Did Al Qaeda Fool The White House Again?

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Robert Parry via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

In Official Washington, words rarely mean what they say. For instance, if a U.S. government official voices “high confidence” in a supposed “intelligence assessment,” that usually means “we don’t have any real evidence, but we figure that if we say ‘high confidence’ enough that no one will dare challenge us.”

Donald Trump speaking with the media at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. December 16, 2015. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

It’s also true that after a U.S. President or another senior official jumps to a conclusion that is not supported by evidence, the ranks of government careerists will close around him or her, making any serious or objective investigation almost impossible. Plus, if the dubious allegations are directed at some “enemy” state, then the mainstream media also will suppress skepticism. Prestigious “news” outlets will run “fact checks” filled with words in capital letters: “MISLEADING”; “FALSE”; or maybe “FAKE NEWS.”

Which is where things stand regarding President Trump’s rush to judgment within hours about an apparent chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib province on April 4. Despite the fact that much of the information was coming from Al Qaeda and its propaganda-savvy allies, the mainstream U.S. media rushed emotional images onto what Trump calls “the shows” – upon which he says he bases his foreign policy judgments – and he blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the scores of deaths, including “beautiful little babies,” as Trump declared.

Given the neocon/liberal-interventionist domination of Official Washington’s foreign policy – and the professional Western propaganda shops working for Assad’s overthrow – there was virtually no pushback against the quick formulation of this new groupthink. All the predictable players played their predictable parts, from The New York Times to CNN to the Atlantic Council-related Bellingcat and its “citizen journalists.”

All the Important People who appeared on the TV shows or who were quoted in the mainstream media trusted the images provided by Al Qaeda-related propagandists and ignored documented prior cases in which the Syrian rebels staged chemical weapons incidents to implicate the Assad government.

‘We All Know’

One smug CNN commentator pontificated, “we all know what happened in 2013,” a reference to the enduring conventional wisdom that an Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus was carried out by the Assad government and that President Obama then failed to enforce his “red line” against chemical weapons use. This beloved groupthink survives even though evidence later showed the operation was carried out by rebels, most likely by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front with help from Turkish intelligence, as investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported and brave Turkish officials later confirmed.

President Obama in the Oval Office

But Official Washington’s resistance to reality was perhaps best demonstrated one year ago when The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published a detailed article about Obama’s foreign policy that repeated the groupthink about Obama shrinking from his “red line” but included the disclosure that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had informed the President that U.S. intelligence lacked any “slam dunk” evidence that Assad’s military was guilty.

One might normally think that such a warning from DNI Clapper would have spared Obama from the media’s judgment that he had chickened out, especially given the later evidence pointing the finger of blame at the rebels. After all, why should Obama have attacked the Syrian military and killed large numbers of soldiers and possibly civilians in retaliation for a crime that they had nothing to do with – and indeed an offense for which the Assad government was being framed? But Official Washington’s propaganda bubble is impervious to inconvenient reality.

Nor does anyone seem to know that a United Nations report disclosed testimonies from eyewitnesses about how rebels and their allied “rescue workers” had staged one “chlorine attack” so it would be blamed on the Assad government. Besides these Syrians coming forward to expose the fraud, the evidence that had been advanced to “prove” Assad’s guilt included bizarre claims from the rebels and their friends that they could tell that chlorine was inside a “barrel bomb” because of the special sound that it made while it was descending.

Despite the exposure of that one frame-up, the U.N. investigators – under intense pressure from Western governments to give them something to pin on the Assad regime – accepted rebel claims about two other alleged chlorine attacks, an implausible finding that is now repeatedly cited by the Western media even as it ignores the case of the debunked “chlorine attack.” Again, one might think that proof of two staged chemical weapons attacks – one involving sarin and the other chlorine – would inject some skepticism about the April 4 case, but apparently not.

