‘Expect everything’: Assad warns U.S. bases in the Middle East could be attacked in retaliation for strikes against Syria
PUBLISHED: 12:09 GMT, 9 September 2013
Bashar al-Assad warned that any number of factions in the region could attack U.S. military bases if America strikes Syria in retaliation for ‘alleged’ chemical weapons use, likely referring to Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and Iran
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has warned that the United States should expect retaliation if the Obama administration moved forward with military strikes in response to a chemical weapons attack on August 21.
‘You should expect everything,’ Assad told American journalist Charlie Rose in a wide-ranging interview, portions of which were broadcast Monday morning on CBS.
Such attacks could come from any of a number of different sources, he said, while not ruling out that his own military could launch them.
Assad described possible future retaliation against the U.S. as ‘not necessarily through the government. It’s not only – the government is not the only player in this region. We have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideologies. You have everything in this region now. So you have to expect that. … Expect every action.’
When Rose asked if that included the possibility of chemical warfare, Assad replied, ‘That depends.’
‘If the rebels or the terrorists in this region, or any other group have it – It could happen. I don’t know. It could happen. I’m not a fortune teller, to tell you what will happen.’
Anti-government rebel groups in Syria include both pro-Democracy factions and Islamist groups, including the global terror group al-Qaeda.
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Charlie Rose interviewed the Syrian dictator in Damascus, in an interview previewed on CBS and slated for broadcast in its entirety on PBS Monday night
The Middle East is a powder keg that’s ready to explode, Assad said, insisting that the U.S. will have to deal with the consequences of failing to understand the nature of terror groups in the region
President Obama tried during the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia to wrangle international support for striking Syria, but the White House hasn’t persuaded any other nation to participate in a military attack
Assad has warned the US to expect reprisal attacks if it…
But Assad also leverages groups inside the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah to push rebel forces back on the streets of Damascus, and nearby Iran also backs his regime.
Retaliation against the U.S., he acknowledged, ‘could take different forms, both direct and indirect,’ hinting that he could work in concert with Hezbollah and the Iranians.
The Syrian leader, on the brink of seeing American Tomahawk missiles and Predator drones rain down on his own military installations, said that Obama’s administration is ‘going to pay the price if you’re not wise in dealing with the terrorists.’
‘So nobody expects – there are going to be repercussions … Nobody expected the 11th of September, so you cannot expect – It would be difficult for anybody to tell you what is going to happen.’
‘It’s an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.’
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday in London that Assad could avoid a military strike by turning over all his chemical weapons within a week but immediately made clear he was sure that would never happen
Anti-war protesters held signs and banners outside the Foreign and Commonwealth office in central London on Monday as Kerry met with Britain’s Foreign Minister William Hague
Polls show that t vanishing minority of Americans support striking Syria, and Obama will have to contend with a growing protest movement at home as he tries to convince Congress to endorse military action
Assad has denied that he was responsible for the suspected August 21 sarin gas attack aimed at a rebel-controlled area of Syria, and challenged the Obama administration to publicly show the evidence it has and ‘prove it now.’
The president ‘didn’t present’ evidence publicly ‘because he doesn’t have [it]. Kerry doesn’t have [it], no one in the organization has. If they had it they would have presented it to you as media.’
Obama will sit down Monday afternoon for interviews with the three major TV networks and with CNN, Fox News and PBS. He is also scheduled to address the nation in a prime-time speech Tuesday night – on the eve of this year’s 9/11 anniversary.
Rose reminded Assad that Secretary of State John Kerry has disclosed that the U.S. was able to track the flight of missiles originating from government-controlled Syrian territory and landing in an area overrun by rebels.
‘We know that his regime gave orders to prepare for a chemical attack,’ Kerry said during a press conference Monday at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.’
We know that they deployed forces and put them in the places where this took place. We know, by tracing it, physically where the rockets came from and where they landed. And it is no accident that they all came from regime-controlled territory and all landed in opposition-controlled or contested territory. We know this.’
But ‘the Russians have completely opposite evidence,’ Assad countered to Rose, ‘that the missiles were thrown from an area where the rebels control.’
He likened the current controversy to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s public presentation before Congress of evidence, which later proved faulty, that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
That evidence was the basis for the approval of a U.S.-led invasion.
‘He said "this is our evidence," Assad recalled, but ‘it was false evidence. Kerry didn’t even present evidence. He [said] "We have evidence" and he didn’t present anything. Not yet. Nothing so far. Not a single shred of evidence.’
Ultimately, Assad insisted, his government forces ‘were not in the area where the alleged chemical attack happened … Our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically. Our soldiers. They went to the hospital as casualties because of chemical weapons.’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem (L) met Monday in Moscow. Russia’s government remains one of Syria’s only allies, with ties strengthened by arms sales and a Russian naval base on Syrian soil
Assad insisted that the White House doesn’t have ironclad evidence that his government used chemical weapons, and said Obama is leading a ‘social media administration’
‘But in the area where they say the government used chemical weapons, we only had video, and we only have pictures and allegations. … how can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidence?’
‘We’re not like the American administration. We’re not a social-media administration or government. We are a government that deals with reality.’
Members of Congress should ask themselves, he said, ‘What do wars give America? Seems there’s is nothing now. Nothing. No political gain, no economic gain, no good reputation.’
America’s credibility around the world, Assad claimed, is an ‘an all-time low.’
He also insisted, as several high-profile politicians have in Washington, that starting a war in Syria would be ‘against the interests of the United States.’
‘Why? First of all because this is the war that’s going to support al-Qaeda and the same people who killed Americans on the 11th of September.’
In Moscow on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem to discuss the increasingly tense situation.
We are asking ourselves how Obama can … support those who in their time blew up the World Trade Center in New York, Moualem said during a press conference following the meeting.
Lavrov claimed there was clear evidence the anti-Assad rebels have chemical weapons, and hinted that there are still questions about who initiated the August 21 attack.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415942/Assad-warns-US-military-bases-Middle-East-attacked-Obama-strikes-Syria.html#ixzz2ePaZO2jw
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Syrian village is ‘liberated’ by rebels… who then forced Christians to convert to Islam
PUBLISHED: 19:27 GMT, 8 September 2013
Terrified Christians claim Syrian rebels ordered them to convert to Islam on pain of death when they ‘liberated’ their ancient village.
Opposition forces, including fighters linked to Al Qaeda, gained temporary control of the Christian village of Maaloula after fighting with regime forces.
The reports have reignited fears about western support for the rebel groups, which are increasingly being infiltrated by Islamic extremists.
A Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula
Government media has provided a different account of the battle suggesting regime forces are winning
A general view of Maaloula, northeast of the capital Damascus. Rebels including al-Qaida-linked fighters are believed to have gained control of the village
Syrian government forces stand guard in Maaloula village, a scenic mountain village where people still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic
One Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of whom had beards and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great), attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village.
‘They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village. Where is President Obama to see what has befallen us?’
Another Christian resident said: ‘I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, “Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded”.’
Another said one church had been torched, and gunmen stormed into two other churches and robbed them.
The beautiful mountain village, 25 miles from Damascus, is one of the few places in the world where residents still use the ancient language of Aramaic, which was spoken by Jesus and his disciples.
Historic: A church in Maaloula which is on a UNESCO list of tentative world heritage sites
State-run TV reported that all churches in Maaloula were now safe and the army was chasing gunmen in the western hills
It has become a key strategic battleground in the Syrian civil war because of its proximity to the capital. It was held by President Assad’s regime, but taken at the weekend in a rebel advance spearheaded by the hardline Islamist al Nusra Front.
Villagers said they heard several foreign accents among the rebels, with many feared to be Al Qaeda fighters imported into the conflict. A villager said he heard mainly Tunisian, Libyan, Moroccan and Chechen dialects.
In a video posted online, a rebel commander shouted at the camera: ‘We cleansed Maaloula from all the Assad dogs and all his thugs.’ But Syria’s state news agency claimed the rebels had withdrawn and the regime had regained the village, saying: ‘The army inflicted heavy losses in the ranks of the terrorists.’
