Though this story provides some new information, what makes it news is who’s saying it. Pulitzer Prize winning leftist Seymour Hersh is now charging that Obama lied about the chemical weapons attack in Syria back in August. To give you an idea of Hersh’s ideology, he writes for the very liberal New Yorker and has advocated closing Gitmo.
While Hersh doesn’t go so far as to assert that Obama knew Assad wasn’t guilty, the issue seems to be the manipulation of intelligence and the altering of timelines in order to make the case that he was.
Via London Review of Books (h/t WZ):
…in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam…
…A senior intelligence consultant told me that some time after the attack he reviewed the reports for 20 August through 23 August. For two days – 20 and 21 August – there was no mention of Syria. On 22 August the lead item in the Morning Report dealt with Egypt; a subsequent item discussed an internal change in the command structure of one of the rebel groups in Syria. Nothing was noted about the use of nerve gas in Damascus that day. It was not until 23 August that the use of sarin became a dominant issue, although hundreds of photographs and videos of the massacre had gone viral within hours on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites. At this point, the administration knew no more than the public.
Hersh then implicates Obama’s “paid liar” in the utterance of a demonstrably false statement, based on the aforementioned lack of information:
The administration’s tone had hardened by 27 August, when Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, told reporters – without providing any specific information – that any suggestions that the Syrian government was not responsible ‘are as preposterous as suggestions that the attack itself didn’t occur’.
When chronic liars call something “preposterous”, what can one logically conclude?
That it’s not.
None other than Secretary of State John Kerry fails to escape Hersh’s piece too. In particular, Kerry’s August 30 speech is at issue:
He (Kerry) said that Syria’s ‘chemical weapons personnel were on the ground, in the area, making preparations’ by 18 August. ‘We know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons.’ The government assessment and Kerry’s comments made it seem as if the administration had been tracking the sarin attack as it happened. It is this version of events, untrue but unchallenged, that was widely reported at the time.
One of the more damning statements made by Hersh involves Obama himself:
So when Obama said on 10 September that his administration knew Assad’s chemical weapons personnel had prepared the attack in advance, he was basing the statement not on an intercept caught as it happened, but on communications analysed days after 21 August.
We reported – and updated multiple times subsequently – on the same day Carney asserted that any notion the Assad regime wasn’t involved was ‘preposterous’ that evidence pointed to rebels being responsible for the attack.
In light of the rising temperature in the lukewarm water Obama finds himself in over the Obamacare lies and the recently acknowledged lie involving his uncle Omar’s whereabouts, the source of this comprehensive report – Hersh – cannot help the president. These are quite damning charges from a prominent figure on the left which, in many ways, trumps the veracity of the content.
Hersh is also credited with breaking the Abu Ghraib prison scandal back in 2004.