The Convoluted Path to ‘Chemical Weapons’ Belief

The path from Monday to today, which has brought the US to believe Syria’s chemical weapons use is unusual. This timeline may help us better get a grip on how (though not why) officials got from A to B.

Monday: Chuck Hagel is in Israel speaking with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe ‘Bogie‘ Ya’alon. According to Hagel, Syrian chemical weapons didn’t come up.

Tuesday: Israeli Brigadier General Itai Brun delivers a speech in Tel Aviv claiming that Syria has “repeatedly” used chemical weapons.

Later Tuesday: Secretary of State John Kerry calls Benjamin Netanyahu to specifically press him on Brun’s claim. Kerry says Netanyahu was unable to confirm the allegation at all, while Netanyahu’s office refuses to make any public comments on the call or Brun’s claim. Kerry follows up with this non-proof by pushing NATO to send more aid to Syria’s rebels.

Wednesday: Hagel points out how weird it is that no one in Israel told him any of this stuff during his visit, in which he (civilian leader of the US military) met with Israeli military officials.

Thursday: The White House says it believes Syria has used chemical weapons on a “small scale.” Hagel says he believes that too.

The holes in the story:

1. Israel’s military claims to have provided the evidence on which Brun makes his statement to the US, even though Hagel has apparently never heard of it.

2. Conversely, Israel’s military suggests that Brun’s assessment is based in large measure on “visual evidence” i.e. photographs from Syria’s rebels of people foaming at the mouth. This “evidence” was certainly familiar to the US before Monday, and they still had repeatedly said over the past weeks that they didn’t believe Syria had actually used chemical weapons.

Other things worth noting:

3. Brun claims Syria used chemical weapons five times. The US “assessment” says twice. Media reports of rebels claiming chemical weapons use are common, but only twice did the reports get major coverage. The more recent of the two saw Syrian troops killed by suffocating gas, leading analysts to believe that the rebels had used a make-shift lachrymatory agent as a weapon, not the “nerve agent” that Syria’s arsenal consists of and is accused of using. The US ended both of the major reports claiming that they didn’t believe chemical weapons were used, but now say they do, based only on “evidence” that they already had and already dismissed.

21 thoughts on “The Convoluted Path to ‘Chemical Weapons’ Belief”

  1. Reading over Miguel Rodriguez's letter – I don't think there's any new information that popped up in the last few days. I think it's just war shills McCain and Levin that sent the W.H. a letter a couple of days ago asking what is known about use of CW in Syria. In response, The W.H. sent them the Rodriguez letter. So now McCain and Levin are inflating the content of the letter in an attempt to market war with Syria.

    Factwise, it sounds from the letter that intelligence agencies of other countries (Britain, French or Israel) are claiming to have smuggled some soil samples from Syria with traces of sarin in them. That's the extent of the 'proof'.

  2. Thank you for this. Pisses me off how cable news (Fox) spinning this as if Obama admin ready to move against Assad. On contrary, White House seems cautious to me.


  3. What matters in the end is that the US is promoting the idea that Syria used chemical weapons in order to ratchet up the course to military intervention by the US/NATO/Israel/Turkey. The White House is not "cautious", it's using Israel as the excuse to do what it wants to do in the first place.

    This is in line with Obama's stance on Iran. He wants an Iran war – he just doesn't want to be BLAMED for it because it would tarnish his undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.

  4. Syrian government have not and will not use chemical weapon on its own people.., or other nation.., because they don't have the interests wanting to occupy the Middle East nor Central Asia as USA and Europe have. They don't have the will wanting to kill more then a million Iraqis and living the country in ruin…, Syrian government don't want to dominate the world economy…, they don't have the meaning nor the militarism regime as NATO and USA has.., to keep such military might you need to conquer the world and that's what USA and NATO is about.., to brake the established unity between Russia, China, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon is what this war is about.., is a proxy war constructed by Hillary Clinton and orchestrated by Obama regime…, a falsified democracy as Bush and Bill Clinton was.

    1. It would be foolhardy for Syria to use chemical weapons with so much of the West looking for an excuse to join the fight against them. They'd have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

      The rebels (and Israel) would have everything to gain and nothing to lose by staging an incident.

      It infuriates me that most main stream media seem to assume that if chemical weapons were used it was the Assad regime when it was more likely the other side faking an attack to get the West involved.

  5. Did Israel finally convinced Hagel to bend over and hold his ankles without showing him proof that they have a condom?

  6. The first red flat that should go up is when Israel provides the proof of CW…not that Israel would ever falsify "facts" in order to start a war that involves the US (and not Israel)…but benefits Israel.

    1. Actually, Israel didn't provide any "proof," or even evidence. The first mention of CW seems to have been in a speech some Israeli general made in Tel Aviv. How is words coming out of someone's mouth "proof?"

      1. The problem is that the warmongers in Congress and the media usually take everything that comes out of an Israeli mouth as gospel truth and therefore all the "proof" that is needed to commit US youth to the battlefields.

    2. Israel lost against Syria in 1982 in the attempt to control the water supply to Lebanon and Syria. Now they want to win through an Al-Qaeda led proxy war. Unfortunately, the Syrian army is slowly but surely winning over the terrorists. So Israel wants direkt military intervention to regain the upper hand over the Assad regime. Hence the CW story. With Syria destroyed, Israels only serious opponent will be Iran. Hence the NW story. It's all to obvious.

  7. The Bush Administration's false intelligence on Iraqi WMDs was more credible than this.

  8. This is an absurd development.

    Yesterday, in the morning, I read Mr Hagel saying that United States’ intelligence did not believe Syria had used chemical weapons.

    Because Israel had already just claimed in public that Syria had used such weapons, Mr Hagel was careful to state that the United States used its own intelligence sources.

    By that afternoon, we had this new story that indeed the United States thought it likely (but had no hard evidence) that Syria had used chemical weapons.

    I know of no example from real life events more deserving of the descriptive term “Orwellian.”

    We know from the inadvertently-overheard words of two presidents not terribly long ago, the presidents of France and the United States, talking in private that Mr Netanyahu is regarded by both of them as an inveterate liar.

    Mr Hagel, owing to his independence of mind regarding the Mideast, fought quite a battle after the election to be confirmed for his cabinet post.

    Of course, his first words about chemical weapons contradicted Mr Netanyahu.

    Something happened in the course of one day to turn him around.

    Was it the same group which so opposed his nomination and confirmation?

    And that group is the special interest of American apologists for Israel’s excesses.

    Actually, if anything, virtually the opposite is true. There was a documented incident of the so-called rebels using some form of chemical.

    From where did they get the material?

    From Israel, in an effort to create a casus belli?

  9. Come on Hawks.You are pushing too hard. You can even see that Warhead McCain is so eager that he has a hand grenade hidden in his left cheek. The days of nasty Cheney are over and a war at this time would not go over well in America. Assad isn't that dumb to use a gas bomb and get the West angry with him.
    Folks, we don't have the money nor any reason to go to war in Syria. We can't stop the killing with more guns.

    1. You do.

      The extreme Zionist party in Israel and the US. get their One State solution that even general Sharon opposed.

      The Obama-Kerry regime get a pro-American client stat, give their israeli clients what they want e and the corporations get to take over the economy.

  10. So this is how the Israelis get their pay-back on Obama for appointing someone they don't like to a substantial position, it seems to me. Summarized that way, it appears Hagel is being circumvented. My feeling is that it is as much about getting Assad and potentially Admedinejad as it is about getting Obama and his successors with take-home-message being "Do Not Go Against Us, it does not help you, and it does not work".

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