Published On: Mon, Apr 10th, 2017

Did Trump dismiss and misrepresent intelligence that disproves Syrian chemical weapons attack narrative?

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In recent days there has been some revelatory material published on the internet about the decision making process leading up to Trump’s Syrian “spasm” which resulted in a shower of cruise missiles hitting an airfield in Homs province last week. When this material is pieced together, it paints a picture of a pig-headed and arrogant Donald Trump knowing better (by TV?) than real-world intelligence gathering, and all for the petty sake of an upgrading of his standing with the US media. Now, Trump’s motivation as just stated could, of course, be interpretation, and if anyone has a preconceived idea about Trump’s vanity and stupidity, they might believe him capable of being influenced by neocon advice and pressure to come around to the thinking of the likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham – not to mention Hillary Clinton. The author thinks that underestimation is a terrible mistake, and we shouldn’t make any excuses. In any case, Trump’s motivation is not really the important issue under discussion. The big news is that Trump appears to have been told that the incident at Khan Sheikhu was indeed due to a Syrian plane inadvertently striking a terrorist chemicals store (as the Russians said it was), but decided to ignore the advice, and worse than that – if it is true – may have down played or disguised the advice in a top-level meeting about US reprisals.

The trail starts with former CIA officer Ray McGovern, who appeared on RT and explained that his intelligence and military contacts (former colleagues) are convinced about the inadvertent Syrian airstrike scenario (see the video here). He expressed a desire that this truth find its way up to the President without hindrance by any who would like to see disruption “to get rid of Assad”.

We learnt a little bit more from Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, in a radio interview with Scott Horton (hear it here). The show notes are reproduced here so that the author can save time transcribing huge tracts (which Robert Parry’s “Trump’s Wag the Dog Moment” article does contain):

Philip Giraldi… says that “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,” instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility. Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative and are considering going public out of concern over the danger of worse war there. Giraldi also observes that the Assad regime had no motive to do such a thing at this time.

Again, the certainty, of a pertinent section of the intelligence community, as to the blamelessness of the Syrians is reiterated – so much so that we are given to understand that people are being driven to some drastic measures. As dramatic as this all is, the most important quote of all from Giraldi is not mentioned in the above extract.  Giraldi said “Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known, but maybe didn’t” – and this is appears to be the root of the deep concern held by certain intelligence and military personnel who are familiar with what is meant to be “very clear” intelligence.

So, the claim is that if Trump knew about the intelligence, then he misrepresented it. To whom he may have done this isn’t established in the Giraldi interview, but this might become apparent later. First of all, Trump’s knowledge of the intelligence – or not – must be established.

Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets), serving in the Department of Defense for many years. He wrote an article that appeared at Global Research that implied that Trump did know that intelligence gatherers were certain of the accidental chemicals release scenario. He wrote:

There are members of the U.S. military who were aware that this strike would occur and it was recorded. There is a film record. At least the Defense Intelligence Agency knows that this was not a chemical weapon attack… the intelligence community had information showing that there was no chemical weapon launched by the Syrian Air Force.

This is a confirmation of Giraldi’s information, and it starts to explain how military intelligence operatives would know the true nature of the Khan Sheikhu incident. The author infers that the US military knew about a terrorist store in the locality. Lang continues:

This attack was violation of international law. Donald Trump authorized an unjustified attack on a sovereign country. What is even more disturbing is that people like Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and NSA Director General McMaster went along with this charade. Front line troops know the truth. These facts will eventually come out. Donald Trump will most likely not finish his term as President. He will be impeached, I believe, once Congress is presented with irrefutable proof that he ignored and rejected intelligence that did not support the myth that Syria attacked with chemical weapons.

And so here is an implication that Donald Trump had been given information pertaining to the true situation at Khan Sheikhu – and he had rejected it. Notice that Lang expresses astonishment at Trump’s staff allowing him to proceed on the basis of faulty intelligence. Well, McMaster is characterised as an “old-line neocon” and so, if we go by stereotypes, we might not imagine that he would try very hard to stop Trump. Mattis has reportedly been at odds with Trump over the range of his power in the role.

As for Pompeo, there is a theory that he actually didn’t agree with Trump’s reaction to a briefing in which Pompeo had set out the true facts of the matter as discussed above. This is all explored in a number of articles by Robert Parry (the following quotes are all from “Where Was CIA’s Pompeo on Syria?” – to be found here), who noticed that Pompeo and other top intelligence officials were missing from a White House-released photo showing President Trump and advisers meeting at Trump’s estate in Mar-a-Lago after his decision to attack Syria with the 59-strong missile strike. The image chimed with information that Parry had had regarding a “discordant Pompeo-Trump meeting”.  This is what he writes:

A source told me that Pompeo had personally briefed Trump on April 6 about the CIA’s belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was likely not responsible for the lethal poison-gas incident in northern Syria two days earlier.

He continues:

As strange as the Trump administration has been in its early months, it was hard for me to believe that Trump would have listened to the CIA’s views and then shooed the director away from the larger meeting before launching a military strike against a country not threatening America.

Parry’s source could explain:

Pompeo was excluded from the larger meeting as Trump reached a contrary decision.

The author infers from this that Trump not only may have rejected Pompeo’s briefing before, but then left him out of the top-level meeting (the larger meeting) to decide on reprisals against Syria. Moreover, according to the source:

The other officials [in the larger meerting] didn’t get the direct word from Pompeo but rather received a second-hand account from the President.

Could this be the misrepresentation referred to by Giraldi? If this is all true, and Parry says that it still remains uncertain that Trump didshunt.. Pompeo aside to eliminate an obstacle to his desire to launch the April 6 rocket attack”, we get a picture of Trump being quite a dangerous and conniving character – and for the sake of what? To win the support of the corporate-media (while risking his base; showing contempt for it, in fact)? Or is Trump just conforming to type to get what he wants, irrespective of any remembrance of any election pledge or regard for Constitution that might otherwise dissuade him?

Parry finishes his article thusly, and it provides a perfect note to end this one:

Such a dangerous deception more than anything else we’ve seen in the first two-plus months of the Trump administration would be grounds for impeachment – ignoring the opinion of the U.S. intelligence community so the President could carry out a politically popular (albeit illegal) missile strike that killed Syrians.

 

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