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Title: White House Officials Misstate the Number of Chemical Attacks by Assad
Source: Weekly Standard
URL Source: http://www.weeklystandard.com/white ... tacks-by-assad/article/2007653
Published: Apr 14, 2017
Author: Jeryl Bier
Post Date: 2017-04-14 14:21:59 by Tooconservative
Keywords: None
Views: 2555
Comments: 16

In the aftermath of the chemical weapons attacks in Idlib province and the subsequent response of cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airbase authorized by President Trump, both National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have asserted that the Syrian government has perpetrated in excess of 50 chemical weapons attacks going back to 2013. In September of that year, Bashar al-Assad struck a deal, with Russia's assistance, to rid Syria of chemical weapons to avoid air strikes threatened by then-President Obama. However, the actual number of confirmed chemical attacks by the regime appears to be significantly lower than McMaster and Tillerson claimed, and the documentation provided to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by the State Department actually refers to chemical attacks by ISIS, not the Syrian regime.

The reference to 50 attacks was made first by McMaster on April 6 at a joint appearance with Secretary Tillerson in Palm Beach, Florida, after the cruise missile strikes. In response to a question about how the cruise missile strikes might affect Assad's ability to carry out chemical attacks, McMaster said:
"Obviously, the regime will maintain the certain capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons, we think, beyond this particular airfield. ... I think what is critical is that—is with the—the President's decision in response to this mass murderous—mass murder attack, but also in the context of all the previous attacks that have occurred—I think over 50; I think it's over 50 chemical attacks previously—post 2013 when the UN resolution went into effect."

When asked that evening about the source of the "over 50 attacks" figure, the State Department referred questions to the White House. Over the next several days, however, the White House ignored several requests for documentation of the claim.

Then in Moscow on Wednesday, April 12, at a press briefing with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, a reporter asked Secretary Tillerson about the harsh rhetoric coming from the Trump administration regarding Syrian president Assad. Tillerson responded:

"Well, I think the perspective from the United States, supported by the facts that we have, are conclusive that the recent chemical weapons attack carried out in Syria was planned and it was directed and executed by Syrian regime forces, and we're quite confident of that. This is just the latest in a series of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, notwithstanding their use on more than 50 occasions of chlorine bombs, and cluster bombs, and other types of weapons that are intended to maim and kill in the most horrific ways. So I think the characterization is one that President Assad has brought upon himself."

This time when asked about the source of the 50 attacks claim, the State Department directed THE WEEKLY STANDARD to Page 16 of the statement of Gen. Joseph L. Votel, Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 9, 2017. While updating the committee on Operation Inherent Resolve, Gen. Votel said (emphasis added):
...ISIS' use of chemical weapons and its evolving application of available off-the-shelf technologies that include unmanned aerial systems now used for both observation and to achieve lethal effects, poses a growing threat. For example, ISIS has reportedly used chemicals, including sulfur mustard and toxic industrial chemicals, in attacks more than 50 times in Iraq and Syria since 2014. Although the threat of chemical weapons has not slowed the Counter-ISIS Campaign, ISIS could further develop its chemical weapons capability.

When asked about the discrepancy and if the error might undermine the administration's case, a State Department spokesperson replied, "We can't speak for Votel or McMaster, or the Administration as a whole. That's a question for NSC [National Security Council] and DoD [Defense Department]." The spokesperson did not respond to a further question about whether Secretary Tillerson would stand by his remarks despite the problem with the source for his remarks.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD also contacted the White House again for comment on the discrepancy, and this time an NSC official responded and acknowledged McMaster's misstatement:
[Lieutenant Gen.] McMaster provided an estimate based on recollection during the discussion, but our official assessment is that that Syria has conducted more than 30 attacks using chemicals as a means of warfare since 2013. Although many additional allegations are credible, we have insufficient information to reach a judgment.

The White House has not yet responded to a follow up request for documentation of the 30 attacks cited by the NSC official given that the original claim of 50-plus attacks was in reality a reference to attacks by ISIS and not the Syrian regime.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD also reached out to CENTCOM for the source of Gen. Votel's statement that "ISIS has reportedly used chemicals, including sulfur mustard and toxic industrial chemicals, in attacks more than 50 times in Iraq and Syria" on March 9. CENTCOM has not yet responded.


Poster Comment:

A fairly shocking admission coming from a neocon flagship that undoubtedly celebrated the missile strike on Assad and want him deposed by any means possible.

