A new report and analysis on the deadly chemical-weapon attack in Syria last August — blamed on the Assad regime by warmongering Western governments and Sunni Arab dictators — offers further evidence that the Obama administration almost certainly used deception in its failed bid to more deeply embroil the United States and its military in Syria’s ongoing war. Congress and a public uproar eventually slammed the brakes on overt intervention in Syria by U.S. armed forces, but the experts behind the latest study say the implications surrounding the use of bogus “intelligence” to start wars are massive.
Based on the latest findings of two prominent experts, which appear to confirm other reports and investigations, it would have been impossible for the Assad dictatorship to have perpetrated the chemical attack outside Damascus as outlined by Obama and other Western officials. Instead, it seems that the more likely culprits of the attack were foreign-backed “rebel” groups hoping to overthrow the relatively secular regime and install an Islamist dictatorship based on sharia law. Estimates suggest almost 1,500 people died in the attack, including more than 400 children.
The new report, entitled “Possible Implications of Faulty U.S. Technical Intelligence,” was published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Science, Technology, and Global Security Working Group. It was written by former United Nations weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and MIT Science, Technology, and National Security Policy Professor Theodore Postol. Among other major concerns, the two experts in the field found that despite official claims and “intelligence,” the August 21 nerve-agent attack in East Ghouta “could not possibly” have come from the center or even the Eastern edge of regime-controlled territory.
Indeed, the crude rockets with chemical agents on them only had a range of about two kilometers — a far cry from the five to ten kilometers required for them to have been fired from the heart of Damascus. Those findings concur with the conclusions of other investigators, including those of the UN independent assessment of the range of the chemical munitions. “We don't know the weight, or a few other factors, but two kilometers is a good estimate,” UN weapons inspector Åke Sellström told reporters. Military experts quoted in German media reports agreed with the findings as well.
Other primary policy issues raised in the report include the fact that the “mistaken intelligence” could have led to an “unjustified U.S. military action based on false intelligence.” According to the authors, “a proper vetting of the fact that the munition was of such short range would have led to a completely different assessment of the situation for the gathered data.” Regardless of the reasons for what the authors called the “egregious errors in the intelligence,” the source of the errors needs to be explained, they said.
“If the source of these errors is not identified, the procedures that led to this intelligence failure will go uncorrected, and the chances of a future policy disaster will grow with certainty,” the report concluded. In other words, if the obvious problems in the so-called “intelligence” juggernaut are not fixed, the prospect of even more wars based on lies — or “faulty intelligence,” as some apologists for never-ending U.S. government interventionism refer to it — will continue to escalate.
Citing alleged “intelligence,” Obama and multiple top administration officials claimed repeatedly that the Assad regime had perpetrated the attack. In response to crossing the “red line,” the administration argued, the U.S. government must start raining missiles down on Syria. The dictatorship denied having deployed chemical weapons in the war, and as The New American documented extensively, vast amounts of evidence emerged in the days and weeks after the attack suggesting that it had actually been perpetrated by rebel forces. Such attacks are often referred to as “false flags.”
While the report is not conclusive evidence that the regime was not in fact responsible for the attack, it does demolish multiple claims made by the Obama administration. Indeed, according to the MIT study, based on the estimated range of the rockets involved and their landing spots, all possible launch points for the primary weapons would have been inside rebel-held territory. Maps of the area provided by the White House showing what areas were under whose control were used to illustrate the conclusions in the report. The authors also noted that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that “satellite images” had shown the location of impacts were probably not true.
“My view when I started this process was that it couldn’t be anything but the Syrian government behind the attack,” MIT Professor Postol was quoted as saying by the McClatchy news service after an interview about the findings. “But now I’m not sure of anything. The administration narrative was not even close to reality. Our intelligence cannot possibly be correct.” He also pointed out that the “Syrian rebels most definitely have the ability to make these weapons.” In fact, he added, “I think they might have more ability than the Syrian government.” Based on its disclosures, the Syrian regime does not even possess such weapons. “What, exactly, are we spending all this money on intelligence for?” Postol asked.
Of course, the implosion of the Obama administration’s apparently bogus narrative on Syria follows a long pattern of deceptive so-called “intelligence” being cited by U.S. presidents to wage unconstitutional and unwise wars. The most obvious example is Iraq, where the Bush administration continually cited claims and "intelligence" about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that were never found. Former President Bush later joked about the non-existent WMDs, although few others found humor in the loss of life and treasure that followed the war based on “flawed intelligence.” In Libya, Obama also cited erroneous “intelligence” to justify an unconstitutional war without so much as approval from Congress.
Perhaps weary of bogus information being used to spark more wars, Americans were outraged, with a deafening public outcry and congressional opposition following Obama’s demand for war in Syria — likely putting an end to the plot to overtly inject the U.S. military into Syria’s civil war. However, from the start, the Obama administration and other foreign powers have been crucial to the jihadist rebels’ cause — supplying weapons, funding, training, and international cover in the establishment’s bid to secure “regime change” in Damascus. The fruits of those machinations are now clear to see: Over 100,000 dead, minorities being targeted for extermination, millions displaced, and more.
As more and more evidence continues to demolish the administration’s supposed “intelligence,” however, U.S. officials are sticking to their story. “The body of information used to make the assessment regarding the August 21 attack included intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence claimed in a statement quoted in press reports. “That assessment made clear that the opposition had not used chemical weapons in Syria.”
However, as The New American and numerous other publications have documented, the assertion that foreign-backed rebels in Syria have not used chemical weapons is contradicted by growing mountains of evidence — including video footage, leaked government documents, expert analysis, Turkish investigations, and more. UN investigators have also pointed to evidence suggesting that rebels had almost certainly deployed chemical weapons. According to the MIT report, the rockets in question could have been produced by anyone with “access to a machine shop with modest capabilities.” The sarin agents, meanwhile, have been described by experts as “kitchen” grade.
With the U.S. government’s gargantuan so-called “intelligence community” consistently producing alleged “intelligence” purporting to justify whatever wars the administration is hoping to get involved with, analysts say it is time for Congress to take action. It is hardly unreasonable to suggest that a pattern is emerging indicating that the “mistakes” are more likely deliberate lies. As the MIT report explains, if the systemic failures in “intelligence” gathering are not addressed, the American people might well be duped into more disastrous military misadventures.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at