May 30, 2017
The New York
the Events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017:
NONE of the Cited Forensic Evidence Supports the Claims
Theodore A. Postol
Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
On April 26, 2017 the New York Times released a video titled How Syria and Russia Spun a Chemical Strike. This video provides extensive forensic evidence that the New York Times used to develop its conclusions about an alleged nerve agent attack in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017. In this report, I show that NONE of the forensic evidence in the New York Times video and a follow-on Times news article supports the conclusions reported by the New York Times.
The forensic evidence and analytical claims in all of these reports can be traced back to a single source, an organization called Bellingcat. This organization represents itself as “specializing in analyzing information posted online.” As will be shown in what follows, not a single claim made by Bellingcat is supported by the forensic evidence it used to reach its conclusions.
The particular evidence of concern in this report are claims made by Bellingcat about three sites that were attacked by air on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun with general-purpose bombs. Bellingcat’s claims about forensic evidence of an alleged sarin release in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017 are addressed in my previous report, The Human Rights Watch Report of May 1,2017 Cites Evidence that Disaffirms Its Own Conclusions About the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on April 4,2017, issued on May 8, 2017. This earlier report shows that Bellingcat’s claims of forensic proof for the sarin release site is based on evidence that does not exist.
This report shows that NONE of the bomb-damage areas identified by Bellingcat and shown in the New York Times video show any indication of bomb damage from 500 to 1000 pound bombs. That is, the data from a composite panoramic view that is the foundation of the Bellingcat and New York Times analyses is clearly and unambiguously inconsistent with the claims of bomb damage from before and after satellite photographs used in the same analyses. In fact NONE of the forensic data claimed by Bellingcat and the New York Times as evidence of general-purpose bomb damage on April 4 supports the conclusions that are said to have been derived from the forensic data. In all, when these false claims about information provided in the forensic data are brought together with the claims about a sarin release site, the conclusion is inescapable that all of the evidence referred to by Bellingcat in the New York Times contains no forensic proof to support their narrative.
Thus, the narratives put forward by the New York Times, and the closely related Human Rights Watch report of May 1, are all based on forensic evidence and conclusions that are unambiguously false.
The specific problems with the forensic analysis produced by Bellingcat are as follows:
If that does turn out to be an apt analogy, it's hardly surprising that this is happening in many respects.
The crimes of Watergate came out of the Vietnam War, though this is poorly understood. The Watergate “plumbers“ were originally set up to plug the leaks about the Vietnam War.
And so, with the rise of the imperial presidency, it was hardly surprising that someone like Nixon would use the mechanisms of Empire -- the capacity for secrecy, for surveillance and for violence -- for his own political purposes. Indeed, Hoover, atop the FBI, had been doing so for decades.
The late Watergate historian Stanley Kutler writes in his book Abuse of Power that Nixon railed to his aides about papers regarding the Vietnam War that he thought were at the then liberal Brookings Institution.
“I want it implemented…. God damn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”
The documents Nixon apparently wanted to get hold of allegedly showed that Johnson curtailed the bombing of Vietnam in 1968 to boost the Democrats’ election prospects of winning the election that year.
A great irony now is that the establishment Democrats are going after Trump in a number of personal ways, but collude in others, and indeed stiffen up his use of violence. When Trump uses military violence in Yemen or Syria, he is lauded by presumed liberals like Van Jones and Fareed Zakaria as presidential.
The secrecy and the surveillance are sold to the public as necessary for their own protection, but the opposite is true. The little known Katharine Gun case highlights how the actual target of surveillance is frequently not "terrorism", but the threat of peace.
So, the Trump administration's ridiculous claims about the reasons for the Comey firing are fairly similar to the lying pretexts that U.S. officialdom used to justify the Iraq invasion. Empire is compatible with democracy only with a series of dehumanizing triple standards. It's fine there, just don't do it here.
In terms of Trump's own crimes, he is quite impeachable on the domestic emoluments clause, but the establishment Democrats seem quite uninterested in pursuing that.