Given what a pack of warmongers the Standard always is, there must be some very serious intel failures and general sloppiness involved, probably much more extensive than these basic (but crucial) factual errors.

And if Tillerson and McMaster flubbed the most basic facts so badly, just how thorough are their current accusations against Assad, particularly when they refuse to produce evidence to support their accusations against Russia and Syria (neither of which should be considered "Good Guys" because they aren't).

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#1. To: A Pole, Deckard (#0)

So they are mistakenly assigning blame for 50 ISIS gas/WMD attacks to Assad. And they persisted in this error even after the press started asking questions pointedly.

Interesting datapoint, I think.

What did they know and when did they know it when they were persuading Trump to take their word for Assad's guilt? Just what did they tell Trump and how much of it was true or just "misremembered"?

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-04-14   14:34:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Tooconservative (#1)

So they are mistakenly assigning blame for 50 ISIS gas/WMD attacks to Assad. And they persisted in this error even after the press started asking questions pointedly.

You know the difference between mistake and a lie, don't you?

Thank you for the ping.

A Pole  posted on  2017-04-14   14:55:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: A Pole (#2)

You know the difference between mistake and a lie, don't you?

Well, I'd like to think so.

It is somewhat startling to read this piece, coming from such a notorious neocon source. And somehow, all the rest of the American media, supposedly following this case very closely, missed these crucial facts.

Maybe they wanted to miss those crucial facts so they didn't disturb a propaganda narrative. Or maybe they're just too busy catfighting each other on Twitter to pay attention to disturbing lapses in the official narrative, like the one exposed in this article.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-04-14   15:11:21 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: A Pole (#2)

You know the difference between mistake and a lie, don't you?

A mistake is what they call it when the lie has been found out.

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Deckard  posted on  2017-04-14   15:12:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Tooconservative (#0)

Alternate text if image doesn't load

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” - Ron Paul

Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

Deckard  posted on  2017-04-14   15:19:17 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#6. To: Deckard (#5)

I wasn't soliciting cartoons so much as raising the question of what Trump was told by this "misremembering" national security advisor when Trump was making the decision to launch missiles.

Was he told, "Assad has launched over 50 gas/WMD attacks against the America-loving freedom-fighter rebels"?

Was he told a more nuanced version of "the rebels attacked Assad/civilians 50 times while Assad attacked the rebels/civilians 30 times"?

What Trump was told becomes a lot more important when the two most important advisors are caught spewing lies.

And this is a lot more serious source than most of the ones you offer. Weekly Standard is Neocon Central. No one out-neocons them.

It does raise the question of what basis and information Trump committed a warlike act against the Syrian government (who is itself an acknowledged victim of ISIS chemical warfare attacks).

There's a smoking gun there if anyone wants to pick it up. However, given how giddy even the supposed Trump-hating media is over Trump's missile volley, I don't expect much in the way of followup on this story.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-04-14   15:28:52 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#7. To: Tooconservative (#6)

Pretty sure Trump was shown the dead children and babies, shown the clear evidence that THIS attack was done by Assad, and that's all he cared about. He undertook a reprisal, and now the whole world, including Assad, Xi and Putin, are figuring out how to appease Trump on the matter.

The answer is easy: Don't do it again. That's it. That's all. There's nothing bigger, grander than that.

It was an effective strike because its goal was narrow: punish and dissuade. It did both in spades.

Behavior has been influenced going forward, and Trump has seen how effective surprise attacks are at rattling everybody.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-04-14   17:21:40 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#8. To: Vicomte13, A Pole, Deckard, paraclete (#7)

Pretty sure Trump was shown the dead children and babies, shown the clear evidence that THIS attack was done by Assad, and that's all he cared about. He undertook a reprisal, and now the whole world, including Assad, Xi and Putin, are figuring out how to appease Trump on the matter.

Maybe you just wish to believe that. It's just as credible a theory that Trump gave in to Ivanka's tears over The Babies (for which we do have some insider support via Eric Trump saying that Ivanka got Trump to launch the missiles).

As far as McMaster and Tillerson making this serious factual error multiple times around the time they were both at Mar A Lago convincing Trump to launch the attack, that is no minor matter. Did they tell Trump this? Did they ever bother to mention the times that ISIS has attacked Assad with mustard and chlorine and toxic industrial gases? These are important details, a lot more important than your favored narrative about Trump punching a genocidal dictator in the nose, much to the applause of the Trump-hating Western media. And at the same time, he softens up on NATO. And on the Import-Export Bank. And on the Federal Reserve. And on China's currency manipulation and its control over NKorea. None is this is what Trump campaigned on.