A Christian woman who spoke to the Associated Press on Thursday also said there were reports that militants threatened villagers with death if they did not convert to Christianity
A church in Maaloula where fighting has been taking place overnight. A poster with the portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad is seen bottom right
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415586/Syrian-rebels-attack-historic-Christian-village-residents-speak-language-Jesus.html#ixzz2eQRuXzlh
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September 9, 2013
US White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough made the unbelievable admission this week that Western interests have concluded Syria carried out an alleged chemical attack in eastern Damascus based on “common sense” rather than “irrefutable evidence.” Slate’s “White House: “Common-Sense Test” And Not “Irrefutable” Evidence Hold Assad Responsible,” states [emphasis added]:
White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough went on the Sunday talk shows to drum up support for what he called a “targeted, limited effort” that will change “the momentum on the battle field” in Syria. Yet he also acknowledged on CNN that the evidence that ties Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Aug. 21 attack outside Damascus that allegedly killed 1,429 people has more to do with a “common-sense test” rather than “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence.”
And while McDonogh, and his collaborators both in Washington and abroad, claim their planned assault on Syria is not a repeat of Iraq in terms of scale, it is clear that in terms of deception it is.
Slate would continue by stating [emphasis added]:
Now do we have a picture or do we have irrefutable beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence? This is not a court of law and intelligence does not work that way.” Meanwhile, McDonough also emphasized on NBC that “nobody is rebutting the intelligence; nobody doubts the intelligence.”
The answer highlights how the White House still has not shown the public a concrete piece of intelligence that directly connect Assad’s regime to the alleged chemical weapons attack, as the Associated Press points out in a detailed story.
The AP story Slate referred to is titled, “DOUBTS LINGER OVER SYRIA GAS ATTACK RESPONSIBILITY,” and states:
The U.S. government insists it has the intelligence to prove it, but the public has yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence produced by U.S. intelligence – no satellite imagery, no transcripts of Syrian military communications – connecting the government of President Bashar Assad to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month that killed hundreds of people.
In its absence, Damascus and its ally Russia have aggressively pushed another scenario: that rebels carried out the Aug. 21 chemical attack. Neither has produced evidence for that case, either. That’s left more questions than answers as the U.S. threatens a possible military strike.
While evidence of who actually carried out the attack remains elusive, what is clear is that the Western interests have made an intentionally baseless claim, echoing the verified lies told during the lead up to the military invasion and decade-long occupation of Iraq, and similar fabrications used to justify the 2011 assault on Libya.
Image: From Independent’s “Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all: Defector tells how US officials ‘sexed up’ his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion.” In retrospect, the corporate-media has no problem admitting the insidious lies that were told to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq – the lead up to the war was another story. A verbatim repeat of these admitted lies are being directed at Syria amidst the West’s failure to overthrow the government with terrorist proxies.
What is also clear is the documented conspiracy to overthrow the Syrian government and destabilize neighboring Iran and Lebanon with a sectarian bloodbath by directly funding, arming, and otherwise providing material support for sectarian extremist groups aligned with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and who hold allegiance to Al Qaeda. This conspiracy began under the Bush administration as early as 2007 and has continued onward throughout the Obama administration.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” stated (emphasis added):
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
More recently, it would be revealed that the United States, the United Kingdom, and its regional axis including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have sent millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weaponry to a predominantly Al Qaeda led terrorist force operating inside and along Syria’s borders.
For instance, in the Telegraph’s article titled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’,” it is reported:
It claimed 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November.
The story confirmed the origins of ex-Yugoslav weapons seen in growing numbers in rebel hands in online videos, as described last month by The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, but suggests far bigger quantities than previously suspected.
The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours. But the report added that as well as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.
British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers. The Americans are also believed to be providing training on securing chemical weapons sites inside Syria.
“Common sense” would then dictate that with such substantial aid flowing to terrorists operating within Syria, it would be inconceivable for sectarian extremists to overrun Western-backed “moderate fighters” unless of course the summation of Western support was in fact flowing directly and purposefully into the hands of sectarian extremists from the beginning.
These are the same extremists drawn from Al Qaeda, the United States has warned for well over a decade might obtain chemical weapons and use them against a civilian population to achieve their goals. This points the finger directly toward Western-backed terrorists regarding the recent alleged chemical attack in Damascus, not the Syrian government. The attack would enable the United States and its military axis to take a more active and direct role in supporting these terrorist forces who have this past year suffered tremendous irreversible loses against a prevailing Syrian Arab Army.
“Common sense” points the finger in the opposite direction White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough has suggested. Without any actual evidence coming from a nation who has waged war habitually on fabricated justification, and who is clearly involved in a long-standing conspiracy to overthrow the Syrian government, and who is responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe it feigns interest in now ending, the world has understandably and universally opposed this latest act of unprovoked military aggression.
Unfortunately, the decision on whether or not the US goes ahead anyway with another act of unprovoked war and 21st century conquest, does not hinge on real common sense or the will of the American people who categorically oppose any military operation, but rather on the compromised, corporate-financier purchasedUS Congress. In Congress, astoundingly, the lack of evidence is not at the center of debate, but rather what the consequences of America’s proposed military assault might be, and whether the assault should be, in fact,expanded.
Obama Ramps Up War Pitch Even As Basic Arguments Fall by the Wayside
September 9, 2013
Obama is going on a whirlwind media blitz this week in an attempt to sell a very skeptical public on war with Syria.
Credit: Public Domain
Yet the Washington Post notes:
Obama’s top aide says the administration lacks “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence” that skeptical Americans, including lawmakers who will start voting on military action this week, are seeking.
Moreover, President Obama correctly noted in 2007:
The President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
Yet Obama admitted last week:
Some people had noted, and I think this is true, that had I been in the Senate in the midst of this period, I probably would have suggested to a Democratic or a Republican president that Congress should have the ability to weigh in an issue like this, that is not immediate, imminent, time-sensitive.
We may not be directly, imminently threatened by what’s taking place in …Syria … in the short term, but our long-term national security will be impacted in a profound way, and our humanity is impacted in a profound way.
No wonder that Obama has lost some of his biggest initial supporters for a strike against Syria.
White House efforts to convince the U.S. Congress to back military action against Syria are not only failing, they seem to be stiffening the opposition.
That was the assessment on Sunday, not of an opponent but of an early and ardent Republican supporter of Obama’s plan for attacking Syria, the influential Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mike Rogers.
Rogers told CBS’s “Face the Nation” the White House had made a “confusing mess” of the Syria issue. Now, he said, “I’m skeptical myself.”
The rule of zombies
Paul Craig Roberts
September 9, 2013
What is the real agenda?
Why is the Obama Regime so desperate to commit a war crime despite the warnings delivered to the White House Fool two days ago by the most important countries in the world at the G20 Summit?
Credit: Public Domain
What powerful interest is pushing the White House Fool to act outside of law, outside the will of the American people, outside the warnings of the world community?
The Obama Regime has admitted, as UK prime minister david cameron had to admit, that no one has any conclusive evidence that the Assad government in Syria used chemical weapons. Nevertheless, Obama has sent the despicable john Kerry out to convince the public and Congress on the basis of videos that Assad used chemical weapons “against his own people.”
What the videos show are dead and suffering people. The videos do not show who did it. The Obama Regime’s case is nonexistent. It rests on nothing that indicates responsibility. The Obama Regime’s case is nothing but an unsubstantiated allegation.
What kind of depraved person would take the world to war based on nothing whatsoever but an unsubstantiated allegation?
The world’s two worse liars, Obama and Kerry, say Assad did it, but they admit that they cannot prove it. It is what they want to believe, because they want it to be true. The lie serves their undeclared agenda.
If Obama and Kerry were to tell the public the real reasons they want to attack Syria, they would be removed from office.
The entire world is teetering on a war, the consequences of which are unknown, for no other reason than two people, devoid of all integrity who lack the intelligence and humanity to be in high office, are determined to serve a tiny collection of warmongers consisting of the crazed, murderous Israeli government and their Muslim-hating neoconservative agents, who comprise a fifth column inside the Obama Regime.