All that was left was for President Trump to “act presidential” and fire off 59 Tomahawk missiles at some Syrian airbase on April 6, reportedly killing several Syrian soldiers and nine civilians, including four children, collateral damage that the mainstream U.S. media knows not to mention in its hosannas of praise for Trump’s decisiveness.

Home-Free Groupthink

There might be some pockets of resistance to the groupthink among professional analysts at the CIA, but their findings – if they contradict what the President has already done – will be locked away probably for generations if not forever.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

In other words, the new Assad-did-it groupthink appeared to be home free, a certainty that The New York Times could now publish without having to add annoying words like “alleged” or “possibly,” simply stating Assad’s guilt as flat-fact.

Thomas L. Friedman, the Times’ star foreign policy columnist, did that and then extrapolated from his certainty to propose that the U.S. should ally itself with the jihadists fighting to overthrow Assad, a position long favored by U.S. “allies,” Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria?” Friedman asked before proposing outright support for the jihadists: “We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.”

So, not only have the mainstream U.S. media stars decided that they know what happen on April 4 in a remote Al Qaeda-controlled section of Idlib province (without seeing any real evidence) but they are now building off their groupthink to propose that the Trump administration hand out antiaircraft missiles to the “anti-Assad rebels” who, in reality, are under the command of Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State.

In other words, Friedman and other deep thinkers are advocating material support for terrorists who would get sophisticated American ground-to-air missiles that could shoot down Russian planes thus exacerbating already dangerous U.S.-Russian tensions or take down some civilian airliner as Al Qaeda has done in the past. If someone named Abdul had made such a suggestion, he could expect a knock on his door from the FBI.

Expert Skepticism

Yet, before President Trump takes Friedman’s advice – arming up Al Qaeda and entering into a de facto alliance with Islamic State – we might want to make sure that we aren’t being taken in again by a clever Al Qaeda psychological operation, another staged chemical weapons attack.

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman

With the U.S. intelligence community effectively silenced by the fact that the President has already acted, Theodore Postol, a technology and national security expert at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, undertook his own review of the supposed evidence cited by Trump’s White House to issue a four-page “intelligence assessment” on April 11 asserting with “high confidence” that Assad’s military delivered a bomb filled with sarin on the town of Khan Sheikdoun on the morning of April 4.

Postol, whose analytical work helped debunk Official Washington’s groupthink regarding the 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus, expressed new shock at the shoddiness of the latest White House report (or WHR). Postol produced “a quick turnaround assessment” of the April 11 report that night and went into greater detail in an addendum on April 13, writing:

“This addendum provides data that unambiguously shows that the assumption in the WHR that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct. This egregious error raises questions about every other claim in the WHR… The implication of this observation is clear – the WHR was not reviewed and released by any competent intelligence expert unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report.

Photograph of men in Khan Sheikdoun in Syria, allegedly inside a crater where a sarin-gas bomb landed

“The WHR also makes claims about ‘communications intercepts’ which supposedly provide high confidence that the Syrian government was the source of the attack. There is no reason to believe that the veracity of this claim is any different from the now verified false claim that there was unambiguous evidence of a sarin release at the cited crater… The evidence that unambiguously shows that the assumption that the sarin release crater was tampered with is contained in six photographs at the end of this document.”

Postol notes that one key photo “shows a man standing in the alleged sarin-release crater. He is wearing a honeycomb facemask that is designed to filter small particles from the air. Other apparel on him is an open necked cloth shirt and what appear to be medical exam gloves. Two other men are standing in front of him (on the left in the photograph) also wearing honeycomb facemask’s and medical exam gloves.

“If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin. The fact that these people were dressed so inadequately either suggests a complete ignorance of the basic measures needed to protect an individual from sarin poisoning, or that they knew that the site was not seriously contaminated.

“This is the crater that is the centerpiece evidence provided in the WHR for a sarin attack delivered by a Syrian aircraft.”

