Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Letter to CJ Chivers of the New York Times about the improbable narrative on Syrian gas attacks

Mr Chivers,

There are several things about the alleged Syrian gas attack at Ghouta story which don’t seem to pass the smell test.

I’m dubious about the claims that Syrian regular forces were responsible given the use of IRAM (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munition) as a delivery mechanism. Isn’t this more likely to be some militia such as Hezbollah or Al Nusra or one of the US contra fronts?

Given the internecine fighting between anti government forces and the extreme brutality used in these fights, I don’t think it is a given that an attack on rebel territory is ipso facto certain to be of government regular troops origin.

A number of qualified commentators have commented on how the medical and other personnel have been able to handle the bodies without protective gear and without any apparent ill effects. Very odd if we are looking at sarin don’t you think?[1]

Cui bono? There is every motive for the FSA forces who are losing the war to try to change the equation. Likewise there is no motive for the government, which is winning the war, to do so.

Finally, the explanation for why the inspectors were unable to reach a site a few miles from the city center from Damascus just doesn’t hold water. We are told they came under fire from snipers, but no-one was injured.

We both know that is at best utterly improbable. Snipers just don’t work that way.

Snipers disabled the lead vehicle and took out the front windshield and then… did nothing? Really?[2]

Given the “dodgy dossier” and Dr. Kelley’s subsequent “suicide” with almost no blood found at the scene and no fingerprints recoverable from the knife or other objects allegedly found at the scene[3], and the blatant lies pedaled by Colin Powell and credulously amplified by the media including the Times in the leadup to the Iraq war, and given the lack of any direct confirmation at all of the origin of this attack, I smell a rat.

If you do too, please have the courage to go public with your concerns and skepticism.

Also being elided in the Times coverage seemingly is that waging aggressive war is a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Principles. There is no possible justification for an unprovoked US attack on Syria under customary law absent an attack on the US or a UN Security Council resolution.

And under the US Constitution such actions require a declaration of war from Congress, the in my view, unconstitutional War Powers Act notwithstanding.

Is the New York Times going to repeat all its mistakes from the Judy Miller years? Have you learned nothing at all? You are all falling for the exact same tricks of disinformation again, if not actually knowingly and intentionally going along for the ride.

best regards,

–Henry

[1] AFP reports:

“At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the
people that are helping them are without any protective clothing and
without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the
Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.”

John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen
the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be
compelling evidence of chemical weapons use.

“Of the videos that I’ve seen for the last few hours, none of them
show pinpoint pupils… this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus
nerve agents,” he said.

Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World magazine, which specialises in
chemical weapons issues, said the evidence did not suggest that the
chemicals used were of the weapons-grade that the Syrian army possesses
in its stockpiles.

“We’re not seeing reports that doctors and nurses… are becoming
fatalities, so that would suggest that the toxicity of it isn’t what we
would consider military sarin. It may well be that it is a lower-grade,”
Winfield told AFP.
Syria opposition says 1,300 dead in chemical attacks by army

Haaretz reports:

Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at
least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical
substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious
conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination.
Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a
leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from
the footage so far: “None of the people treating the casualties or
photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective
gear,” he says, “and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.” This
would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons,
including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would
not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient
quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of
contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in
unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition,
he says that “there are none of the other signs you would expect to see
in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of
casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control.”
Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous
material exposure at England’s Cranfield University who has worked with
Britain’s Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that
“from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over
a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of
chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the
casualties coming in, and it would affect those treating them who are
not properly protected. We are not seeing that here.”
Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the
timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that
a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims
of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the
Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few
weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on
central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons
attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any
external signs of trauma?
Following alleged sarin attack || Defense Minister: Assad used chemical weapons multiple times in Syria But Western experts are skeptical that nerve gas was used Wednesday, and describe other viable scenarios.