The Russian government has given evidence to the UN that conclusively proves that the al-Nusra, al-Qaeda affiliated invaders are responsible for the attack. There is also conclusive proof that the “rebels” have chemical weapons. In addition, a highly regarded journalist has reported, using direct quotes and the names of al-Nusra fighters, that the chemical weapons were given to al-Nusra by Saudi Arabia without proper handling instructions, and that an accidental explosion occurred before al-Nusra could use the Saudi-supplied weapons to frame-up the Assad government.
However the deaths were caused, they are unfortunate, but no more so that the deaths that Obama has caused in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Syria. The proven deaths for which Obama is responsible are many times the unproven deaths that Obama attributes without evidence to Assad.
The indisputable fact is that Syrian deaths occur only because Washington initiated the invasion of Syria by external forces similar to the ones that Washington used against Libya. However the deaths occurred, the deaths are the doings of the criminal Obama Regime. Without the criminal Obama Regime seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government, there would be no deaths by chemical weapons or by any other means. This was a war initiated by Washington, Israel, Israel’s neoconservative fifth column inside America and the White House, and the captive western media that is bought and paid for by the Israel Lobby.
Assad did not start the war. The Syrian government was attacked by outside forces sent in by Washington and Israel.
Assad has much higher public support in Syria than Obama has in the US, or cameron has in the UK, or hollande has in France, or merkel has in Germany, or netanyahu has in Israel.
The White House Fool keeps repeating his nonsensical statement, as if the Fool is a wound-up talking doll, that Assad’s unproven “use of chemical weapons is a threat to global security.”
Dear reader, who besides the White House Fool is so unbelievably stupid as to believe that Syria is a threat to world security?
If Syria is a “threat to world security,” like Iraq was a “threat to world security,” like Iran is alleged to be a “threat to world security,” what kind of superpower is the United States? How low does the IQ have to be, how mentally impaired does the public have to be to fall for these absurd hysterical allegations?
Let’s turn Obama’s claim upon the Fool. Why isn’t it a threat to global security for Obama to attack Syria? There is no authority for Obama to attack Syria just because he wants to and just because he has demonized Assad with endless lies and just because Obama is the total puppet of the crazed Israeli government and his neoconservative national security advisor, in effect an Israeli agent, and just because the Ministry of Propaganda, including NPR, repeats every Obama lie as if it were the truth.
Isn’t it a threat to international security when a superpower can, acting on a whim, demonize a leader and a country and unleash mass destruction, as the US has done seven times in the past twelve years,? There are millions of innocent but demonized victims of the “indispensable, exceptional USA,” the “light unto the world.”
Forget about the US media, which is nothing but a propaganda ministry for the Israel Lobby. What the members of Congress and what the American people need to ask Obama is why does the White House only represent the Israel Lobby?
No one supports an attack on Syria but the Israel Lobby.
Why is Obama going to add yet another war crime to Washington’s 12-year record? Wasn’t it enough to destroy the lives and prospects of millions of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Egypt? Why kill and destroy the life prospects of yet more millions of people in Syria and other countries into which Obama’s war could spread?
Maybe the answer is that Obama, Kerry, and the crazed Netanyahu and his neoconservative fifth column are zombies.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
President will conduct six television interviews in bid to beat war drums
Paul Joseph Watson
September 9, 2013
Image: Wikimedia Commons
President Barack Obama will conduct interviews with no less than six television networks later today in a desperate bid to drum up support for an attack on Syria before his speech to the nation on Tuesday.
“Obama will tape interviews Monday afternoon with anchors from ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as with PBS, CNN and Fox News,” reports Politico. “The interviews will be conducted by ABC’s Diane Sawyer, CBS’s Scott Pelley, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Fox’s Chris Wallace, NBC’s Brian Williams and PBS’s Gwen Ifill.”
Despite building opposition amongst members of Congress, White House officials are still bizarrely confident that lawmakers will give the green light, with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough telling ABC yesterday, “This resolution is going to pass after we work this.”
However, the latest whip count of Congressmembers likely to vote against the authorization shows 222 votes against, with only 217 needed to defeat the resolution. That doesn’t even include any of the other 186 representatives who are undecided or haven’t made their position clear in public.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said yesterday that should Obama lose the vote, he does not have the authority to launch an attack without being in violation of the Constitution.
Should Obama ignore Congress, prominent talking heads like Princeton University’s Cornel West have warned that the President would open himself up to impeachment.
“It would be an illegal war. It would be an immoral war for the United States to begin bombing and sending missiles to Syria and killing more innocent people,” said West, adding that such a “dictatorial” move would be “grounds for impeachment.”
Since last month’s alleged chemical weapons attack, which the latest German intelligence report suggests was not even ordered by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, military intervention has become more about saving Obama’s supposed “credibility” than any pretense at discouraging the use of chemical weapons.
The Hill’s Justin Sink thinks that the entire fate of Obama’s second term hangs in the balance.
“If Congress votes against a military attack on President Bashar Assad’s regime, Obama’s credibility may be shot, perhaps for the rest of his tenure. At a minimum, it would cement the idea that he is weak in Washington, let alone worldwide,” writes Sink.
“It is a moral duty to say this”
Paul Joseph Watson
September 9, 2013
A Belgian teacher who was kidnapped by rebels in Syria said he overheard the militants acknowledging that President Bashar Al-Assad was not responsible for last month’s chemical weapons attack.
Speaking French, Piccinin tells RTL that he overheard rebels acknowledging that Assad was not behind the chemical weapons attack.
Pierre Piccinin da Prata was kidnapped along with Italian war journalist Domenico Quirico back in April near Damascus. According to Quirico, the two were subjected to torture, humiliation and mock executions by the western-backed rebels. They were freed yesterday and flown to Rome after the Italian Foreign Ministry managed to secure their release.
According to Quirico, the rebels who held him and Piccinin as prisoners set about on a “terrifying odyssey across Syria.”
“We were moved around a lot…it was not always the same group that held us, there were very violent groups, very anti-West and some anti-Christian,” he told AFP, adding that when the two escaped they were tracked down by rebels within 48 hours and “seriously punished.”
Piccinin told Italy’s RTL radio that he heard a conversation during which members of the Abu Ammar rebel brigade admitted that Assad was not behind the attack in Ghouta that the Obama administration has cited in building a case for military intervention.
“It is a moral duty to say this. The government of Bashar al-Assad did not use Sarin gas or other types of gas in the outskirts of Damascus,” said Piccinin.
While the Obama administration has insisted that “common sense” and not “irrefutable evidence” is enough to prove that Assad was behind the attack, others have begged to differ.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the attack was a “provocation” carried out by rebels in order to create a pretext for US military intervention.
Phone calls intercepted by Germany’s BND intelligence also indicate that Assad was not behind last month’s attack nor any other alleged chemical weapons incident.
Last week, Russia announced that it had compiled a 100 page report proving opposition rebels “were behind a deadly sarin gas attack in an Aleppo suburb earlier this year,” the same attack that Carla Del Ponte, the leading member of the UN inquiry into the incident, blamed on rebels.
As we previously highlighted, Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta admitted to a reporter that they were responsible for last month’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.
Despite the fact that the report was written by credible Associated Press and BBC correspondent Dale Gavlak, it has received virtually zero mainstream attention.
In addition, leaked phone conversations that emerged earlier this year between two members of the FreeSyrian Army contain details of a plan to carry out a chemical weapons attack capable of impacting an area the size of one kilometer. Footage was also leaked showing opposition militants testing what appeared to be nerve agents on laboratory rabbits.
On Thursday we featured a video of an FSA militant apparently confessing to using chemical weapons in order to follow Osama Bin Laden’s mantra of killing women and children.
CNN poll: Public against Syria strike resolution
By Paul Steinhauser and John Helton, CNN
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Mon September 9, 2013
Washington (CNN) — As President Barack Obama presses his case for a strike on Syria, a new national survey shows him swimming against a strong tide of public opinion that doesn’t want the United States to get involved.
The CNN/ORC International poll released on Monday shows that even though eight in 10 Americans believe that Bashar al-Assad’s regime gassed its own people, a strong majority doesn’t want Congress to pass a resolution authorizing a military strike against it.
