Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
The news-report that the famed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh could not find an American publisher for, and that was consequently published only in Britain, has now been publicly confirmed by a research study into the matter, a study whose findings were made public on October 21st by a committee of Turkey’s parliament and published that day in Turkey’s leading newspaper, Zaman.
The question being investigated here was who caused the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, Syria, on 21 August 2013, that killed over a thousand victims, and that U.S. President Barack Obama has used as his basis for going to war to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad?
Hersh’s article, in the London Review of Books, on 17 April 2014, was titled “The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels.” Hersh found that (quoting here the key parts, and providing [in brackets], from me, the necessary clarifications so that the reader can more easily understand what Hersh was saying):
A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for [Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin] Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described ‘the acute anxiety’ of the [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan administration about the [U.S.-Turkey-Saudi-Qatari-backed] rebels’ dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed ‘the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response’. [In other words: Turkey’s leader, Erdoğan, ‘expressed’ to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, that they needed to do something that would ‘precipitate a US military response’ against the man Erdoğan wanted to bring down, Assad. He was advising what’s called by the intelligence-services a ‘false-flag attack.’ Erdoğan wanted a false-flag attack, so as to enable U.S. President Barack Obama to have a publicly believable excuse for invading Syria and doing what Erdoğan wanted done.] … In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ [I.e.: The Joint Chiefs had underestimated the President’s determination to bring down Assad.] … Obama’s change of mind [weakening his ardor against Assad] had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack. … Obama’s premise [‘premise’ here might instead have been just the tactful way for Hersh to say ‘excuse,’ which would have been even more unpublishable to apply to the President inside the U.S.; Hersh here avoids saying that the President was simply lying] – that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin – was unravelling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analysed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down [the testing lab for Britain’s CIA-equivalent, MI6]. … The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a … serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. [In other words: if he were to invade on that basis, the fakery of his excuse might become publicly known.] It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout – the story the press corps told [and Hersh is here pouring contempt upon America’s ‘press corps,’ as being nothing but stenographers for the White House] – was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he’d been in conflict for years. …
Here is an excerpt from the Today’s Zaman news report, which confirmed Hersh’s findings that this had been a false-flag attack, by people on Obama’s side, to ‘justify’ a U.S. attack in order to bring down Assad:
CHP [Turkey’s leading secularist Party, in opposition to Turkey’s Sunni Islamist leader, President Erdoğan] deputy Şeker spoke after [his CHP colleague] Erdem, pointing out that the government misled the public on the issue [of who caused the 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria] by asserting that sarin was provided by Russia [which is a country that both Erdoğan and Obama want to defeat]. The purpose [of the government’s lie] was to create the perception that, according to Şeker, “Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a US military intervention in Syria.”
He also underlined that all of the files and evidence from the investigation show a war crime was committed within the borders of the Turkish Republic.
“The investigation clearly indicates that those people who smuggled the chemicals required to procure sarin faced no difficulties, proving that Turkish intelligence was aware of their activities. While these people had to be in prison for their illegal acts, not a single person is in jail. Former prime ministers and the interior minister should be held accountable for their negligence in the incident,” Şeker further commented.
Erdem also added that he will launch a criminal complaint against those responsible, including those who issued a verdict of non-prosecution in the case, those who did not prevent the transfer of chemicals, and those who first ordered the arrest of the suspects who were later released.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced in late August that an inquiry had been launched into the gas attacks allegedly perpetuated by both Assad’s Syrian regime and rebel groups fighting in Syria since the civil war erupted in 2011.
However, Erdem is not the only figure who has accused Turkey of possible involvement in the gas attack. Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist, Seymour M. Hersh, argued in an article published in 2014 that MİT [Turkey’s version of America’s CIA] was involved with extremist Syrian groups fighting against the Assad regime.
In his article, Hersh said Assad was not behind the attack, as claimed by the US and Europe, but that Turkish-Syrian opposition collaboration was trying to provoke a US intervention in Syria in order to bring down the Assad regime.
That news story in Zaman was titled, “Gov’t rejects probe into Turkey’s role in Syrian chemical attack.” In other words: Erdoğan is refusing to cooperate with the CHP Party’s investigation into the matter.
