On the website of the London Review of Books on Sunday, Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist says the Obama administration “cherry-picked intelligence” on the gas attacks in the Damascan suburb of Ghouta in August “to justify a strike against [Syrian President Bashar] Assad.”
The doubt doesn’t originate with Hersh, the journalist told “Democracy Now!” on Monday. “It’s the case of people in the administration who believe when they—when they take the oath, they take the oath of office to the Constitution and not to their immediate general or admiral or not to the—or not to the president even. It’s about truth. And there are an awful lot of people in the government who just were really very, very upset with the way the information about the gas attack took place. And that’s not to say that I have—I certainly don’t know who did what, but there’s no question my government does not. And there’s also no question that the American president that we now have—a guy I voted for, who has a lot of good things about him—was willing to go to war, wanted to throw missiles at Syria, without really having a case and knowing he didn’t have much of a case. And that, to me, is very troubling. We’re talking about a major war crime here, because certainly hundreds, if not more, of innocent civilians—and some bad guys too, rebels and others—were killed by sarin, which is a gross violation.
“The case is simple,” he continued. “We had—in the spring, there were a number of chemical warfare attacks in various parts of Syria that were investigated by everybody. The U.N. looked at it. They determined there were four instances of small cases of maybe 10—I shouldn’t say small; one dead is more than enough—but maybe 15 to 20 people killed by sarin and others incapacitated. And eventually they concluded, like they always do, the U.N., no decision on who did what. So we began looking at it. The Israelis, of course, they’re a neighboring country; they’re very concerned about Syrian chemical—the arsenal. It’s a strategic threat for Israel. And we got some sarin, and we got some evidence. And the thing that surprised us the most is there was a lot of reporting in—known to the American community and to our allies, that al-Nusra, one of the more jihadi groups in—more radical, if you will, Islamist groups fighting against Bashar, and other groups, too, to a lesser degree, AQI, al-Qaida of Iraq—sometimes we call it al-Qaida of Mesopotamia—had not only the capacity and potential and the know-how, how to produce sarin, but also had done some production of sarin. And these are reports that were very highly classified that went up the chain of command. In some cases, they were so secret that not many people in the government knew about it. They went to senior officials in the Defense Intelligence Agency. The CIA certainly was forwarding many of these reports.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.