So Trump doesn't know anything or read anything and he doesn't seem to have much character or consistency about anything except trying to heap adulation on himself.

But perhaps far worse, his advisors, so prized for their educations and military pedigree, are spouting demonstrably false "facts" to justify the attack on Assad.

Did Trump's primary advisors quote these "misremembered" falsehoods to Trump when convincing him to launch the missile attack on Assad? Or do you even care?

This is comparable to the CIA under George Tenet telling Bush that Saddam had WMD and posed a menace to America and Colin Powell making an utter fool of himself in peddling false intel to the United Nations on global television. In this case, we've already caught Tillerson and McMaster repeatedly uttering falsehoods based on "misremembered" (alleged) facts. They can't even keep their stories straight.

If you think this is a sign of Trump's prowess in foreign policy, I think you're in for a rude awakening.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-04-14   17:44:15 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#9. To: A Pole, Deckard, paraclete (#2)

I found an old training manual online from the Army back in 1957, dealing with calculating the dosing of GB (sarin) over an area using various artillery rounds and a 4.5" rocket.

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3435175/US-Army-TC-3-3-GB-Ammunition-Requirements-for.pdf

Make sure you study for the test questions at the end.

It seems to me that this U.S. Army manual would not expect very good results from just a single shell/bomb. Maybe shell technology to disperse gas is better now but it probably hasn't advanced a lot since we got rid of most of our gas weapons back in the Sixties.

The manual has some interesting background info.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-04-14   22:25:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#10. To: Deckard (#4)

You know the difference between mistake and a lie, don't you?

A mistake is what they call it when the lie has been found out.

Truer words were never spoken!

rlk  posted on  2017-04-14   22:49:28 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#11. To: All, A Pole, Deckard, paraclete (#9)

I found an interesting open-source crowd-sourced investigation site that focuses on Ukraine and Syria.

Bellingcat.com

Glance through if you have some time. Seems like an independent bunch from what I've read so far. They don't seem connected with NATO or Russia or anyone else.

Lots of info on using sarin and VX, on a lot of the staged propaganda photos in Ukraine and Syria, hacking articles on tools to detect and enter the Dark Web, etc. These seem to be connected with the "autists" on 4Chan (autistic people who love/obsess over solving complex problems based on extremely minimal info like the background of various photos, stuff that ordinary journalists would never pursue).

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-04-15   10:11:35 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#12. To: Tooconservative (#11)

I found an interesting open-source crowd-sourced investigation site that focuses on Ukraine and Syria.

Bellingcat.com

Glance through if you have some time. Seems like an independent bunch from what I've read so far. They don't seem connected with NATO or Russia or anyone else.

Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, Who is He? Everything You Need to Know...

A Pole  posted on  2017-04-15   13:48:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#13. To: Tooconservative (#8)

Unappeasables can never be satisfied.

Vicomte13  posted on  2017-04-15   14:00:50 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#14. To: A Pole (#12) (Edited)

Interesting info on Higgins. I notice he seems closely associated with SyrianArchive.org. Maybe that is just another outlet for his news stories as they do share some content and they promote each other. Maybe this is a minor clickbait factory.

The problem with the reporting on Ukraine and Syria is just how few honest investigators there are and so much propaganda on both sides. It's very frustrating to get reliable information of any kind.

In the end, you're reduced to "should I believe their liars or our liars?".

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-04-15   14:08:59 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#15. To: Tooconservative (#14)

In the end, you're reduced to "should I believe their liars or our liars?".

If you want to get some pieces of truth, you need to piece it out of different sources by comparing, analyzing etc ... Hard work, detective work.

You should not believe anyone, unless a source has history of integrity and courage and even then you need to be watchful.

A Pole  posted on  2017-04-15   14:21:24 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#16. To: A Pole (#15)

" You should not believe anyone, unless a source has history of integrity and courage and even then you need to be watchful. "

Very true !!

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.

Never Pick A Fight With An Old Man He Will Just Shoot You He Can't Afford To Get Hurt

I am concerned for the security of our great nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within." -- General Douglas MacArthur

Stoner  posted on  2017-04-17   9:48:10 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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