Even prior to Hersh’s report, a detailed (and better-written) presentation of the case against Obama, which likewise reported that this was a “false flag” operation and that the anti-Russian forces (headed by Obama) were behind it, had been presented by the great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann. He had headlined on 7 October 2013 at his nsnbc news site, “Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria,” and he opened: “Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry.” (The U.S. has been allied with the Saudi royal family against Russia since 1945.) Lehmann went on to note that: “The CIA maintains a station, US Special Forces (JSOC) train insurgents, and several other US institutions are present in al-Mafraq. The point is of particular importance with regards to the visit of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Jordan, which will be detailed below. Al-Mafraq has been the major transit point for Saudi and U.S. arms shipments since 2012, and the delivery of advanced Saudi and U.S. weapons to the insurgents since early August 2013.” So: The U.S. President had been up to his eyeballs in the scheming to “precipitate a US military response,” as Hersh phrased the matter five months later. Obama desperately wanted to have a publicly-citable reason to invade Syria in 2013, just as Bush had desperately wanted to have a publicly-citable reason to invade Iraq in 2003. (And, in both instances, the U.S. ‘news’ media cooperated with the President’s scam. A detailed 14 January 2014 MIT analysis of the evidence, which proved that “the government’s interpretation of the technical intelligence it gathered prior to and after the August 21 attack cannot possibly be correct” was simply ignored by the U.S. ‘news’ media.)
All of the evidence indicates that U.S. President Obama and Turkey’s President Erdoğan were working together to create a case for America to bomb Syria until Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad would be gone, so that Assad’s government could then be replaced by a Sunni Islamist regime (like Erdoğan wants), which would be hostile to Russia and which would thus enable in Syria the construction of pipelines so that gas from U.S.-allied Sunni Qatar and oil from U.S.-allied Sunni Saudi Arabia might take the place of Russia’s oil and gas in the world’s biggest energy-market: Europe. It’s a joint operation both of the U.S. aristocracy, and of the Sunni Arabic royal families, basically a U.S.-Wahhabist operation.
Obama, Erdogan, Saudi King Abdullah, and Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, worked together in their joint effort to grab Europe’s oil-and-gas markets from Russia. For the Sunni Islamists it would be directly an economic benefit to the Sunni aristocrats who would be raking in extra billions, some of which would then fund yet more Sunni jihadists and clerics, to spread the Wahhabist Sunni faith yet further and thus satisfy the Sunni clerics and not only the national Sunni aristocracy; but, to Obama, this would mainly be just another way to cripple the Russian economy, to bring it down, which America’s aristocrats want to do. Syria’s overthrow would be a fitting sequel to Obama’s February 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, who, like Bashar al-Assad, refused to cooperate with U.S. plans to force Russia’s President Vladimir Putin out of office.
On 11 May 2015, Gabriel Sherman in the throw-away New York magazine, headlined, “Why Seymour Hersh’s ‘Alternative’ bin Laden History Did Not Appear in The New Yorker,” and he interviewed Hersh about (the anti-Russia propagandist and Obama-supporter) David Remnick, who is the editor of the New Yorker and who rejected Hersh’s article when it was presented to him. This time, Remnick had rejected an article by Hersh exposing Obama’s lies about the killing of bin Laden: Remnick’s earlier rejections of Hersh’s articles about Obama’s lies regarding Libya, and then regarding Syria (our topic here), had been totally ignored in U.S. ‘news’ media; but this Sherman article might as well have been about those, too. As a throw-away journalist, Mr. Sherman quotes nothing in response from Mr. Remnick. He only quotes more of Hersh, quoting Remnick’s response to Hersh’s findings: “David said, ‘Do a blog,’ Hersh recalled.” (Imagine: “Do a blog,” to tell the public a news story bigger and more important than almost any that the magazine publishes. What an insult that was to Hersh.)
Truths like Hersh’s recent articles report don’t seem to fit in a ‘news’ medium such as the New Yorker. Even if some readers of the New Yorker might want to know truths such as this, the owners of the magazine (who hire its editors) don’t want them to know such truths (which is why they hire such editors). Hersh apparently pretends not to understand that. He was quoted by Sherman as saying, “It’s about money,” meaning that Remnick just didn’t want to spend the money for such an article. Hersh isn’t that stupid. He knows that in America, journalists aren’t paid to expose political rot at the top of the nation’s aristocracy. Instead, the Russia-bashing must go on, truth-be-damned. If Putin doesn’t want to play ball with America’s aristocracy, this is the price he’ll have to pay, for holding out. The positions of Russia and its allies won’t be published in America. And being turned down by America’s press-lords is the price that independent journalists in America must pay, if they want to report the truth about international matters. Journalists know that, too. And a very few of them are willing to pay this price, in order to report the truth, regardless. Unlike what libertarians say, merit doesn’t get rewarded by the market, unless that ‘merit’ is in service to the aristocracy, rather than challenging its lies. So much for America’s ‘free press.’
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.