No ‘Competent’ Analyst

After reviewing other discrepancies in photos of the crater, Postol wrote: “It is hard for me to believe that anybody competent could have been involved in producing the WHR report and the implications of such an obviously predetermined result strongly suggests that this report was not motivated by a serious analysis of any kind.

Another photo of the crater containing the alleged canister that supposedly disbursed sarin in Khan Sheikdoun, Syria, on April 4, 2017

“This finding is disturbing. It indicates that the WHR was probably a report purely aimed at justifying actions that were not supported by any legitimate intelligence. This is not a unique situation. President George W. Bush has argued that he was misinformed about unambiguous evidence that Iraq was hiding a substantial amount of weapons of mass destruction. This false intelligence led to a US attack on Iraq that started a process that ultimately led to a political disintegration in the Middle East, which through a series of unpredicted events then led to the rise of the Islamic State.”

Postol continued: “On August 30, 2013, the White House [under President Obama] produced a similarly false report about the nerve agent attack on August 21, 2013 in Damascus. This report also contained numerous intelligence claims that could not be true. An interview with President Obama published in The Atlantic in April 2016 indicates that Obama was initially told that there was solid intelligence that the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Ghouta, Syria. Obama reported that he was later told that the intelligence was not solid by the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

“Equally serious questions are raised about the abuse of intelligence findings by the incident in 2013. Questions that have not been answered about that incident is how the White House produced a false intelligence report with false claims that could obviously be identified by experts outside the White House and without access to classified information. There also needs to be an explanation of why this 2013 false report was not corrected. …

“It is now obvious that a second incident similar to what happened in the Obama administration has now occurred in the Trump administration. In this case, the president, supported by his staff, made a decision to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. This action was accompanied by serious risks of creating a confrontation with Russia, and also undermining cooperative efforts to win the war against the Islamic State…

“I therefore conclude that there needs to be a comprehensive investigation of these events that have either misled people in the White House, or worse yet, been perpetrated by people seeking to force decisions that were not justified by the cited intelligence. This is a serious matter and should not be allowed to continue.”

While Postol’s appeal for urgent attention to this pattern of the White House making false intelligence claims – now implicating three successive administrations – makes sense, the likelihood of such an undertaking is virtually nil. The embarrassment and loss of “credibility” for not only the U.S. political leadership but the major U.S. news outlets would be so severe, especially in the wake of the WMD fiasco in Iraq, that no establishment figure or organization would undertake such a review.

Instead, Official Washington’s propaganda bubble will stay firmly in place allowing its inhabitants to go happily about their business believing that they are the caretakers of “truth.”

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chunga's picture

3000 views before a single comment. Wow, you spammers have really driven ZH'ers away in droves.

Manthong's picture

The deep state “advisors” knew damn well the “intelligence” was at the least thin and at the most bogus.

Trump, his still wet-behind-the ears son-in-law and his bleeding heart daughter are probably just not seasoned enough to see through the bad advice.

It is likely still going on.

Draining the swamp with a soda straw won’t work.


evoila's picture

they didn't get fooled. they were trying to trick the populace.



stilletto2's picture

The deep state knew the 'intelligence' was bogus - they wrote it! Then set up their puppets to stage the theatre show. Only thing they'd overlooked was not having enough firepower so the day before the 4 April chemical theatre they ordered USS Rosss to sail from Spain to East Med to be ready to fire missiles. All written and directed by Langley.

Why now? To capture Trump who took the bait, and then send message to N Korea. This syria show is but first act in play that ends in US faking an excuse to attack N Korea.

So I'll short the market - except for defence stocks which are buy, buy, buy - lots more tomahawks about to be wasted.

nightshiftsucks's picture

Just read the Franklin cover up and Trance-Formation of America,there's a lot satanist pedophiles running around who need to be dealt with.

