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General Category => General Comments => Topic started by: linuxfreakus on April 06, 2017, 02:33:48 PM

Title: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 06, 2017, 02:33:48 PM
I hate that I have no freakin clue whether there was an actual chemical attack in Syria or not. The media has been so bad, and I can't find any reliable information one way or the other. Russia and China each have plausible information too besides the US version. The amount of crappy information on Syria we've already been fed doesn't help alleviate my apprehension about believing anything that is reported. Sad that this is what the world has come to.

This is a plea for help...would love to find some reliable reports.  I don't even know where to begin.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 06, 2017, 04:57:50 PM
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39500947 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39500947)
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 06, 2017, 05:01:52 PM
Good luck finding any real report about this. Your best bet (sadly) would be to watch reports about it in Arabic on local channels in surrounding countries. Sometimes a European source will cover things you won't find here as well. I'm personally not equipped for that kind of search, and so I'm resigned to just assuming I should ignore the story for now. I do pay attention to what MSM says about these kinds of things, though, because certain kinds of reporting perks up my ears and alerts me to what NOT to believe. Personally I find the claim that Assad did this implausible, but of course anything's possible. There have been enough instances in the past where MSM has claimed Assad (or previously, Gaddafi) did something and after some research it appeared to me that it was another party trying to frame them.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 06, 2017, 06:47:12 PM
What convinces me is that it was a rebel stronghold. There was no positive for the rebels to unleash chemical weapons, and a lot of positives for Assad.

Assad's father poured flammable liquid into tunnels and set it alight, convinced that anyone down there was a rebel. It is well within this regime's playbook.

I detest the rebels; the majority of them are Sunni Shariah law *censored*, but this isn't on them. This is honestly a case of both sides being overwhelmingly atrocious.

And I admit chemical weapons are atrocious. But the man is fighting against ISIS Sunni militants. We lost a couple of towers in one city in one state and tortured people for years.

The man's a dick, but I feel it's worth examining what the other side is as well. I honestly don't feel that Syria would be better off under ISIS or an equivalent rather then a Saddam type who kept the psychotics under control with an iron fist.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 06, 2017, 07:01:50 PM
I am embarrassed by the ease with which state-run media outfits like in Russia and China are given credibility while the work of hard-working journalists from multiple media outfits in a country with free press is casually dismissed. I don't know who to blame for the deterioration of our collective respect for journalists, but if I were a conspiratorial person (and I am not) I would say that it almost seems organized so as to undermine any thought that a person might feel they know anything about what's happening out there. All the better to keep a population distrustful of its own journalists so as to make mischief possible.
In a way, it's like we're all living in China now. Instead of democracy and freedom radiating outward from the West as GWB might have naively imagined it, the paranoia and helplessness of autocracies has permeated everywhere.

I'll have none of it. There is no serious reason to have significant doubt about what all the major networks are reporting here - especially with a president that they all openly detest essentially in agreement about the events and the cause. There's basically zero chance the Trump WH and media would be 'colluding' on a thing like this, and zero chance of such a huge story being reported incorrectly without consequences to the reporting bodies.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 06, 2017, 07:09:32 PM
Yeah. It was definitely Assad. The only people claiming otherwise are those who are part of the Russian/Syrian government or those who give credence to Russian sponsored propaganda.  (RT.) It diminishes my confidence in humanity enough when Russians buy into RT, but Americans or Europeans? Jesus. Just wipe us out and let the descendents of the rats try to make a better place in 30 million years.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 06, 2017, 10:06:33 PM
Right there with you, Josh: it's as if critical thinking has completely taken a back seat.  Of course it makes sense that it was the anti-Assad forces who were stockpiling the nerve agents for their own use - which, in the past, seems to have been limited to also inadvertently killing themselves and their neighbours during otherwise harmless attacks by Syrian government forces.  ::)

And the whole question from the initial post is either completely naive or disingenuous; nobody is disputing the facts of the attack, just of the munitions.  Everybody from Syria, to the Russians, to the survivors, they all accept that Syrian planes dropped bombs on the buildings in question.  The only question, if you can call it that, and the one introduced by the Russians, is whether the bombs contained the nerve agent, or whether the nerve agent was stored in the buildings that were bombed.

And waiting for an investigative reporter or some kind of independent super-international-sleuth to comb through the wreckage and figure out the "truth" from the remaining evidence - that is incredibly naive.  There simply cannot be any kind of believable reporting, or reporting that could rise to the level of acceptable to the OP author, if the existing reporting is not already sufficient.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 06, 2017, 10:25:29 PM
I am embarrassed by the ease with which state-run media outfits like in Russia and China are given credibility while the work of hard-working journalists from multiple media outfits in a country with free press is casually dismissed.
I'll have none of it. There is no serious reason to have significant doubt about what all the major networks are reporting here - especially with a president that they all openly detest essentially in agreement about the events and the cause. There's basically zero chance the Trump WH and media would be 'colluding' on a thing like this, and zero chance of such a huge story being reported incorrectly without consequences to the reporting bodies.

Its not that I'm giving Russia/China "credibility" its that those version seem also plausible and I *know* we've been lied to about Syria for while now from the US media, consequently, I have trouble swallowing any of it. There really aren't many companies running the US media and we know from various wikileaks and other evidence that the "deep state" (don't really like that name but it is what it is) has been pulling a lot of the strings in MSM for a long time.