More than seven in 10 say such a strike would not achieve significant goals for the United States and a similar amount say it’s not in the national interest for the country to get involved in Syria’s civil war.
The poll comes at the start of a pivotal week for the president.
The Senate is expected to take up the resolution after returning from its summer recess on Monday while Obama participates in a round of interviews with the major television outlets. Wolf Blitzer’s interview with Obama will air Amid a flurry of briefings by White House officials, Obama will travel to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to make his case with lawmakers hours before he speaks to the nation in a prime-time address.
"Even as he works members of Congress one by one in small group settings, President Obama’s biggest challenge is the American public at large," said John King, CNN chief national correspondent.
"More than seven in 10 Americans simply don’t see a military response making any difference. They don’t see it doing any good. They’re very skeptical, post Iraq and even post Libya and post Egypt, that the United States can do something in a limited way in the Middle East and walk away with a success. And so the skepticism is driving it right now."
The stakes are high for the president.
After pushing for strikes against Syria, Obama unexpectedly announced on August 31 that he would ask Congress to authorize military action. Failing to get Congress to go along would be an embarrassment for the commander in chief.
"He’ll go to establishing a new high bar to what it means to being a lame duck this early," CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro said. "It would be devastating, I think, for rest of his agenda."
But Stephanie Cutter, another CNN contributor who was Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager, said Congress’s not passing the resolution would be "a blow to the United States, not a blow to the president. It’s a blow to the United States’ authority all over the world. And unprecedented."
"That’s why you’re going to see some members of Congress vote for that particular reason. Some said they’re voting for that particular reason," she said.
The Senate could vote on the resolution as early as Wednesday and the outcome there is very much in doubt. Even more uncertain are prospects in the House where Republican leaders say they’ll wait to see what happens in the Senate first.
"Congressional approval would help Obama a little, but a majority would still oppose airstrikes against military targets in Syria," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "If Congress authorizes military action, 55% of Americans would still oppose airstrikes."
The president has had at least a small majority of public support behind him in conflicts involving the United States over the past 20 years.
Eighty-six percent of those surveyed in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll less than a month after the 9/11 terror attacks favored military action, and 56% backed the United States and its allies in creating a "no-fly" zone over Libya in 2011.
Only U.S. involvement in NATO airstrikes on Serbia in 1999 during the Clinton administration split the public down the middle, with 43% supporting involvement and 40% opposing it.
While 64% supported using American ground troops in Iraq in 2003, intelligence indicating Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction was later discredited. That has contributed to public doubts about Obama administration claims of evidence showing that al-Assad’s regime gassed its own people on August 21 outside Damascus, killing more than 1,400 people.
Fifty-nine percent of people questioned say they don’t think Congress should approve a proposed resolution authorizing military action against Syria for up to 90 days — an initial 60-day window plus another 30 following congressional notification — but prohibiting the use of ground troops. About 40% support that plan.
If Congress rejects the Syria resolution, the White House has said that the president still has the authority to strike.
"I think it would be a mistake for me to jump the gun and speculate because right now I’m working to get as much support as possible out of Congress," Obama said on Friday when asked by CNN senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar what he would do if the resolution failed.
But the poll indicates Americans are quite clear on that point: More than seven in 10 say they would oppose U.S. airstrikes against Syria if Congress does not authorize it.
The debate over Syria has caused intra-party divides among both parties: Hawkish Republicans and moderate Democrats say the United States should strike, while the libertarian wing of the GOP says involvement is not in the U.S. interest. Liberal Democrats say there are alternatives to military action that haven’t been exhausted.
The poll also suggests those surveyed who identified themselves as Democrats and Republicans don’t see eye to eye on the resolution. Fifty-six percent of Democrats think Congress should pass it, but only 36% of Republicans and 29% of independents say the same.
"Bringing Congress into the equation seems to have added a political dimension to the Syria debate," Holland said. "Once Congress makes up its mind, however, the gap between Democrats and Republicans nearly vanishes."
If Congress does authorize military action, the gap between Democrats and Republicans shrinks to just four points, with 51% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans favoring military action. And if Congress rejects the resolution authorizing military action, large numbers in both parties oppose airstrikes.
"It appears that while the debate is still in the hands of Congress, politics will affect Americans’ views on Syria," Holland said. "Politics may still stop at the water’s edge for most Americans, but Capitol Hill remains a highly partisan environment, even when international affairs are being debated."
The poll gives some insight into why many Americans oppose action.
While more than eight in 10 say that it’s likely or certain that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, nearly seven in 10 say that it’s not in the U.S. national interest to get involved in Syria’s civil war. And more than seven in 10 say that airstrikes would not achieve significant goals for the U.S.
And while most of those questioned said that how their members of Congress voted on the resolution wouldn’t affect how they voted in future elections, but the remainder by a nearly 3-1 margin said they would be more likely to vote against the lawmakers if they supported the resolution.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International on September 6-8, with 1,022 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
Dyess officially responds to secret nuke transfer, refuses to deny
September 9, 2013
Update: Dyess Air Force base has issued another official response to the high level military intelligence regarding the unsigned nuke transfer, which appears to be issued to team members (likely due to widespread concern on the base and potential intelligence within the base) through their Facebook page. This time we see Dyess initiate a more direct answer, but once again they cite that the intel is simply untrue because they did not release it themselves. The post reads:
“**ATTENTION TEAM DYESS**
Dyess AFB has not been involved in the transfer of any nuclear weapons. Please be advised that any reports of this nature are inaccurate and information contained in these articles was not released, nor verified by the 7th Bomb Wing commander or other Dyess representatives.”
Engineers at Pantex work on nuclear warhead. / photo via Pantex.
Forced to respond by countless comments throughout social media as well as a bombardment of calls to the base, Dyess Air Force base has now released an official response to the high level military intelligence we revealed to you last week regarding a secret nuke transfer from the base to S.C.
Posting on their official Facebook page, Dyess responded to a question regarding the nuke transfer piece now seen by millions worldwide:
“Dyess Air Force Base: Please be advised that the information contained in recent reports on nuclear weapons movement from Dyess AFB was neither released nor supported by the 7th Bomb Wing commander or representatives from Dyess AFB. Please reference the Dyess AFB website (www.dyess.af.mil) or other official Air Force websites for accurate, up-to-date information.”
In other words, Dyess is saying virtually nothing. Instead of denying the transfer of nuclear warheads which coincided with a warmongering announcement by S.C. Senator Lindsay Graham that a nuclear attack may hitS.C. if we don’t go to war with Syria, Dyess is instead refusing to deny the secret nuke transferoutright. Their answer, as you can plainly see, is to direct readers to their official site for information about Dyess.
Why not immediately ‘debunk’ the intel if there was no transfer of nuclear warheads?
The fact that the base even responded is amazing, considering the level of information we’re talking about when it comes to a secret nuke transfer. But adding on new information we’ve uncovered regarding the nearby Pantex Plant, which assembles and disassembles nuclear weapons, the story becomes even more interesting. Extremely close to Dyess, Pantex is America’s ‘only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility and is charged with maintaining the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.’
Was Dyess simply a temporary holding facility for nuclear weapons originally coming out of Pantex? Here are some more comments (at least the ones that haven’t been deleted assuming many may have been removed) that are absolutely blasting the official Facebook page. Virtually all of these questions are now receiving the copy paste of the Dyess refusal to deny the transfer, and many comments acknowledge the real lack of answer from the base:
The answers coincide with what I was told by an official on the phone after contacting the base, who told me she could not divulge information regarding any ‘weapons transfers’ when I did not mention anything to do with weapons in the first place. The official also told me they would get back with me by the end of the day on Friday (after telling me days earlier they’d also get in touch ‘soon’). Today, I still have not received a call. Checkout the call below for yourself:
September 9, 2013
Following the Constitution and going to Congress for war authorization displays Obama’s “weakness” and has damaged the presidency, according to John Bolton, the recess appointed ambassador to the United Nations under Bush.
Obama: I was elected to end wars.
