By Jonathan Cook
June 27, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, the man who exposed the Mai Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and the US military’s abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004, is probably the most influential journalist of the modern era, with the possible exception of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the pair who exposed Watergate.
Imagine how effective Woodward and Bernstein would have been in bringing down Richard Nixon had they been able to publish their Watergate investigations only in the French media. That is the situation we have reached now with Hersh’s efforts to scrutinise the west’s self-serving claims about Syria.
As for the substance of Hersh’s investigation, he finds that Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base in April “despite having been warned by the US intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.”
In fact, Hersh reveals that, contrary to the popular narrative, the Syrian strike on a jihadist meeting place in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 was closely coordinated beforehand between Russian and US intelligence agencies. The US were well apprised of what would happen and tracked the events.
Hersh’s sources in the intelligence establishment point out that these close contacts occurred for two reasons. First, there is a process known as “deconfliction”, designed to avoid collisions or accidental encounters between the US, Syrian and Russian militaries, especially in the case of their supersonic jets. The Russians therefore supplied US intelligence with precise details of that day’s attack beforehand. But in this case, the coordination also occurred because the Russians wanted to warn the US to keep away a CIA asset, who had penetrated the jihadist group, from that day’s meeting.
“This was not a chemical weapons strike,” a senior adviser to the US intelligence community told Hersh. “That’s a fairy tale. If so, everyone involved in transferring, loading and arming the weapon … would be wearing Hazmat protective clothing in case of a leak. There would be very little chance of survival without such gear.”
“Eso no fue un ataque con armas quimicas, dijo a Seymour Hersh un veterano asesor de la comunidad de inteligencia de los EEUU. Ese es un cuento de hadas. Si en realidad se tratara de eso todo mundo involucrado en la transferencia, la carga y activacion del arma…estaria usando ropa protectora Hazmat en caso de que hubiera una fuga. Sin esa proteccion habria muy poca posibilidad de sobrevivencia.”
According to US intelligence, Hersh reports, the Syrian air force was able to target the site using a large, conventional bomb supplied by the Russians. But if Assad did not use a chemical warhead, why did many people apparently die at Khan Sheikhoun from inhalation of toxic gas?
The US intelligence community, says Hersh, believes the bomb triggered secondary explosions in a storage depot in the building’s basement that included propane gas, fertilisers, insecticides as well as “rockets, weapons and ammunition, … [and] chlorine-based decontaminants for cleansing the bodies of the dead before burial”. These explosions created a toxic cloud that was trapped close to the ground by the dense early morning air.
La comunidad de inteligencia, dice Hersh, cree que la bomba produjo explosiones secundarias en el almacen del sotano del edificio donde habian gas propano, fertilizantes, insecticidas, como tambien cohetes, armas y municiones…[y] decontaminantes con clorina usados en la limpieza de los cadaveres de los muertos antes del sepelio. Esas explosiones generaron una nube toxica que quedo atrapada cerca de la tierra por el aire denso de la maniana.
Medecins Sans Frontieres found patients it treated “smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.” Sarin is odourless. Medicos Sin Fronteras noto que los pacientes que atendio “olian a cloro, sugeriendo que estos habian sido expuestos a clorina.” El gas Sarin no tiene olor.
Hersh concludes that the.Hersh concluye que,
evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin. La evidencia sugiere que alli habia mas de una substancia quimica responsable de los sintomas observados, y ese no hubiera sido el caso si la Fuerza Aerea Siria–como alegaban los activistas de la oposicion—hubiera arrojado una bomba de gas Sarin, que no tiene poder percusivo o de ignicion para provocar explosiones secundarias. La gama de sintomas es, sin embargo, consistente con la emision de una mezcla de quimicas, incluyendo clorina y organo-fosfatos utilizados en muchos fertilizantes, que pueden causar efectos neurotoxicos similares al Sarin.
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