I agree that Trump himself probably doesn't want Syria to blow up, but there are other forces at work too.  Ultimately I see the conflict in Syria as essentially a proxy war where the US side wants to build one pipeline, and the Russian side wants to build a different one and there would be lots of oil and huge money involved.  The people "team" Hillary were supporting stood to gain a LOT from an Aramco IPO... potentially the largest IPO in the history of the world.  That IPO seems a bit more murky now that Hillary lost but the big money players are still pushing for it, just like they're still pushing the anti-Russia new mccarthyism stuff.

Since there basically are no reporters actually in Syria (US ones anyway) all we have to go on are these bizarre reports that come from who knows where ... and as far as smaller of international reports, especially arab language reports that may actually be from people who are there, I just don't know who might be real there either.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 06, 2017, 10:42:56 PM
I honestly don't understand where this neo liberal idea that looking down on Russia is McCarthyism comes from.

The Russian government are arseholes. They kill journalists,  they annex parts of other countries, they have a leader who will rule until he's senile or dead.

I don't give a shat of it *is* conservatives or Republicans, or whoever else, that has to point that out. They're *censored* and we should absolutely be working against their goals.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 06, 2017, 11:18:26 PM
What convinces me is that it was a rebel stronghold. There was no positive for the rebels to unleash chemical weapons, and a lot of positives for Assad.

Are we talking Rebels, or are we talking ISIS? Also, if we're talking Rebels, can we rule out ISIS having picked some WMD's up and pulling a false-flag on Assad?

With Russian, Iranian, and I think some Chinese backing, Assad doesn't need WMD's to subdue an area. He can just bomb or otherwise bombard it into oblivion using conventional arms. All using WMD's would do is bring down international condemnation upon himself.

The joys of fog of war.

The other thing is, if ISIS is involved, as victims or attackers, if not both, nothing can meaningfully be ruled out. This a culture that is known for suicide bombers and suicide attackers. So their view of the "righteous muslims" who were slain by that attack/event is likely to be more than a bit skewed. They died for a glorious cause, and will be richly rewarded in the afterlife.

Compounding things further for that matter, there is no guarantee that kind of screwed up thinking isn't also pervasive within the Rebel camps as well.

So it goes back to: It doesn't make sense for Assad to use the stuff, while the other groups involved in the fighting could very well have rationalized their way into using it, even on their own people.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: cherrypoptart on April 07, 2017, 06:12:09 AM
I'm in the group that says it made no sense for Assad to use chemical weapons when he could bomb them even more effectively with regular Russian bombs. Trump just conducted a missile strike on an Assad air base so when we look at who had something to gain and who had something to lose, Assad clearly had everything to lose and nothing to gain by using chemical weapons and it is exactly the other way around for the rebels/ISIS. If Assad wasn't responsible, what does that mean for the future when we reward the use of weapons of mass destruction by attacking the enemy of the ones who used them?

Unless we have reliable agents deep in the Assad regime who know that he did this, I'm not seeing how we can be sure. And we saw how reliable those types of agents can be with the Iraqi air force general who convinced us that Saddam had chemical weapons stockpiles as well as the the Iraqi girl who went before our Congress and testified that Iraqi soldiers were bayoneting infants in incubators in Kuwait hospitals. Plus, even if Assad did this, does that mean we need to take him out of power? This is exactly what Saddam did to the Kurds and yet pretty much everyone says that taking him out of power was one of the biggest mistakes in modern history. And he didn't have the Russian military supporting him with Russian boots on the ground so there was no chance of starting a nuclear WWIII.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 09:17:36 AM
I honestly don't understand where this neo liberal idea that looking down on Russia is McCarthyism comes from.

Because it is, and it has nothing to do with neo liberalism.  This is not "looking down on Russia"  it is accusing anyone who isn't following the agenda that the elites want followed of colluding with Russia, which is ridiculous because if you look at the ones doing the accusing they have just as many or more "questionable" ties to Russia themselves.  This is not to say that anyone who talks to a Russian official or does business with some company that directly or indirectly profits from Russia is "bad", just pointing out that it is clearly a political witch hunt not unlike what happened with Joe McCarthy.

The Russian government are arseholes. They kill journalists,  they annex parts of other countries, they have a leader who will rule until he's senile or dead.

Minus the leader for life part (sort of since congress/senate can stay for a very long time) the USA does the same thing.  Haven't killed journalists in quite the same numbers... they prefer to just buy them off here or exercise control via their corporate bosses, either way the effect is similar.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Gaoics79 on April 07, 2017, 12:14:28 PM
Cherry I am in your camp - I just see no compelling motive for Assad to do this, bastard or not. Quite the extreme opposite actually. I also find the timing of this attack - just after the US announced a softening of its anti Assad position - baffling, and nearly inexplicable. The question I have is why the hell now? Why not 6 months ago? Why not a year ago? Until someone answers that question for me, I can't help but feel like someone is playing us all for fools.

As for why Trump has bought into this? I guess there are two likely explanations: either he has the inside track on this by virtue of being president, or he is being played for a fool too. I have no idea which is true, but the idea of someone *gasp* manipulating a man like Trump? Forgive me if I don't faint.