[2]
Despite Sniper Fire, U.N. Team Reaches Syria Inspection Site
Source: NYT

LONDON — Snipers opened fire Monday on a convoy of United Nations inspectors heading toward the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, disabling the lead vehicle with multiple shots to the tires and windshield, the United Nations said, but the inspectors still managed to visit two hospitals, interview witnesses and doctors and collect patient samples for the first time since the attack last week that claimed hundreds of lives.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he had instructed his top disarmament official, Angela Kane, who was visiting Damascus, to register a “strong complaint to the Syrian government and authorities of opposition forces” to ensure the safety of the inspectors after the assault. There was no indication that any member of the inspection team had been hurt.

Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at a regular daily briefing at United Nations headquarters in New York that the assailants, who had not been identified, fired on the first vehicle in the convoy, which was “hit in its tires and its front window, ultimately it was not able to travel further.”

Mr. Haq said the inspectors, who numbered about a dozen, resumed their trip to a suspected attack site in a Damascus suburb after the vehicle was replaced, visiting two hospitals and interviewing witnesses, survivors and doctors. “They took a number of relevant samples, they feel very satisfied with the results of their work,” Mr. Haq said. A second visit was planned for Tuesday.
Despite Sniper Fire, U.N. Team Reaches Syria Inspection Site

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement after the assault that he had told his top disarmament official, Angela Kane, who was visiting Damascus, to register a “strong complaint to the Syrian government and authorities of opposition forces” to ensure the inspectors’ safety. There was no indication that any inspection team member had been hurt.

Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at a regular daily briefing at United Nations headquarters in New York that the assailants, who had not been identified, fired on the first vehicle in the convoy, which was “hit in its tires and its front window.”

“Ultimately,” he said, “it was not able to travel farther.”

Kerry Cites Clear Evidence of Chemical Weapon Use in Syria

[3] New suspicion over Kelly death – MP

Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy

28 August, 2013 Posted by | chemical warfare, customary law, gas, international law, lies, military, news, politics, propaganda, scanlyze, war | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

European Union: Report on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners

The European Parliament has voted to endorse and publish a report strongly condemning the use of European facilities for the alleged kidnapping, torture, and illegal imprisonment allegedly carried out and facilitiated in EU states by alleged US persons. The resolution was passed on or about Feb 14, 2007 by a majority of 382 to 256 with 74 abstentions.

This news was ‘covered’ by the BBC, Financial Times, Radio Free Europe, Islamic Republic News Agency, Irish Times and others. However most (or all, seemingly) news accounts did not include the name of the report or a link to it. And it seems not to be easily searchable from the various EU institution sites or general search sites. Some legislative history and parliamentary questions were accessible by searching at europa.eu on on ‘rendition’.

Following are the header and conclusions from the full report.


EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

2004 – 2009

Session document

FINAL

A6-9999/2007

26.1.2007

 

REPORT

on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners

 

(2006/2200(INI))Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European

countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners

Rapporteur: Giovanni Claudio Fava

 

[…]

 

Final conclusions

225. Stresses, in view of the powers it was provided with and of the time which it had at its

disposal, and the secret nature of the investigated actions, that the Temporary

Committee was not put in a position fully to investigate all the cases of abuses and

violations falling within its remit and that its conclusions are therefore not exhaustive;

226. Recalls the principles and values on which the European Union is based, as provided in

Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union, and calls on the EU institutions to meet their

responsibilities in relation to Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union and all other

relevant provisions of the Treaties, and to take all appropriate measures in the light of

the conclusions of the work of the Temporary Committee, the facts revealed in the

course of the Temporary Committee’s investigation and any other facts that may emerge

in the future; expects the Council to start hearings and commission an independent

investigation without delay, as foreseen in Article 7, and, where necessary, to impose

sanctions on Member States in case of a serious and persistent breaches of Article 6,

including where a violation of human rights has been declared by an international body

but no measure has been taken to redress the violation;

