But how much of the evidence of the chemical attack has actually been independently confirmed? My guest today charges that the evidence offered by the US to justify its military response is entirely false.
That report, charges my guest today, Theodore A. Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), cannot possibly be accurate. Furthermore, he says, the April 11 White House Report (WHR), as he details in now four separate analyses he has issued since its release, "was not properly vetted by the intelligence community."
"The report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft," as the White House has claimed, Postol finds in his initial analysis (PDF]), based on phographic evidence of the crater said to have been caused when Syria dropped a chemical munition. "In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity."
On the day of Trump's retaliatory attack on Syria, Peter Ford, Britain's former Ambassador to Syria expressed skepticism on BBC News about Assad being behind the chemical attack ("Assad may be cruel, brutal, but he's not mad. It defies belief that he would bring this all on his head for no military advantage," he told BBC at the time.) But in the US mainstream media, no such skepticism has been explored, despite well known misleading intelligence used to justify US military action in the recent past, such as during the lead-up to the Iraq War (which, in turn, opened the door to so much of the violence and war in the Middle East ever since, including in Syria.)
"We again have a situation where the White House has issued an obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report," Postol argues in his first report on the April 4 incident, issued after studying photographic evidence presented by the White House or otherwise publicly available. "What I can say for sure herein is that what the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true (emphasis in original) and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security."
Even the New York Times, which, Postol tells me today, used to cover his analyses in detail, have not bothered to contact him this time — even to debunk his claims — for reasons that remain unknown, despite his past track record. In fact, I've been able to find little if any coverage that attempts to debunk his assertions in response to the WHR.
"It is very disturbing to see how uncritical the mainstream press has been of this matter," Postol tells me today. "From my point of view, this may be the most serious event — with regard to American democracy — from this whole incident. Because the only way American democracy can function is if the press performs the role of providing accurate information, and also raising questions if those questions deserve to be looked at. And there's no question here that the questions deserved to be looked at."
Writing over the weekend, in his 4th report (PDF) on the matter, Postol charged: "Without an independent media providing accurate and unbiased information to the nation's citizens, the government can do what it chooses without being concerned about the reactions of citizens who elected it. The critical function of the mainstream media in the current situation should be to investigate and report the facts that clearly and unambiguously contradict the government's claims on this matter."
Though we are hardly "mainstream media", we do our best today to fill a bit of the vacuum left by the woefully credulous US reportage on this event — particularly since it's virtually impossible to know what really went on in the absence of independent investigation — as the US enters yet another war in the Middle East.
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