And Josh, in response to your point about the media, yes it is free unlike Chinese and Russian sources. But your point about all Western outlets agreeing is only pertinent if we assume that every outlet relies on its own independent sources, which I find unlikely in a case like this. It's like pointing to five different brands of chicken and saying that they couldn't *all* be tainted until you find out that they all source from the same processing plant.

And I am curious to know what the source or sources for mainstream reports are? It wouldn't so happen to be the US government, by any chance, would it? Independent and free indeed.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 07, 2017, 12:34:35 PM
And I am curious to know what the source or sources for mainstream reports are? It wouldn't so happen to be the US government, by any chance, would it? Independent and free indeed.

This is, indeed, where most sensitive reports come from about foreign affairs. The way they do it is to get an anonymous "source" and then use one lower source as a clearinghouse to pass it off to the media outlets. If people were to learn in a given instance that "the source" was in the employ of a pro-war think tank then I bet they'd think twice about jumping on board with it immediately. But because it gets channeled down through the MSM it's legitimized, very much like the information equivalent of money laundering. Sometimes these reports probably come from the CIA, sometimes from other agencies, but almost invariably the original source isn't disclosed.

The fact that most major "news" agencies get their information in this way is a result of laziness, budgetary limitations, and also the fact of having a free gravy train of updates being fed to them 'for free'. Why spend lots of money for on-site reporting, equipment, and risk your reporters' lives when you can just get your 24 hour cycle filled by funnel-down from the Pentagon? This is not corruption speaking, but capitalism. The market has led us to this. Functionally it ends up being similar to RT's relationship to the Kremlin, even though the latter is a result of direct fascism and in America's case it's a result of the fundamental inefficiency of the market in certain sectors to achieve results acceptable for 'the common good.'
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 07, 2017, 01:01:35 PM

The fact that most major "news" agencies get their information in this way is a result of laziness, budgetary limitations, and also the fact of having a free gravy train of updates being fed to them 'for free'. Why spend lots of money for on-site reporting, equipment, and risk your reporters' lives when you can just get your 24 hour cycle filled by funnel-down from the Pentagon? This is not corruption speaking, but capitalism. The market has led us to this.

I don't disagree that the market has brought us here, but this state of affairs would be blown up by any evidence (and I do mean any) of the WH/pentagon getting it wrong on anything important. Think about it - the headlines would go on for days that the government misinformed the media who then dutifully reported it to the public - there might even be criminal charges. The media (the serious part of it, anyways) would not be in the risky business of reporting nonsense that could be disproven and would thoroughly discredit both them and the government. It's just too risky - unless, of course, the information had a proven track record of being accurate. And capitalism has given us multiple media outlets that compete for dollars and ad revenue - a great incentive for one of them to try to scoop the others with evidence that the lot of them were wrong.

So yes, they do it because it's lazy and cheap, but they couldn't do it if it wasn't good information because of the risks involved to their bottom line.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 01:07:31 PM
I don't disagree that the market has brought us here, but this state of affairs would be blown up by any evidence (and I do mean any) of the WH/pentagon getting it wrong on anything important.

Define important?  Because there is evidence that a lot of things have been misrepresented about Syria.  I also strongly object to the idea that "market conditions" have brought us to where we are.  The USA is so far from being a free market that its laughable.  The game is rigged and huge corporations hold many many advantages.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 07, 2017, 01:15:03 PM
I don't disagree that the market has brought us here, but this state of affairs would be blown up by any evidence (and I do mean any) of the WH/pentagon getting it wrong on anything important.

Define important?  Because there is evidence that a lot of things have been misrepresented about Syria.

I believe you think that - but I doubt there's anything that rises to the level of "proof of government deception of the public" or it would be everywhere.

I'm curious what stands out in your mind as misrepresentation. I'm quite sure I can explain it to you, whatever it is, as either correct or at least logical based on available information at the time.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: LetterRip on April 07, 2017, 01:17:47 PM
The issue is that the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Turkish government, the 'rebels', and many of the American government sources are all unreliable.

I think Trump desperately wants to go to war - it is generally the easiest way to get ones domestic agenda achieved and to get friendly media coverage and even more limited military action can distract the media from unfavorable coverage of domestic issues.

The Turkish government wants the US to attack Syria.

Both the Syrians and Russians don't want the US involved.

The 'rebels' are certainly capable of doing a false flag operation.

So... then we have to examine the logic of events

1) Both the Russians and rebels confirm that the timing of the chemical attack was after air strike
2) The Russians are claiming that it was a chemical depot of the rebels that released the gas
3) Turkish sources are claiming it was Sarin
4) Syria seems likely to have done a Sarin attack in the past with little repercussions
5) Syria is winning and has the Russians as allies it seems stupid to do such an attack and risk US entering

If it was Sarin - it seems unlikely the rebels have access.  I think Assad is quite possibly dumb enough to take unnecessary risks and it is quite possible his military commanders are willing even if he isn't.

Thus I'd put the balance of probabilities slightly in favor of it being true.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 01:18:03 PM
I believe you think that - but I doubt there's anything that rises to the level of "proof of government deception of the public" or it would be everywhere.

Exactly, and therein lies the problem... there is not sufficient proof that they are NOT being deceptive either.  People don't know who to believe.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: LetterRip on April 07, 2017, 01:21:44 PM
JoshCrow,

Quote
Think about it - the headlines would go on for days that the government misinformed the media who then dutifully reported it to the public

You mean like Iraq - where we were told that the aluminum bodies could only be used for centrifuges, where a report showed that they were impossible to use for centrifuges and were almost certainly rocket bodies?  Or the report of the 'mobile bio/chemical weapons lab' that was a complete fabrication?

Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 01:26:13 PM
If it was Sarin - it seems unlikely the rebels have access.  I think Assad is quite possibly dumb enough to take unnecessary risks and it is quite possible his military commanders are willing even if he isn't.

Thus I'd put the balance of probabilities slightly in favor of it being true.

I still don't get it.  Why bother? Nerve agents are unreliable and lack of wide area lethality, and dissipate quickly (not to mention short shelf life).  Conventional munitions are easier to get or make, and more effective, and infinitely less likely to provoke the sort of thing that just happened.  What strategic breakthrough could he possibly be hoping to make? Conventional weapons can be as destructive as nuclear weapons.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 07, 2017, 01:33:11 PM
JoshCrow,

Quote
Think about it - the headlines would go on for days that the government misinformed the media who then dutifully reported it to the public

You mean like Iraq - where we were told that the aluminum bodies could only be used for centrifuges, where a report showed that they were impossible to use for centrifuges and were almost certainly rocket bodies?  Or the report of the 'mobile bio/chemical weapons lab' that was a complete fabrication?

Having lived through that, I remember the media showing things like Colin Powell's UN presentation and presenting whatever evidence the government brought forward. I don't remember the media saying definitively "this is true" but merely presenting the government's argument as such. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the media' job?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 07, 2017, 01:35:12 PM
I still don't get it.  Why bother? Nerve agents are unreliable and lack of wide area lethality, and dissipate quickly (not to mention short shelf life).  Conventional munitions are easier to get or make, and more effective, and infinitely less likely to provoke the sort of thing that just happened.  What strategic breakthrough could he possibly be hoping to make? Conventional weapons can be as destructive as nuclear weapons.

Well, what if you really really hate your enemy and want them to fear you? Why do Mexican drug cartels bother to decapitate victims when they could just shoot them dead?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 01:35:43 PM
Having lived through that, I remember the media showing things like Colin Powell's UN presentation and presenting whatever evidence the government brought forward. I don't remember the media saying definitively "this is true" but merely presenting the government's argument as such. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the media' job?

Is there a difference between blasting government claims virtually unopposed all over the media 24/7 and actually claiming they are true?  And bringing in pundits and "experts" to constantly validate those same claims?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 01:41:38 PM
Well, what if you really really hate your enemy and want them to fear you? Why do Mexican drug cartels bother to decapitate victims when they could just shoot them dead?

Clearly for the shock value, but Mexican cartels are not in the same precarious position that Asad is in... in fact they enjoy the support of the CIA. But even with that, the international attention would still come if the drug gangs began using nerve gas.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 07, 2017, 02:00:46 PM
Is there a difference between blasting government claims virtually unopposed all over the media 24/7 and actually claiming they are true?  And bringing in pundits and "experts" to constantly validate those same claims?

There is a fundamental difference, yes. The story was the government's claim (which was sensational and certainly deserved wide coverage). This is key, and if you look over major media reporting at the time, you will see they did their job and attributed the beliefs to their authors, and (critically) presented photographs and other bits of evidence that were interpreted incorrectly. But the point is - the evidence was there to inspect, and the claims were there "as claims" rather than "as truths".
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 07, 2017, 02:02:51 PM
Clearly for the shock value, but Mexican cartels are not in the same precarious position that Asad is in... in fact they enjoy the support of the CIA. But even with that, the international attention would still come if the drug gangs began using nerve gas.

Assad's position ceased being precarious - in fact nothing less than the US outright publically stating "we are no longer seeking regime change" literally just preceded this attack. So there goes that, really.

I am reminded of another similar case... why did Saddam do this, you suppose? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_chemical_attack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_chemical_attack)
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 02:06:45 PM
There is a fundamental difference, yes. The story was the government's claim (which was sensational and certainly deserved wide coverage). This is key, and if you look over major media reporting at the time, you will see they did their job and attributed the beliefs to their authors, and (critically) presented photographs and other bits of evidence that were interpreted incorrectly. But the point is - the evidence was there to inspect, and the claims were there "as claims" rather than "as truths".

I'm fundamentally at a loss for how you can think that the media was objective in the run-up to Iraq.  They never pointed out using anything more than footnotes or fine print the sources of the claims... and those sources were nearly always anonymous too except for public speeches, etc.  Any objections were laughed off, or literally CUT off in interviews.  The coverage was a complete joke.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 02:11:25 PM
Assad's position ceased being precarious - in fact nothing less than the US outright publically stating "we are no longer seeking regime change" literally just preceded this attack. So there goes that, really.

I am reminded of another similar case... why did Saddam do this, you suppose? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_chemical_attack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halabja_chemical_attack)

Wow.  So with the media constantly printing stories about him, and red scare still going full steam ahead despite the fact that Hillary lost you think that Asad had reason to feel safe and secure?  He is no more or less secure than he was... but as long as Russia is going to keep backing him and he holds up his end of the bargain to let Russia make the pipeline favorable to them... then you might be right because I don't know if we're really crazy enough to go to war with Russia.