227. Believes that the principle of loyal cooperation enshrined in the Treaties -which requires

Member States and the EU institutions to take measures to ensure the fulfilment of their

obligations under the Treaties, such as the respect of human rights, or resulting from

action taken by the EU institutions, such as ascertaining the truth about alleged CIA

flights and prisons, and to facilitate the achievement of EU tasks and objectives – has

not been respected;

228. Recalls that in light of European Court of Human Rights case law, a signatory State

bears responsibility for the material breach of the provisions of the ECHR, and therefore

also of Article 6 of the Treaty on the European Union, not only if its direct

responsibility can be established beyond reasonable doubt, but also by failing to comply

with its positive obligation to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into

reasonable allegations of such violations;

229. Notes the reports by reputable media operators that extraordinary rendition, illegal

detention, and systematic torture involving many people is continuing, and considering

the declaration by the current US Government that the use of extraordinary rendition

and secret places of detention will be continued; therefore calls for an EU-US counterterrorism

summit to seek an end to such inhumane and illegal practices, and to insist

that cooperation with regard to counter-terrorism is consistent with international human

rights and anti-torture treaty obligations;

230. Instructs its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, where necessary in

cooperation with the Committee on Foreign Affairs, notably its Sub-Committee on

Human Rights, to follow up politically the proceedings of the Temporary Committee

and to monitor the developments, and in particular, in the event that no appropriate

action has been taken by the Council and/or the Commission, to determine whether

there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the principles and values on which the

European Union is based, and to recommend to it any resolution, taking as a basis

Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union, which may prove necessary in this

context;

231. Calls on its Secretary-General to publish, at least in compliance with Regulation

1049/2001, all the documents received, produced and examined, as well as the records

of the proceedings of the Temporary Committee on the Internet as well as in any other

appropriate manner and calls on the Secretary-General to ensure that the developments

in fields falling within the remit of the Temporary Committee after its disbandment are

monitored;

232. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the

governments and parliaments of the Member States, of the candidate Member States

and the associated countries, and to the Council of Europe, NATO, the United Nations

and the Government and two Houses of Congress of the United States, and to request

them to keep Parliament informed of any development that may take place in the fields

falling in the remit of the Temporary Committee.

see also: Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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14 February, 2007 Posted by | Afghanistan, America, BBC, Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, covert operations, customary law, detention, Europa, Europe, European Union, Financial Times, Giovanni Claudio Fava, human rights, intelligence, Iran, Iraq, Irish Times, Islamic Republic News Agency, kidnapping, law, law of nations, media, memory hole, Middle East, military, murder, national security, news, newspapers, peace, politics, prisoners, radio, Radio Free Europe, rendition, repression, Taliban, torture, USA, war, war crimes | 1 Comment

Scanlyze response to ‘Army Suspends two NYT journalists’ on ‘Conservative Thoughts’

Conservative Thoughts has a bit on two journalists associated with the New York Times who have been “suspended” by the US Army for their reporting from Iraq:

Army Suspends two NYT journalists

My response to CT:

So the New York Times shouldn’t post any picture or video of someone dying? Only happy news, then?

Or is the issue that they showed an American soldier dying?

This war, which has cost the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, is supposed to be covered without ever showing anyone dying?

This family should be a LOT more angry with George W. Bush and the US Congress who wrongfully sent their son to be killed in an illegal aggressive war on the basis of lies, lies, propaganda, and more lies. Waging an aggressive war was one of the four main categories of charges at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II for which the Nazi leaders were imprisoned, or in most cases, executed.

Images of dying soldier renew war coverage debate Houston Chronicle, January 31, 2007
Marjorie Cohen Aggressive War: Supreme International Crime Truthout

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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1 February, 2007 Posted by | Army, Bush, censorship, conservatism, customary law, freedom of the press, international law, Iraq, journalism, law, law of nations, media, military, national security, New York Times, repression, scanlyze, war, war crimes, WWII | 1 Comment