Donald Trump's picture
Donald Trump (not verified) chunga Apr 16, 2017 2:31 PM

Looks like you wanna be next, after bob bitchin got the boot.

chunga's picture

"Tyler" feel free to delete my account. You've run this site into the ground.

flaminratzazz's picture

It sure as hell has fallen hard from the days of Marla and captcha..

But I have faith that one day the sun will shine and all will be well in the world..

toady's picture

The articles aren't bad, but the comments are just shit now. The fix is to block any comment that contains a link.

eclectic syncretist's picture

Assad and Syria aren't worth a shit or even passive consideration when it comes to the average self-sufficient American's daily life. The whole load of bullshit is merely about protecting the Petrodollar establishment so that a few unworthy banksters and their criminal brethen can be enriched from the sufferings of innocent human beings. 

I personally wouldn't bother stopping to take a piss on Assad's grave, but Bernanke or Yellen, or their owners, that's another matter altogether.

Ignatius's picture

These administrations don't believe they are "caretakers of truth," they are caretakers of power. 

Big difference.

flaminratzazz's picture

I am of a bit of a different mindset on that.. It seems to me with all the Mac Salvo and PCR and other constant doom articles that soon we will be pushed into buying water filters and mountain house while getting constantly peddled by gold vendors..

Being i have ad block, are there any?

any redoubt property adverts?

moorewasthebestbond's picture

MANY of the articles are beyond bad.


Who gives a shit about the latest out-of-control-cop shooting, the "most creative" cities in America, and all the godforsaken toddler-level doom porn that gets served up on a daily basis?


Countless "filler articles" force good articles off the front page before quality comments get a chance to be written and viewed. Sometimes less is more.

eclectic syncretist's picture

Zero Hedge is due to get replaced soon. The only thing most people come for is the comments; the articles are mostly second-hand and aren't even spell checked.

Arnold's picture

Geo Washington and his documentation may not be on that page.
I'm sure I'm not.

This your brain on drugs.


Paul Kersey's picture

This is still one of the few sites that is uncensored. Perhaps that means that spammers get a free pass. We've just got to take the inconvenient bad with the uncensored good. Wouldn't want to see dictatorial monitor ruling over the comments section.

Paul Kersey's picture



Bannon is anti-intervention, so Trump had to kick him out of the NSA planning room.  General Kushner is now in charge. Love to send General Kushner to the Syrian front lines, where he could dazzle us all with his acts of supreme bravery. 

flaminratzazz's picture

it is very obvious he is heavily outnumbered and behind enemy lines

TheLastTrump's picture

What the fuck do you know about anything? After that comment I have my doubts.

Paul Kersey's picture

"After that comment I have my doubts."

What else to you have?

Croesus's picture

I'd rather you stayed, and ZH spends a few bucks hiring a FT comment moderator, whose sole job is to root out spam, and spammers.

I used to run an IPB forum for military antiques collectors; we had 17k+ members. I know on the site administration side, it is not that hard to get rid of the problem. I don't understand why ZH refuses to address it.

The Daily Dicksucker's gotta go...

@ flaminratzass:

If the backend of this site is at all user-friendly, they could ban by IP...up to and including whole countries. Ban the proxies, ban specific links, certain words, etc.

Methinks Tyler(s) may not know too much about IT-related stuff.

flaminratzazz's picture

censorship is a slippery slope..at one time Zh went off the rails banning everyone that had any anti PC comment.. after all I am on my 3rd account to prove it..So, I am against censorship but not from spammers..that shit has to go..

and it seems the spammers are getting the boots.. so good job on that front Tylers..and I forgive you for booting me twice.. or maybe 3 times.. i forget..but at least i am not getting tossed for saying nigger anymore.

mc888's picture

I don't understand why ZH refuses to address it.

One word - Clickbait. Readers get all in a tizzy over conspiracy theories and religious propaganda. They stay longer to browse the comments when there's more agitprop spam.

moorewasthebestbond's picture

If Tyler ran this site into the ground... it was with the daily barrage of toddler-level doom porn articles.

flaminratzazz's picture

I second VW.. hang around, not many other places worth a shit out there anyway..