Regarding Saddam... I seem to remember a little scandal known as Iran-Contra which the CIA had their little hands in.  Once that all blew up and he was on his own, guess how many chemical/biological weapons we found there? (So yeah, since he is currently backed by Russia, while we are backing ISIS, then maybe you've got a small point, but he also should be able to see that Saddam never gained ANY advantage from that stuff, nor was it very effective tactically)
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Gaoics79 on April 07, 2017, 02:25:59 PM
Quote
Why do Mexican drug cartels bother to decapitate victims when they could just shoot them dead?

The cartels have been chopping off heads for years. It is part of their everyday behaviour.

By contrast, we have apparently gone 4 years without any sign of Assad employing chemical weapons. Then right at the moment when the US government is changing its policy to be more favourable to his regime, for the first time ever, Assad inexplicably launches a chemical attack to slaughter a handful of civilians, for no discernible tactical or military benefit, triggering military reprisals against him and sabotaging his own self interest. And he does this because... Evil?

You find none of this suspicious?

Regarding the media Josh, what makes you think they even have the resources to investigate a story like this in any serious way, even if they were so inclined? It's a warzone. You think if this was a false flag someone is going to leave some memoranda lying around that CNN can pull with a FOI request? How much of modern journalism is even concerned with primary sources anymore? I feel like we're getting the same basic "product" repackaged and rebranded by 1,000 different "retailers" all pretending to offer something unique - like some industrial kitchen dolling out the same slop to ten different restaurants with different names and colorful logos, but serving the same food!

I don't know what to believe. I sure as hell don't trust Assad or the Russians but I don't trust CNN either.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 07, 2017, 02:26:30 PM

I'm fundamentally at a loss for how you can think that the media was objective in the run-up to Iraq.  They never pointed out using anything more than footnotes or fine print the sources of the claims... and those sources were nearly always anonymous too except for public speeches, etc.  Any objections were laughed off, or literally CUT off in interviews.  The coverage was a complete joke.

Fair enough, I'll concede the point. There was too much cheerleading and not enough skepticism.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 07, 2017, 03:15:02 PM
JoshCrow,

Quote
Think about it - the headlines would go on for days that the government misinformed the media who then dutifully reported it to the public

You mean like Iraq - where we were told that the aluminum bodies could only be used for centrifuges, where a report showed that they were impossible to use for centrifuges and were almost certainly rocket bodies?  Or the report of the 'mobile bio/chemical weapons lab' that was a complete fabrication?

How about Bin Laden's 'underground fortress stronghold', pictures of which were shown by the press all around, and which of course were pure fiction literally drawn on someone's desk for fun. But of course there are no "arrests" for such "reporting", because all they're doing is repeating what they're told! And that, JoshCrow, is why the media is utterly unreliable. They changed their business model from investigating on-site to give you first-hand coverage to repeating messages handed down to them. "Reporting" used to mean that they would investigate and then report on the results. Now it means they will relay messages they have been given by others. It's little more than a clearinghouse for many types of news events for which they don't do reporting any more. In the old days you could call them liars for false reporting since they were on site and if they lied you knew if was them who concocted the false story. Now that their mandate is merely to repeat what they're told as long as they've "truthfully repeated it" (i.e. relayed it as is) then they've "done their job", which of course means the actual truthfulness of the reports are not in their mandate, but only accurate reposting like people do on Reddit with stupid gifs (pronounced jiffs). And what's more, people will defend them in the wake of stories being utterly false by saying they're merely reporting what they heard, not their fault! What a crock.

Likewise it's been demonstrated that there are also no arrests for false 'reporting' even when we know the original source, such as with the Iraq WMD fiasco. How can you ever "prove" that no source told that admin there were WMD's? So even when the source is known nothing can be done, and certainly not to the media who, instead of being watchdogs against corruption, have chosen the easy path of playing ball and being a cheap retailer with flashing neon signs.

I don't trust CNN or their ilk one whit. I don't trust RT either, but RT has a funny knack for making truthful reports - so long as they diminish the reputation of their opponents. They cherry pick what they print to favor Russia, and their tone is obviously pro-Russia, but I often find that they avoid printing actual falsehoods. This makes RT a valuable resource for information-gathering, as long as one doesn't ever think that they should be 'trusted'.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Wayward Son on April 07, 2017, 06:50:18 PM
One thing about the false WMD reports during the Bush II Administration is that there were many reports I heard at the time disputing the claim.  I distinctly remember hearing one on NPR on my drive home from work.  While the Administration was adamant about the quality of their intelligence, other sources were skeptical.

So far, I haven't heard skeptical reports from the serious news sources about the gas attack in Syria.  The only major dispute seems to come from Russia and the Syrian government, who contend that it was rebel gas that was released during the attack.  But that is not a credible story, since Sarin gas will burn, and is usually stored unmixed in separate containers for safety.

And so far, no one is talking about a possible suicide use by ISIS or their ilk, probably because it would have had to be timed precisely to work.  (Did ISIS sit with the container for weeks, waiting for an aerial attack?)

While it is best to keep an open mind about sources, and to be skeptical of reports, from my experience the responsible news sources do not usually swallow a government's line without question, and the questions usually surface.  Even though reports can be false, I wouldn't discount all reports when a vast majority of them do not disagree.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Gaoics79 on April 07, 2017, 06:55:46 PM
Wayward I just want to understand - what does "vast majority of reports" mean in this context?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 07, 2017, 07:26:19 PM
One thing about the false WMD reports during the Bush II Administration is that there were many reports I heard at the time disputing the claim.  I distinctly remember hearing one on NPR on my drive home from work.  While the Administration was adamant about the quality of their intelligence, other sources were skeptical.