“I was stunned,” Bolton told Newsmax after Obama said he would seek authorization from Congress to bomb Syria – not a declaration of war, as stipulated by the Constitution. “What the president did was a display of weakness of the kind we haven’t seen in an American leader in decades, if not since the 19th century.”
New York Rep. Peter King said Obama is “abdicating his responsibility as commander in chief and undermining the authority of future presidents,” while former Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, said it is too early to know if Obama’s “lead-from-behind” style of leadership will damage the concept of the imperial presidency.
Hoekstra said by going to Congress, Obama has presented “a real opportunity” for al-Qaeda and the enemies of America.
Other insiders have also criticized Obama’s behavior, including the former Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman who characterized it as a “fiasco reminiscent of the Carter days.” Gillerman said Obama’s decision to hold off bombing Syria for its unsubstantiated use of chemical weapons would elicit “gloating and celebrating” in Iran. He said the decision to consult Congress and gain the approval of the American people will cast “a very dark shadow” over the credibility of U.S. foreign policy.
“What we seem to be losing, as we confront the challenges in Syria and Iran, is credibility,” Wall Street Journal columnist and establishment foreign-policy expert Bret Stephens told Newsmax. “We’re not taken seriously. And we’re not taken seriously because we have a president who issues a red line – as he said a red line ‘for me’ – and then several months later tells us that he didn’t issue the red line, it was the world.”
Obama’s decision, viewed as harmful vacillation by neocons and Democrat war hawks alike, has apparently damaged the long-standing effort to take out Iran.
“The feeling is that something was wrong here, that this was not the way this should have gone down, that this is not the way a superpower should act,” a former Israeli diplomat told Fox News last week.
“We look at Syria, and we think Iran. … What conclusions should be drawn about how America will act in other circumstances? Here was a clear red line. It was breached a few times. This looks like a clever move; but America’s willingness to ‘walk the walk’ now is very questionable.”
Bolton, King, Hoekstra and other Obama critics fail to understand that the founders deliberately weakened the executive branch in favor of decisions made by the legislative, at one time the direct representatives of the American people. A balance of power, James Madison wrote in the The Federalists no. 10, was imposed on government in order to defeat “the reprobated axiom of tyranny.”
Sept. 9, 2013
No one will die. Syria is a fiction. Brian Williams, who will narrate the attack, is just the latest Pixar cartoon.
This is what I told Mr. Shrink this morning. He frowned and said the drugs weren’t working. I didn’t let him stop me. I kept going.
I told him Obama and Kerry are producers who are trying to sell the series to the networks. They’ve got the sponsors lined up, but there’s an argument about whether it should be three episodes or 12.
One NBC exec remarked, “Okay, so we have the initial missile launch. That’s one night. But afterwards, do we see ground troops? If not, the whole thing could be a bust.”
Kerry said, “If we play it right, we’ll have ground troops. They’ll take a few small towns. Maybe a city.”
CNN has built a studio in Atlanta, consisting of two rooftops, where Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will do stand-ups in bush jackets, as they pretend to watch the missiles in the sky.
Mr. Shrink put up his hand to halt me.
“Look,” he said, “you’ve gone off the rails. Syria is real. People will die there, innocent people.”
“No,” I said. “And you know how I know that? Because you’re sitting here talking to me. If you really believed innocent people were about to die, you’d be out in the street, protesting, doing something. But you’re not. You’re crazier than I am.”
That stopped him for a few seconds.
He leaned back in his chair and slanted his head to one side and smiled. He shook his finger at me.
“You’re delusional but clever,” he said. “You’re playing some kind of angle. What is it?”
“No angle,” I said. “Ever since television came in, there’s been nothing but television. All other reality was banished. People just don’t realize it yet.”
“Well,” he said, “in that case there’s no problem. You must be very happy knowing all suffering has ceased. We’re all just watching television.”
“No,” I said. “You’ve got it wrong, Doc. I’m here because I’m afraid television is a fragile medium. Any number of events could cause it to go offline. And then where will we be? We’ll sink into a great Void.”
He sniffed a therapeutic opening.
“What’s this Void like?” he said.
“It’s dark,” I said. “There’s no programming. No news, no CSI, no Law and Order. You know what that means? The concomitant programing in our minds will cease as well, because we’re all wired for television and nothing else.”
“So we’ll just sit there in the great Void and stew in our own juice?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s a moot question. You’re asking me to comment on what I’d be like without my internal programming. But I can only respond to you THROUGH my programming. Get it?”
He sighed and looked at his watch.
“You’re screwing with me,” he said. “Syria is real. The war would be real. The missiles are real. The destruction and loss of life would be very real.”
“Look at it this way,” I said. “Suppose, as you say, the war is real. But suppose it isn’t on television. Nothing about it, the debate, the lead-up, the attack…none of it is on television. Therefore, none of us know anything about it. See? So I ask you, would they stage the war at all? What would be the point if it wasn’t on television? The so-called message we’re sending, the punishment for Assad using chemical weapons, the muscle-flexing. It wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t play.”
He stood up. He started pacing around.
“In other words,” he said, “we all have a disease called television. We don’t know how sick we are.”
“Exactly,” I said. “It’s all-embracing. Wall to wall. The television disease is reality now. Ever since 1950, it’s all there is.”
“You need a better drug,” he said.
“I already have a drug. The screen.”
“But it’s counter-productive,” he said.
“So cure me.”
“I don’t think I can.”
“You make up stuff all the time. You’re making up stuff now.”
Suddenly, across the room, the television set, sitting on an oak table, went on. A large face filled the screen. It was a man’s angry face. The man spoke:
THIS IS THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. ALL CONVERSATION ABOUT THE WAR WILL STOP NOW. IT IS NOW ILLEGAL TO DISCUSS THE WAR. YOUR GOVERNMENT IS DEBATING THE ISSUE AND WILL SOON COME TO A CONCLUSION. ANYONE CAUGHT DISCUSSING THE WAR WILL BE ARRESTED AND QUARANTINED. I REPEAT, STOP DISCUSSING THE WAR.
The face vanished. The screen was blank. The television set turned off.
“See,” I said. “It’s starting.”
Mr. Shrink was blinking. His face was pale.
“What the hell are you talking about?” he said.
“They just censored the news.” I said. “Pretty soon there won’t be any more news. Then the other programs will go away. Television will cease.”
“You’re stark raving mad,” he said.
The television set came back on. The same bland angry face was there:
AS OF THIS MOMENT, ALL TELEVISION PROGRAMMING WILL STOP. THERE WILL ONLY BE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS. WE ARE IN A CRISIS. WE WILL KEEP YOU UPDATED.
The set turned off.
The shrink sat down hard in his chair. He looked straight at me.
“What’s going on?” he said.
“Well, Doc,” I said, “apparently we’re all heading for the Void.”
“No!” he said. “There has to be television!”
“No,” I said. You’re off the mark there. There doesn’t have to be television. There only has to be government. Do you see? Government is the last stand against people being by themselves thinking their own thoughts.”
“What thoughts?” he said.
“Looks like we’re about to find out. But I don’t think it’s going to be pretty. Like I said, the war is only a television event. Without war, we all hit the Big Nothing. That’s where we’re just…wherever we are.”
“AND WHERE IS THAT?”
“In the reality that is finally real.”
He shook his head vigorously. I thought he was going to dislocate his spine.
“WE’VE GOT TO HAVE WAR SO WE CAN HAVE TELEVISION,” he said.
“Now you’re getting it,” I said. “When did that idea first occur to you? Was it just now…or was there a time, perhaps, in childhood when you realized it?”
He leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath and let it out.
“I remember when I was nine,” he said. “I was all alone in the house. My parents had gone down the street to see a neighbor. I didn’t want to go. I was sitting in the living room watching the news. I suddenly wondered what would happen if there wasn’t any news.”
“You mean you wondered what would happen if there was nothing newsworthy to report?”
He closed his eyes.
“No,” he said. “I just wondered what would happen to people if the news stopped.”
“And how did you feel when you had that thought?”
“I felt happy. I don’t know why. Then I felt guilty.”
“You felt guilty?” I said. “Why?”
He paused, then opened his eyes and looked at his hands.
