In the run-up to the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq, Sir Richard Dearlove, then the head of Great Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, wrote that in Washington, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of regime change in Iraq. Today, many observers believe they are witnessing a replay of this approach as the Obama administration seeks to justify war with Syria.
McClatchy Washington Bureau, for instance, declared that the “administration’s public case for attacking Syria is riddled with inconsistencies and hinges mainly on circumstantial evidence” — evidence that the administration has been notably reluctant to share with the public or foreign governments.
According to an unclassified summary of an intelligence assessment released by the White House, U.S. intelligence “collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence” showing the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad preparing to deploy chemical weapons in its ongoing civil war three days before it allegedly did so on August 21.
“That claim,” observed McClatchy, “raises two questions: Why didn’t the U.S. warn rebels about the impending attack and save hundreds of lives? And why did the administration keep mum about the suspicious activity when on at least one previous occasion U.S. officials have raised an international fuss when they observed similar actions?”
The simplest explanation is that the administration doesn’t believe its own spin. Unlike many in the press who have uncritically repeated White House claims, administration officials know full well that the evidence of a chemical attack by the Assad regime is dubious at best.
“A careful examination of [the administration’s] claims reveals a series of convolutedly worded characterizations of the intelligence that don’t really mean what they appear to say at first glance,” wrote Truthout’s Gareth Porter.
“The document displays multiple indications that the integrity of the assessment process was seriously compromised by using language that distorted the intelligence in ways that would justify an attack on Syria.”
For starters, the summary says, “We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence.”
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