You're forgetting how long ago that was. It was before media agencies had completely folded on independent reporting. Those days are over.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 07, 2017, 07:27:23 PM
I wouldn't discount all reports when a vast majority of them do not disagree.

I too wonder what "vast majority" is... Like all six of them?  There are six companies controlling 90% of the media in this country.... not sure if it was quite as bad back when Iraq/WMD stuff came out, but I do not recall hearing a whole lot of dissenting opinions about it in the media.  Once it came to the point where it was clear that we were probably going to invade and people started protesting, they kinda covered that a bit, but it was mostly framed as "fringe" or "anti-war", there was no substantive discussion that I ever heard where they meaningfully addressed how obviously questionable the reports were and how other countries hadn't reached the same conclusions.  Talk that I heard on NPR mostly centered around keeping "score" of which people were planning to vote which way, and various repeated claims with undue certainty attached.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: LetterRip on April 07, 2017, 11:26:05 PM
The NYT dissented, they came out with the report on Powell misleading the UN regarding the aluminum tubes and questioning the veracity of the mobile lab, and suggesting that the intelligence the government were getting and using from specific sources was highly questionable - the NYT was largely ignored though.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 08, 2017, 03:00:24 AM
Really?  I don't remember that at all.  Was that an opinion piece or was that part of their main coverage?  Was it before the war began? I remember Judith Miller (Pulitzer prize winner) ranting and raving about huge stockpiles and splashy headlines pretty much calling for Saddam's head on a platter.  NYT was one of the worst offenders I thought.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: LetterRip on April 08, 2017, 05:31:52 AM
It looks like I was misremembering and it was the Washington Post and other sources (the NYT might or might not have, but that wasn't the source that I quoted at the time).

http://www.ornery.org/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/6/1735.html

Yes it was before the war began, it was immediately after Colin Powell made his case to the UN.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 08, 2017, 07:49:59 AM
If it was Sarin - it seems unlikely the rebels have access.  I think Assad is quite possibly dumb enough to take unnecessary risks and it is quite possible his military commanders are willing even if he isn't.

Thus I'd put the balance of probabilities slightly in favor of it being true.

I still don't get it.  Why bother? Nerve agents are unreliable and lack of wide area lethality, and dissipate quickly (not to mention short shelf life).  Conventional munitions are easier to get or make, and more effective, and infinitely less likely to provoke the sort of thing that just happened.  What strategic breakthrough could he possibly be hoping to make? Conventional weapons can be as destructive as nuclear weapons.

Why drive a truck through a crowd if it won't defeat the military?  Terrorism isn't about winning. It's about inflicting fear. Chemical weapons do that.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 08, 2017, 08:06:33 AM
Russia/Syria is Orderly Evil. (For those who are familiar with DnD.) They believe in rule of law and even taking care of their own, but they'll do *censored*ed up things to enforce it.

ISIS and their friends are neutral evil at best, chaotic evil probably. They do *censored*ed up things and scramble for religious reasons to justify it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. 10/10 I'll defend a secular dictatorship against religious control. The only thing that can convince a good man to do evil is religion.

The chemical attacks are the (for me) red line. If they'd used chemical weapons instead of airplanes,  9/11 would have been several city blocks dead instead of a couple towers.

Assad used chemical weapons this time. I was skeptical the last, but the only people backing Russia here are people scrambling for straws. Ya'll can make excuses. I won't.

The crappy world we live in says we have to accept what is. Except I'm not going to sit here and say that chemical weapons are okay. Not even if the other side is 40 percent Shia law arsholes.

We're better because we have lines that we don't cross. And *censored* Trump for making me agree with him.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 08, 2017, 09:35:14 AM
It looks like I was misremembering and it was the Washington Post and other sources (the NYT might or might not have, but that wasn't the source that I quoted at the time).

http://www.ornery.org/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi/topic/6/1735.html

Yes it was before the war began, it was immediately after Colin Powell made his case to the UN.

Ah, yes the Washington Post... that sounds more likely.  I have even recently seen a few sensible pieces in there from time to time... still coupled with some of the most bizarre "fake news" there is... but they at least throw in a little logic once in a while.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 08, 2017, 09:40:49 AM
The only thing that can convince a good man to do evil is religion.

Can't take the rest of your post seriously after reading this gem. On the one hand it amazes me that someone can make an anti-religion argument couched in religious language, and on the other it is stupefying think that anyone could even possibly omit greed, power and fear as motives for taking harmful actions. Please tell me you aren't going to assert that a "good man" would never be subject to these motives  ::)
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 08, 2017, 10:47:32 AM
The only thing that can convince a good man to do evil is religion.

