Monday, December 23, 2013

Head of UN Mission Investigating Syrian Chemical Weapons Debunks One of America’s Main Arguments

Washington's Blog
December 24, 2013

Press Reprises Its Iraq War Propaganda Role

We noted yesterday that the American case against Syria’s Assad as the culprit of chemical weapons attacks has fallen apart.
Former Newsweek and AP reporter Robert Parry has an update today:
Ake Sellstrom, the head of the United Nations mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria, agrees that the vector analysis – at the heart of the New York Times’ indictment of the Syrian government for the deadly Aug. 21 Sarin gas attack –doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
In a little-noticed comment at a UN press conference on Dec. 13, Sellstrom disputed claims that the launching point for the two missiles, which were recovered after the Aug. 21 attack, could be traced back following the angles of their final descent until they intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers away.
Instead, Sellstrom said he accepted as accurate other analyses that estimated the range of the rockets at about two kilometers. “Two kilometers could be a fair guess,” he said, noting that the UN team had consulted its own missile experts on the subject. “If you simulate the flight path, it seems not to meet as may be indicated in the report.”
In other words, the lead author of the UN report on the Aug. 21 incident has contradicted the much-touted “vectoring” claims of a New York Times front-page story and Human Rights Watch, which has been pushing for a U.S. military intervention in Syria. Their “vector analysis” of the two flight paths implicated an elite Syrian military unit, the 104th Brigade of the Republican Guard, based northwest of Damascus, near the Presidential Palace.
Since the two short-range rockets had a maximum range much less than 9.5 kilometers – and one of the rockets clipped a building during its descent making any assumptions about its flight path unreliable – the Times’ and the HRW’s “vector analysis” has essentially been debunked, although the Times and other major U.S. news outlets have been hiding that revelation from the American public.
…. Most of the mainstream U.S. media have simply reprised their propaganda roles played so disastrously a decade ago in the run-up to the Iraq War.
***
The UN inspectors have voiced uncertainty about who carried out the attack. At the press conference, Sellstrom admitted, “I don’t have information that would stand in court.” He also told Wall Street Journal writer Joe Lauria that both sides in the conflict had the “opportunity” and the “capability” to carry out chemical weapons attacks. [See WSJ, Dec. 16, 2013]
***
The Times’ front-page “vectoring” article of Sept. 17, thus, is reminiscent of its infamous “aluminum tube” story in September 2002, a highly misleading article that neatly dovetailed with President George W. Bush’s public relations strategy for manipulating the American people into supporting an unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Now, the Times is playing a similar propaganda role in connection with Syria.
To meet even minimal standards of journalistic ethics, the Times should publish a new article incorporating the emerging consensus – now including the head of the UN investigative team – that the “vectoring” story was nonsense. But the Times has simply continued to present one-sided articles blaming the Assad regime for the Aug. 21 attack.
As we’ve previously documented, Obama’s “case” for war against Syria was Iraq 2.0 … and even though Obama has pulled back from the brink of an imminent war, the lies are still being perpetuated by his administration and the mainstream media, which could conceivably set up a future attack.

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