BeanusCountus's picture

Stick around Chunga. You are what you are, and we need to hear it. Too many others here are simply what they are paid to be.

CheapBastard's picture

I wish I made something I could sell to the military for 500% over the normal price and make a huge profit.

Then i'd be all for more wars also privately, while preaching peace and love publicly.

TheLastTrump's picture

Bob got the boot? Aren't this guys links malignant?

Normalcy Bias's picture

It's starting to resemble fark.com in here, all covered up with Spammers and Snowflakes...

flaminratzazz's picture

soldier on.. times have changed.. there is now open rebellion in the streets with libs and cons trading stick beatings..I tell ya,, i am indeed entertained..

The central planners's picture

Did the zionist deep state fooled the left and right useful idiots again?

Future Jim's picture

The US has tried for years to beat Al Qaeda, but now, after Americans have given up much freedom to central government and borrowed trillions of dollars from central banks, there is more terrorism than ever before. Nevertheless, don’t blame the FBI or the CIA, or Bush or Obama. There is no shame in being beaten by the best.



TheLastTrump's picture

Well, blame Reagan, because that's when we built Al Qaida in Afghanistan.


The key in that conflict with the Soviets was giving AQ shoulder fired anti aircraft missiles, Stingers, which were needed to enable freedom of movement against the Hind attack helicopters. That worked great.


If they're talking about giving what, MANPADS? to the Al Nusras or ISIS holy fuck that's stupid. But it worked before, remember? That's how they'll think.


sgt_doom's picture

I take Postol with a ton of salt and skepticism --- this dood Postol keeps referring to the "professional intelligence community" . . .

Just WTF is that dood talking about???????

TheLastTrump's picture

He confused the word "tame" with "professional".

daily westerner's picture
daily westerner (not verified) Apr 16, 2017 2:21 PM

CIA fooling the White House?

Wouldn't be a first.

Normalcy Bias's picture

It isn't about whether anyone was actually fooled, it's about providing an excuse for the response.

Bad_Sushi's picture

You get partial credit.

"You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."


They are all about fooling with people.   


Normalcy Bias's picture

The headline asks whether The White House was fooled again.

I refuse to believe that anyone in The White House, probably even including the cleaning staff, actually buys this Assad gas attack bullshit.

BorisTheBlade's picture

Precisely, if you want evidence, it's out there. And if you want a balanced position, you ought to examine every possibility to determine which one ultimately makes more more sense. Additionally, we live in an age where obtaining and studying evidence is streamlined and one could find a killer who committed a crime 20 years ago just by studying some residue of his hair on victim's shoulder [exageration obviously, but not that far fetched]. However, manufacturing evidence progressed as well and it is easier to do it given a certain [geo]political momentum.

TheLastTrump's picture

It's weird that it's all about a crater when I've heard about recordings of aircraft, missiles,  a drone, 2 seperate attacks, possibly a 3rd with the hospital strike. I'll reserve my opinion for furthur proof.


So far every article that talks about Russia/Syria denying & calling it a false flag.....those articles seem to be short on hard evidence.

Benito_Camela's picture

But you've *heard about* recordings of aircraft, missiles, a drone, 2 separate attacks, etc. 

Yeah I've heard about a lot more than that, but I don't generally go kicking up dust on some Syrian airfield based on what I've heard "about" within 10 minutes of hearing "about" it.  

Bad_Sushi's picture

I believe we have to go back to some of the first Big Lies told to the worldwide populace and their subsequent success, (at least as viewed by the purveyors of those Big Lies) and then we can understand why this metric is not changing.


They got away with it before, they are sure they will get away with it again. 

Business as usual boys and girls, buisness as usual. 

Wahooo's picture

First big lie is jews are god's chosen people. Second big lie is America needs a central bank. Third big lie is America should spread democracy. The three lies are tightly linked.