Can't take the rest of your post seriously after reading this gem. On the one hand it amazes me that someone can make an anti-religion argument couched in religious language, and on the other it is stupefying think that anyone could even possibly omit greed, power and fear as motives for taking harmful actions. Please tell me you aren't going to assert that a "good man" would never be subject to these motives  ::)

I'd go so far as to contend that because Religion makes a great gateway for people to obtain Power and Money, often through use of Fear, that the problem isn't religion itself. The problem is people who are greedy and seek power to make it happen.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 08, 2017, 10:50:55 AM
There is no denying that religion is a powerful force for controlling people... but its not the only thing.  It might be a branch of mob psychology along with mass media, and so many other influences.  Plenty of more individual motivations too.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 08, 2017, 11:03:37 AM
Why drive a truck through a crowd if it won't defeat the military?  Terrorism isn't about winning. It's about inflicting fear. Chemical weapons do that.

That analogy doesn't work for me.  Driving a truck through a crowd generally does not lead to missile strikes and international reprisals, just like the beheadings example.  *IF* this was in fact a false flag or even completely faked, then the reason Sarin gas was included was because it makes it much easier to make the claim that it had to be a state actor since ostensibly there would be no way some "random band of rebels" would get their hands on poison gas weapons (even though we heard testimony from CIA director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper that said they [ISIS] can and have used it -- not that these guys haven't been caught lying too).

So yeah... I still don't feel any more confident about knowing anything about this than I did in my first post.  This entire Syria thing is a disastrous mess. I would love nothing more than for us to just stop poking the freakin hornets nest and just stop.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 08, 2017, 11:13:35 AM
I'd go so far as to contend that because Religion makes a great gateway for people to obtain Power and Money, often through use of Fear, that the problem isn't religion itself. The problem is people who are greedy and seek power to make it happen.

Because many people are prone to believe in religion or at least in mystical systems, it goes without saying that this is going to be a standard avenue to exploit those people. But the mechanism by which they do this has nothing to do with any inherent facts about religion; it mostly has to do with the fact that people who want to exploit others will use any possible way to do so, and if religion is such a way they'll use that. Calling out religion because of greedy power-mongers is like calling out eating because of TV advertisements peddling candy to kids. Of course there is harm in there, but not because of the impulse to eat! In fact we should properly argue that the impulse to eat is a sign of health, and that this very draw towards something nourishing is ideal grounds for manipulation of the desires towards something ill. But rather than looking at systems and how they're exploited I guess it's easier to just call religion evil.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDrake on April 08, 2017, 09:39:49 PM
In addition to the valid discussions in this thread, I'll throw out an idea speculatively. What if this was a loss of command and control by Assad, or a simple mistake of loading the wrong weapons? I could see a general going rogue and using the weapons more than Assad directing that now is the time for them.

I have a hard time believing that if anti-Assad groups had access to such weapons that they would have chosen a false-flag suicide attack rather than using them on Assads forces.

As for Assad being concerned about international condemnation, well I don't think he operates that way, and I doubt that the countries still standing behind him care very much if he uses chemical weapons.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 09, 2017, 12:51:03 AM
Loss of command is possible but maybe even more difficult to prove.  It is not clear to me that any "false flag" would have been a suicide mission... wouldn't we be in on it too and just directed the response elsewhere?  Or are you thinking that Russia and others would have seen where the real strike left from using their own surveillance and pointed out that the response didn't even hit the right target (they already have claimed that the response did very little damage and didn't even touch the runways, but no idea if that has been corroborated, I've been too busy to search)?

Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 09, 2017, 12:55:42 AM
I'm pretty much split on it. I remember the reports from the Obama Administration saying ISIS likely had control of some of the chemical weapons stockpiles Syria had. Thankfully the stuff hasn't turned up elsewhere as of yet.

I can also see a case of Assad using the weapons and hoping to make it look like it actually was the rebels/ISIS who did so. I still think the calculus on his side would make it come out deciding not to. Which means the "other players" in the game make more sense.

As I said previously, this is very much a "fog of war" moment, unless somebody has high quality intelligence intercepts of Syrian Troop commands ordering the chemical attack or someone making an uncoerced confession, it's hard to demonstrate one way or another. With scene contamination and everything else(it is a War zone), forensic evidence is likely to unreliable.

Flip a coin, consult a magic 8 ball for all I care. I just know that for me personally, I'm probably going to withhold judgment on who did what when for a very long time, and honestly expect to never make a final determination on this one.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDrake on April 09, 2017, 11:34:46 AM
I'd also say in a larger sense that the Syrian government is responsible, since they likely manufactured the weapons. And used them previously. And created the conditions for rebellion.

My comment on a suicide false flag was addressing the likelihood that the rebels gassed themselves to make Assad look bad.

Frankly, any use of chemical weapons by a state makes little sense to me, and the ability of non-state actors to acquire them makes little sense to me. Can't really get my head around it.


Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 09, 2017, 12:14:23 PM
I'd also say in a larger sense that the Syrian government is responsible, since they likely manufactured the weapons.

Maybe, maybe not. Iraq did not manufacture their illegal gases. Of course we know where those came from. These things are sold all over the place.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 09, 2017, 12:52:04 PM
My comment on a suicide false flag was addressing the likelihood that the rebels gassed themselves to make Assad look bad.

You assume the people who were gassed knew they were handling WMD's. When I'm saying it was a potential "suicide"/sacrifice of their own forces, it may not have been any of the people who actually died who were party to that decision.