They have focused on his apparent ties to Russia. There may well be something there, Trump is a corrupt figure and it's well within his capacities to engage in massive, if at times possibly buffoonish, coverup. But it is incredibly dangerous that the establishment Democrats seem intent on risking escalations with the other major nuclear power on the planet so they can beat Trump over the head.
Hard time sleeping in Berlin...
With Comey firing, my mind is going to how nefarious foreign policy instruments eventually get turned against political opponents. But the political culture cares not for the fp dimension bc the victims are non people.
Nixons "plumbers" originally stopped leaks re Vietnam War. ... Katharine Gun exposed how the target of surveillance is not "terrorism", but threat of peace in Iraq. ...
Greenwald wrote: "In fact, the idea of collecting everything was something pioneered by Gen. Alexander when he was deployed in Baghdad during the Iraq war. What we really have now is a communications strategy that was developed for an enemy population in a time of war that has now been imported onto American soil and aimed at our own population. I think that’s an expression of just how radical it is.”
God knows the result of the massive surveillance in Iraq. Hard to know, but I suspect any political actor not going along with US was targeted in one way or another.
Comey firing ridiculous pretexts remind me of fairly typical ridiculous US fp pretexts -- but they are generally accepted in that arena. Empire is compatible with democracy only with a series of dehumanizing triple standards.
But what gets me is that we don't talk about other people being prosecuted by the state for religiously inspired actions. When religious folks fought against slavery, their religious motivation was properly cited by them and others (I think).
Years ago, I wrote a piece for the media watch group FAIR about how the major media ignore the religious left. But part of the reason for that is that frequently the left -- including at times even the religious left -- ignores the religious left.
Of course, lots of people are "against" drone killing in that they might say something about it, blog about it, tweet about it. What's interesting about what's going on in upstate New York is that they are confronting it, frequently facing jail time. (They are hardly alone in this -- as I write, activist Desiree Fairooz of CodePink is facing jail time for laughing at Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearings.)
Similarly, "Democracy Now" headlines a segment: "'It Has Not Gone Well': 100 Days of President Trump and No Major Achievements."
It certainly hasn't gone well, but Trump has in fact accomplished a great deal. Neil Gorsuch was put on the Supreme Court using the rhetoric of "pro-life" and has already facilitated death. His ascension basically consolidates rightwing control over all three branches of government.
Trump has assembled a incredible cabinet of corporate bosses and Wall Street and pro-war apparatchiks.
He has adroitly broken the letter and spirit of virtually any positive promises he made to curtail U.S. interventionism and warmaking around the world; to take on Wall Street; to up taxes on the wealthy, etc. He appears to be escalating Obama's war on whistleblowers to a war on publishers.
This is a phenomenal accomplishment.
Trump could be carrying out horrific policies and many would ignore that if he just makes a dumb comment. Oh, wait, that's what's happening. He can bomb human beings in any nation and it gets minimal coverage because -- stop the presses -- the White House misidentified Steven Mnuchin as "commerce secretary" when he's actually treasury secretary.
And betrayal into trust
Can any human being become part of the truth.
Trump won the 2016 nomination and election largely because he was able to pose as a populist and anti-interventionist "America Firster".
Similarly, Obama won the 2008 election in good part because he promised "hope and change" and because he had given a speech years earlier against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.
Short of disclosure of diaries or other documents from these politicians, we can't know for certain if they planned on reversing much of what they promised or if the political establishment compelled them to change, but they both eventually perpetrated a massive fraud.
What is perhaps most striking is actually how quickly each of them backtracked on their alleged purpose. Particular since they were both proclaimed as representing "movements".
After Martin Luther King, Jr was denounced by major media following his April 4, 1967 speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, he actually responded in stronger terms, including in this Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967:
Excerpts on YouTube:
The sermon which I am preaching this morning in a sense is not the usual kind of sermon, but it is a sermon and an important subject, nevertheless, because the issue that I will be discussing today is one of the most controversial issues confronting our nation. I'm using as a subject from which to preach, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam."
Now, let me make it clear in the beginning, that I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free." Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.