe the incident was from an air attack. He finds signs that the incident that was launched on the ground by intentional exploding some container of 122mm ammunition with some other explosives.


He calls the White House assessment amateurish and not properly vetted by competent intelligence analysts who, Postol says, would not have signed off on it in is current form (just as I said above.)


Postol presumes that the incident was with Sarin. He makes no analysis of that White House claim (it is not his field). I don't agree with the Sarin claim. Many other organophosphate substances (pesticides) would be "consistent with" the symptoms displayed or played in the videos and pictures. Some symptoms expected with Sarin, for example heavy convulsions, spontaneous defecation, are no visible in any of the videos or pictures.


I do not concur with Postol on the picture of the alleged impact crater of the "attack". I have seen several "versions" of the impact crater on social nets with different metal parts, or none, placed in it. Postol seems to have only seen one version. His conclusions from that version seem right. But the crater "evidence" is tainted and to make overall conclusions from it is not easy. I concur though that the crater is not from an air impact but from a ground event. I am not sure though that it is related to the incident at all.

Posted by b on April 12, 2017

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