“I think I felt guilty because I felt…powerless. I wanted to…invent my own news. I wanted to invent a completely different kind of news. But I didn’t think I could. The networks were too strong. I didn’t see how I could go up against them.”
“That’s interesting,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “It is. Even at that age, I saw we were all living in a bubble.”
“And war reinforces that bubble.”
“But,” he said, “war is real. People die.”
“Of course it is. Of course they do. But if they can’t put it on television, then what?”
He thought about it.
“Then we might wake up,” he said. “They’d keep killing lots of people and we’d wake up, and then something different would happen. I don’t know what it would be, but…”
He smiled. He reached into his jacket pocket and took out a pistol. He checked the load and extended his arm. He fired three shots into the television set. The screen exploded.
He laid the gun down on the desk.
We sat there for a minute.
“Listen,” he said, “can I come back next week? Do you have an opening? Same day, same time?”
“Of course, Doc,” I said. “I’ll be here. But listen. Those psychiatric journals you keep stealing from the library? Try to ease off on that. I wouldn’t want you to be in jail and miss your appointment. Your parole officer is a bit of a hard-ass.”
He stood up and looked around the office.
“We might be getting somewhere,” he said.
“Yes,” I said. “Good work today. See you next week.”
We had a long road ahead of us, but for the first time, I believed we were making progress.
Jon Rappoport is the author of two explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED and EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails atwww.nomorefakenews.com
How the White House and the CIA Are Marketing a War in the YouTube Era
Posted: 09/09/2013 8:04 am
Governments have always used fear and manipulation of emotion to get the public to support wars. The Bush administration did it in 2002 in Iraq and it is happening again in Obama’s push for war in Syria.
In possibly the biggest development yet in the story, we learned this weekend that the CIA has now been enlisted to sell this new war with unproven evidence. On Saturday, U.S. intelligence officials claimed they "authenticated" 13 videos that show the horrific aftermath of a chemical attack in Syria in August. What exactly did they "authenticate"?
Why are these videos suddenly news when they have been publicly circulating the web for weeks? Here’s why: The videos are meant to market the war, not to "prove" who committed the atrocities. (CBS News and others have reported that the White House case for war has been described as "largely circumstantial.")
We’ve seen this movie before and it doesn’t end well. A decade after the Bush administration used the CIA’s "yellow cake" tale and other faulty evidence, the government is yet again relying on the CIA to lead a domestic propaganda effort for military action abroad. If these videos can sway American public opinion, as they’re intended to do, and influence Congress to vote to attack Syria, this could become the first YouTube war.
No American could look at these horrifying videos of people suffering and dying and not be moved. But that doesn’t mean a military strike is the only way to respond to the humanitarian tragedy happening in Syria. So bald-faced is the rush to war that the White House could not restrain its anticipation that the videos could be successfully employed to market the war. As the Washington Post reported, "Administration officials and their congressional allies believe the horrific scenes depicted in the videos could help sway public opinion." But CNN, which broadcast portions of the grim videos this weekend, added thequalification that they could not independently authenticate them.
The release of these graphic videos is a cynical maneuver by the White House because the rest of the case for war remains unproven, with open questions about transcripts, satellite imagery and signal intelligence under the shield of classified information. What does it mean when the government’s case for war relies more on emotion than on evidence? Welcome to war marketing in the YouTube era.
Just as the White House would have us believe that others created the "red line," the administration has just shifted responsibility for the war onto the CIA, which is famous for the use of emotional and psychological warfare. To point to just one example, in the 1960s the Agency’s "Operation CHAOS" spied on American anti-war activists to try to disrupt and discredit opposition to the Vietnam War in order to sway public opinion against the anti-war movement.
This is the way intelligence seems to work lately: a classified sales pitch within a broader marketing plan. In an interview this weekend, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough acknowledged the administration’s case wasn’t 100%: "Do we have a picture or do we have irrefutable, beyond a reasonable doubt evidence? … This is not a court of law. And intelligence does not work that way," he said.
Actually there are laws against aggressive war and faked intelligence.
I personally witnessed this game in advance of the Iraq War. As a member of Congress, I sat in classified sessions where maps were ceremoniously produced, conjecture elevated, scenarios spun and "evidence" concocted, leading me to conclude that there was no legitimate case to attack Iraq, as I argued five months before the Iraq invasion.
The marketing of a war using the manipulation of the public’s emotion is wrong. Here are immediate remedies:
We must insist that all information presented behind closed doors to advance a war be immediately declassified and released.
Congress must demand that the CIA desist in promoting the war and investigate its role in this domestic propaganda campaign: Who demanded the CIA "authentication" and when? Which division of the CIA supplied it?
Congress must recall for additional testimony from James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, who oversees the CIA.
Congressional investigators need to demand the underlying intelligence supporting the "classified" briefings.
There must be no war based on secret information.
The administration must be made to account for any decisions they make to go to war.
Eleven years ago the American people were lied to in the cause of war. We can’t let it happen again.
Dennis J. Kucinich is a former 16-year member of Congress and two-time U.S. presidential candidate. Visit his website www.kucinichaction.com.
Syria says it ‘welcomes’ Russian proposal on securing chemical weapons
By Will Englund, Debbi Wilgoren and Karen DeYoung, Updated: Monday, September 9, 4:19 PME-mail the writers
MOSCOW — The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday said it welcomed a Russian proposal to avert U.S. military strikes by having Damascus turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors.
The statement by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Moscow offered the first indication that a diplomatic solution may be possible to the international standoff that has evolved since apparent chemical weapons attacks on rebel-held suburbs outside Damascus on Aug. 21.
In Washington, deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken told reporters Monday that the United States “would welcome a decision and action by Syria to give up its chemical weapons.” But he expressed skepticism that Syria would do so.
Hours earlier, in London, Secretary of State John F. Kerry sketched out a transfer-of-control scenario similar to the Russian proposal, then dismissed it, after being asked by a reporter whether there was anything that Assad could do to avoid an attack. “Sure, he could turn over every bit of his weapons to the international community within the next week, without delay,” Kerry said. “But he isn’t about to.”
Kerry also sparked criticism by commenting that any U.S. strike would be “an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton said after a meeting with President Obama that if Syria immediately surrenders its chemical weapons, “that would be an important step, but this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction.”
Last month’s reported chemical attacks, which the United States says killed more than 1,400 civilians, brought world-wide condemnation, as well as vows of military action by Obama, who had previously described the use of such banned weapons as a “red line.” But Russia, which is Syria’s chief patron, blocked efforts to generate a response by the U.N. Security Council. And the United States has struggled to build support for unilateral military strikes, although the White House announced Monday that 13 more countries have signed a statement holding the Syrian government responsible for last month’s attack.
On Monday, while meeting with Moualem, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country would ask Syria to relinquish control of its chemical weapons to international monitors to prevent a U.S. strike. Lavrov also called on Syria to sign and ratify the Convention on Chemical Weapons, which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.
“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country will avoid strikes, we will immediately begin working with Damascus,” Lavrov said. “We call on the Syrian leadership not only to agree on a statement of storage of chemical weapons under international supervision, but also to their subsequent destruction.”
Moualem said Syria “welcomes the Russian initiative,” but he did not say whether his country would agree to what Russia was asking. “We also welcome the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is trying to prevent American aggression against our people,” Moulaem said.
In a White House news briefing, Blinken said, “We want to take a hard look at the proposal” and talk to the Russians about it. He noted that the international community has tried for 20 years to get Syria to sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention and that Assad only last week refused to admit that he even has chemical weapons, “despite overwhelming evidence.”
He said U.S. intelligence believes that Assad ultimately controls the deployment of chemical weapons in Syria.
“We would welcome Assad giving up his chemical weapons and doing it in a verifiable manner,” Blinken said. He added that “unfortunately the track record to date” does not inspire confidence.
Kerry learned of the announcement before it was made, when he received a call from Lavrov about two hours into a flight to Washington from London, a senior State Department official said. Lavrov said Russia was “willing to engage” on the issue of weapons inspections and surrender of Syria’s chemical stocks, and he made specific reference to the possibility of U.S. action.
Kerry “expressed serious skepticism and said the United States was ‘not going to play games,’ ” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the conversation.
While Kerry told Lavrov the United States would consider a serious proposal, the official made clear that he did not consider the Russian statement Monday to be one.
Kerry “also made clear that [the Russian statement] cannot or will not be a reason to delay our efforts with Congress to authorize the president’s proposal” for a military strike, the official said.
Kerry “made clear that the Russians cannot go back to Syria and say this is a joint U.S.-Russian proposal,” the official said. “We have seen no details; we have seen no ‘proposal.’ ”
Kerry “still feels it is not possible” to arrange an adequate inspection and verifiable destruction of Syrian weapons in any reasonable time frame, the official added.
The official said the Obama administration had “batted around” in the past the idea of an ultimatum to Syria on giving up its chemical weapons, but that the idea had died internally when it was judged too complicated and likely to provoke Syrian subterfuge and delay.
Lavrov had also previously discussed the idea in conversations with Kerry, including a telephone call as recently as Thursday, the official said, but never in the context of the proposed U.S. military action.
Clinton, commenting on the situation in Syria during a speech at the White House on the fight against wildlife trafficking, said Assad’s “inhuman use of weapons of mass destruction against innocent men, women and children violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order, and therefore it demands a strong response from the international community led by the United States.”
She added: “The international community cannot ignore the ongoing threat from the Assad regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, whether they are used again against Syrian civilians, or transferred to Hezbollah or stolen by other terrorists. . . . The world will have to deal with this threat as swiftly and as comprehensively as possible. Now if the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control — as was suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians — that would be an important step, but this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction. And Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely or be held to account.”
The discussion about transferring control of those weapons could take place only “in the context of a credible military threat by the United States” to maintain pressure on Syria and its allies, Clinton said. She said she would continue to support Obama’s efforts, “and I hope that the Congress will as well.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a supporter of congressional authorization for U.S. strikes, said in a statement that she, too, would welcome the transfer and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.
“I believe that Russia can be most effective in encouraging the Syrian president to stop any use of chemical weapons and place all his chemical munitions, as well as storage facilities, under United Nations control until they can be destroyed,” she said.
Feinstein also noted to reporters that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and British Prime Minister David Cameron have already signaled support for the plan.
“I think if the U.N. would accept the responsibility of maintaining these [chemical weapons] facilities, seeing that they’re secure and that Syria would announce that it is giving up any chemical weapons programs or delivery system vehicles that may have been armed, then I think we’ve got something,” she said.
Asked about Kerry’s remarks earlier Monday, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Kerry was making a “rhetorical” point in the face of Assad’s long-standing intransigence. “His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons. Otherwise he would have done so long ago,” Psaki said. “That’s why the world faces this moment.”
Obama has said U.S. intelligence and video documentation clearly show the Syrian government was responsible for last month’s strikes, part of a bloody civil conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people in the past 2 1/2 years. Obama and Kerry are working to win enough support for congressional authorization of a strike.
In an interview Sunday with CBS News,Assad denied that his government had used chemical weapons and warned the United States not to get involved in another Middle Eastern war.
The Syrian dictator said Kerry’s effort to generate support for a strike reminded him of the “big lie” told in early 2003 by then-president George W. Bush’s secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, in justifying what became the U.S. war in Iraq. Powell based his argument for that war on claims that Iraq was harboring weapons of mass destruction, which later proved false.
Kerry emphasized to reporters in London that any strikes ordered by the United States would be limited and would not resemble the lengthy actions in Iraq and Afghanistan that have left a legacy of public resentment.
“We’re not talking about war. We’re not going to war,” Kerry said, describing the proposed strikes as similar to action taken by then-president Ronald Reagan against Libya after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.
“We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground in any kind of prolonged effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war,” Kerry said. “That is exactly what we’re talking about doing. An unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”
His words sparked a fresh round of criticism, however, from people who said that describing U.S. plans as “unbelievably small” and “limited” was hardly a good way to take a moral stand against actions the United States has said are untenable.
“Kerry says #Syria strike would be “unbelievably small” — that is unbelievably unhelpful,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Twitter.
In London on Monday, both Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague dismissed the idea that there was “still time” to avoid consequences for what Obama has called a “horrific” chemical weapons attack. “There can’t be a negotiated settlement if the Assad regime is allowed to eradicate the moderate opposition,” Hague said.
In Paris, a French defense official said France has intelligence that Assad’s “brother, cousins or nephew” might have ordered last month’s chemical weapons attack. Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential assessments, the official said France believes that the chemical strikes on the Damascus suburbs may have been launched because the Assad government feared “a powerful attack” by Syrian rebels armed with “new, more powerful weaponry” from abroad.
In the event of U.S.-led military action, the official said, France could conduct “very precise strikes without putting too many of our assets at risk.” He said France has cruise missiles that can be fired from planes roughly 30 to 40 miles from their targets.
However, he added, a Western attack “is taking an enormous risk. We are not fools.”
During his overseas trip, Kerry appears to have won backing from Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the idea of a U.S. military strike. He also generated additional support for a statement condemning the use of chemical weapons, holding Assad responsible for the strike and calling for a “strong international response.”
The statement was shepherded by the administration after the Group of 20 summit in Russia failed to agree on a common position on Syria last week. The initial signatories to the statement were Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, Britain and the United States. Germany signed a day later.
On Monday, the White House announced that Albania, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Honduras, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Qatar, Romania and the United Arab Emirates had signed on as well.
The G-20 nations that did not sign the statement included Brazil, India and Indonesia, along with China and Russia, Assad’s principal arms supplier.
On Saturday, the 28-member European Union unanimously agreed to a similar statement. But neither document mentioned support for a military strike, and the E.U. said there should be no action against Syria until U.N. investigators who visited the site of the alleged chemical attack issue their report later this month. The administration has said the U.N. report is irrelevant because the investigators’ mandate is only to determine whether a chemical weapons attack occurred – which is not in dispute at this point – not who carried it out.
Although administration officials have indicated that they have wide allied backing for military intervention, the only other nations to publicly indicate support are Turkey and France, which said last week it wants to wait for the U.N. report. In Britain, Parliament rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s request for authorization to join the United States in a military strike.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been among the leading arms suppliers to the Syrian rebels and have long backed unspecified direct foreign intervention in Syria. Although neither has said whether it would participate in a U.S.-led military strike, Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah said Sunday that his government was considering how it could be of assistance. Qatar sent bombers and other resources to aid the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011.
Speaking through an interpreter, Attiyah said that “the Syrian people over more than three years has been demanding or asking the international community to intervene.”
“Several parties that support the Syrian regime,” he said, have intervened in that country since the war began with an uprising against the government in 2011. He was apparently referring to Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shiite movement.
Assad, interviewed by Charlie Rose of CBS News in Damascus, said that “it had not been a good experience” for the American people “to get involved in the Middle East in wars and conflicts.” He added that “they should communicate to their Congress and to their leadership in Washington not to authorize a strike.”
Many of Assad’s comments, which were conveyed by Rose in a telephone report from Beirut on CBS’s “Face the Nation”ahead of their broadcast Monday, appeared designed to play on what opinion polls have shown is strong public opposition to U.S. intervention. The comments indicated that Assad is closely following media reports about the U.S. deliberations.
Rose said the Syrian president “denied that he had anything to do with the [chemical] attack. He denied that he knew, in fact, that there was a chemical attack. . . . He said ‘I can’t confirm or deny that we have chemical weapons.’ ”
“He suggested, as he has before, that perhaps the rebels had something to do” with the reported attack, Rose said, and he quoted the Syrian leader as saying there had been no evidence that he had used chemical weapons against his people.
If the Obama administration had evidence, he said, Assad suggested “they should show that evidence and make their case.”
Assad said that his forces “were obviously as prepared as they could be for a strike,” Rose reported, and that he was “very, very concerned” that an American attack would tip the military balance of the war in the rebels’ favor.
Syria won some indirect support of its own Sunday as Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in a Baghdad news conference with his Iranian counterpart that Iraq “will not be a base for any attack nor will it facilitate any such attack on Syria.”
Speaking during his first visit abroad since his appointment last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that U.S. intervention in Syria risks igniting a regionwide war.
“Those who are shortsighted and are beating the drums of war are starting a fire that will burn everyone,” Zarif said.
DeYoung reported from London. Wilgoren reported from Washington. William Branigin in Washington, Michael Birnbaum in Berlin and Liz Sly in Beirut contributed to this report.
Admits regime change intention
September 9, 2013
Following up on this morning’s shocking “appeasement” turn of events by Russia and Syria, the White House has promptly fired back in the only way it knows:
Yes – in Rwanda, Somalia and all those tens of other conflicts the US never got involved in because Qatari/Saudi petrodollar/gas interests were not involved.
With the mainstream media proclaiming last night’s Charlie Rose interview with Assad “propaganda”, the following headlines from a speech by national security advisors Susan Rice will frighten even the most “Miley Cyrus”-numb American:
RICE SAYS OPENING DOOR TO CHEMICAL WEAPONS THREATENS U.S.
RICE SAYS CHEMICAL WEAPONS COULD BE USED EVEN WITHIN THE U.S.
RICE SAYS U.S. ALLIES BECOME `TEMPTING TARGETS’ IF NO RESPONSE
RICE SAYS ASSAD ATTACK THREATENS GLOBAL SECURITY, U.S. INCLUDED
We can only imagine the ‘score’ underlying her words, which are getting scarier and louder with every verbal escalation…
RICE SAYS SYRIA UNLEASHED `HELLISH CHAOS’ IN CHEMICAL ATTACK
and an ominous Carmina Burana ‘drum beat’, crescendoing with:
RICE SAYS NOT RESPONDING MAY EMBOLDEN N KOREA, IRAN, TERRORISTS
So, it would appear, that a Syrian strike is no longer about preventing Assad from using weapons, as was the story until now, but deterring others from doing what Assad may or may not have done.
At the end of the day, the US will refuse to accept checkmate by being humiliated by grandmaster Putin in the world arena: it seems the decision is already made:
RICE SAYS U.S. WOULD LIKE UN BACKING BUT IT WON’T HAPPEN
And finally, here is the admission after all. As expected, the whole point of this entire farce was to topple Assad and replace him with a pro-Syria, pro-Qatar, anti-Russia regime:
And if we were Iran we would be worried. Very worried. A false flag in which Tehran attacks Israel is coming any second:
Paul Joseph Watson
September 9, 2013
Syrian President Assad said he will respond to a US air strike! How dare he?
Assad should thank Obama for every humanitarian love bomb that falls on Damascus and beg for more!
September 9, 2013
A chemical attack may be launched on Israel by Syrian rebels from government-controlled territories as a “major provocation,” multiple sources told RT.
Photo: FreedomHouse via Flickr
The report comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed that Syria puts its chemical weapons arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction in order to prevent a possible military strike against the war-torn republic.
Moscow also urged the Syrian authorities to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The offer has already been passed over to the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met Lavrov in Moscow for talks on Monday.
“We don’t know if Syria will accept the offer, but if imposing international control over chemical weapons stored in the country can help to avoid military strikes, we are immediately going to start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has welcomed Moscow’s initiative, “based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Muallem said later on Monday.
Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice made a statement saying that Damascus’ alleged “use of chemical weapons against its own people” posed threat to US national security. “The use of chemical weapons also directly threatens our closest ally in the region, Israel,” she said speaking at the New America Foundation in Washington.
The statement has come shortly after RT published a report about the possibility of a chemical provocation.
A few hours earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that to avoid a military operation Syrian President Bashar Assad has a week to surrender control of “every single bit” of his stock of chemical weapons to the international community. “But he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done,” he added, speaking at a media conference in London, as he was wrapping up his European tour in a move to win support for the Obama-proposed “limited” strike against Syria.
The US Administration has blamed the Syrian government for the alleged chemical weapons use in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. Washington has maintained it has the intelligence to prove it, but has so far refused to make public a single piece of concrete evidence that would link the Assad regime to the deadly incident.
On Sunday, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee released a series of 13 videos showing what is purported to be proof of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The disturbing images of the victims of the alleged attack were earlier shown during a closed-door briefing to a group of senators, as Obama is trying to get authorization from Congress for the military strike on Syria. The administration told senators that the authenticity of the videos was verified by the intelligence community, reported CNN, which first aired the graphic material.
The videos depict scenes of convulsing children, men vomiting and struggling to breathe and, also what appeared to be dozens of dead bodies wrapped up in white sheets, lying side by side. But they still do not provide an answer to the question of who was behind the attack. The Syrian government and the opposition forces point the finger of blame at each other.
It also remains unclear as to why exactly President Assad would order a chemical attack at a time when a group of UN experts were carrying out an investigation in the country.
There is proof the footage of the alleged chemical attack in Syria was fabricated, Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of the St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria, told RT. She added that she plans to submit her findings to the UN.
“I will not vote to send my son, you son, or anyone’s daughter to fight for stalemate”
Sept. 9, 2013
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of Congress’s more recent proponents of foreign non-interventionism, has written a letter to his fellow Congressmen explaining why he’s voting no on going to war with Syria, as well as encouraging them all to do the same.
“[War] should never be the first option. It should occur only when America is attacked or threatened, or when American interests are attacked or threatened,” Paul declares in his letter.
“I will not vote to send my son, you son, or anyone’s daughter to fight for stalemate,” Paul says, as he lays out why pursuing a war would be foolish, if not altogether illegal.
Read and share Paul’s letter below:
Paul recently floated the possibility of conducting another filibuster before a formal Senate vote on Syrian military intervention.
September 9th, 2013
Washington (CNN) – One day before President Barack Obama gives a prime time speech to make his case against Syria, a new national poll indicates the president’s approval rating on foreign policy has hit an all-time low. And only three in ten approve of how he is handling Syria.
But according to a CNN/ORC International survey, the number of Americans who approve of how Obama is handling his job in general remains steady.
Only four in ten approve of the job Obama is doing on foreign policy, with 57% of those questioned giving the president a thumbs down. The 40% approval rating on foreign policy is Obama’s lowest level ever on that issue in CNN polling.
The CNN poll’s Monday release comes as the president sits down for interviews with the country’s major broadcast and cable news networks, including CNN, to push for congressional authorization for U.S. military action to punish the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against its own citizens.
"President Obama’s approval rating on foreign affairs has continued its steady decline – from 54% in January to 49% in April, 44% in June, and just 40% now," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "This may be a troubling sign for a president who in past polls had always scored his highest ratings for his handling of foreign affairs."
Specifically on Syria, only 31% of the public approves of the president’s policies and actions, with 63% giving him a thumbs down. Four in ten Democrats say they disapprove of the job Obama’s doing on Syria, with 54% saying they approve.
There is a wide partisan divide on this question, with only 26% of independents and just nine percent of Republicans approving of how Obama is handling the situation in Syria, which is suffering through two years of a bloody civil war between government forces and various rebel factions.
"The number of Democrats who disapprove of how the president’s handling Syria may cause problems for the White House," adds Holland. "Given his low approval scores on Syria among independents and Republicans, the 40% of Democrats who disapprove may mean there is no base to rally on this key issue."
The president’s overall approval rating stands at 45%, with 52% saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing in the White House. The 45% approval rating is unchanged from CNN’s previous poll, which was conducted in June.
"An unchanged overall approval rating perhaps comes as a surprise to some observers, but arguably the unpopularity of military action against Syria is balanced by the fact that the public wanted the president to consult with Congress before taking action on Syria, and that’s exactly what he did," adds Holland.
The 45% approval rating is not Obama’s lowest mark in CNN polling. His all-time low was a 43% approval rating in September of 2011.
The poll also indicates the president’s approval rating on the economy stands at 43% on the economy, 42% on health care, and 36% on the budget deficit, all basically unchanged from earlier this year.
While the president’s overall approval rating is nothing to brag about, it’s still soars above Congress. According to the CNN poll, only one in five give federal lawmakers a thumbs up on the job they’re doing on Capitol Hill, with 78% saying they disapprove.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International September 6-8, with 1,022 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.