As a strategic move, it would be a brilliant ploy to execute against Assad. You just have to be callous enough to not care about the casualties on your own side in order to make it happen. Which goes back to their traditions and practices from which suicide bombers/attackers are derived. For which ISIS in particular doesn't maintain much in terms of separation or distance when it comes to encouraging such things. I think Assad is a bigger fan of Patton's maxim, of "Make the other guy die for his 'country'"
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: JoshCrow on April 09, 2017, 01:59:44 PM

As a strategic move, it would be a brilliant ploy to execute against Assad.

Except for the fact that it basically changed nothing. If this was a false flag, is it really a useful success to get a few missiles lobbed at a base that remains operational?

While strategically I can appreciate that anything one does is a gamble, the idea of having to cover up a brutal chemical attack against one's own people (with all the risk of being found out) on the off-chance that Trump would respond and respond meaningfully enough to make it worth it... well, it doesn't sound like good strategy to me. I suppose desperation is very motivating, but.. really? I've heard people question why Assad would use these weapons, but the other scenario is more far-fetched to me.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: rightleft22 on April 09, 2017, 02:14:09 PM
I don't understand the military strategic value of the attack.
The use of a chemical weapon doesn't make sense to me.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 09, 2017, 04:36:13 PM

As a strategic move, it would be a brilliant ploy to execute against Assad.

Except for the fact that it basically changed nothing. If this was a false flag, is it really a useful success to get a few missiles lobbed at a base that remains operational?

They'd be operating on the assumption that it'll bring international pressure down on Russia at the very least and get them out of Syria's pocket, failing that, escalation of the conflict into a wider area and generating chaos for Russian and Western relations.

Of course, in that respect, it may not have been Assad, it could have been the FSB. ;)

Although reality is, while the Islamic Extremist groups love to focus on the West, Islamic groups in Russia and China have it much worse. So in that respect, any chance of getting NATO to "have a go" at Russia for protecting Assad is one the Islamists will welcome.

Quote
While strategically I can appreciate that anything one does is a gamble, the idea of having to cover up a brutal chemical attack against one's own people (with all the risk of being found out) on the off-chance that Trump would respond and respond meaningfully enough to make it worth it... well, it doesn't sound like good strategy to me. I suppose desperation is very motivating, but.. really? I've heard people question why Assad would use these weapons, but the other scenario is more far-fetched to me.

Cover what up on the ISIS front? IF they do have some of that stuff, that it hasn't been seeing use elsewhere would suggest it's being tightly controlled, and the number of people who know what it is probably is quite small. They're also pretty good at staying under everybody's radar, unlike state run agencies.(Which often leave (paper/communication) trails behind) As compared to ISIS where they give the relevant pieces to someone they consider expendable, don't tell them what it really is, and see what happens. Unlike Syria's side where weapon release is going to be tightly controlled, in order to prevent the insurgents getting (more of) it.

Edit: Which isn't even getting into the propaganda side for ISIS. If they're caught? Deny and claim it's a false flag operation by Syria. If the western nations don't intervene, use at as talking point for further recruitment as it "proves" the ill-intent of the Western/Christian nations, as they're refusing to get involved in any meaningful way.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: rightleft22 on April 09, 2017, 06:20:13 PM
if Assad forces did use chemical weapons as the west is accusing them of, what could be the strategic thinking behind such a attack.
It doesn't make military sense for Assad to have approved such a attack so if he was behind it, it had to be political. But why? Muddy already muddy waters. Test Trump?  To many variables that could turn on you... 

If Assad deliberately used these weapon, what does he get by doing so?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Gaoics79 on April 10, 2017, 07:31:23 AM
 http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/news/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com/news/world/russian-tweets-raise-spectre-of-war-over-syria-and-warn-g7-against-issuing-ultimatum&pubdate=2017-04-10  (http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/news/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com/news/world/russian-tweets-raise-spectre-of-war-over-syria-and-warn-g7-against-issuing-ultimatum&pubdate=2017-04-10)

Quote
It was only on March 30 that Haley, along with Tillerson, said Washington was no longer adamant that Assad must quit. Instead, they said, the U.S. would shift its focus to defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). But last week’s gas attack on Syrian civilians by Assad’s forces in Damascus appears to have changed the thinking.

Yesterday, when asked if the U.S. now sees regime change as a priority, Haley outlined three objectives before moving to a political, peaceful settlement of the six-year civil war in Syria: defeating ISIL, getting rid of Assad and removing Iranian influence. “Getting Assad out is not the only priority,” she said.

Asked if that meant the U.S. was advocating regime change, she said: “This is something the entire international community has decided.”

Tillerson echoed those comments on Sunday, saying “there is no role for him (Assad) to govern.”
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 10, 2017, 10:35:49 AM
Quote
*IF* this was in fact a false flag or even completely faked, then the reason Sarin gas was included was because it makes it much easier to make the claim that it had to be a state actor since ostensibly there would be no way some "random band of rebels" would get their hands on poison gas weapons
Your false flag hypothetical requires that ISIS/AQ/'the rebels' managed to wait until the Syrian government forces bombed the area before releasing the gas, or alternatively, requires that ISIS/AQ/'the rebels' managed to acquire an airplane capable of carrying bombs and of dropping them on the city of Idlib. Is there another option, because both of those seem exceedingly unlikely?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 10, 2017, 10:42:57 AM
Quote
if Assad forces did use chemical weapons as the west is accusing them of, what could be the strategic thinking behind such a attack.
It doesn't make military sense for Assad to have approved such a attack so if he was behind it, it had to be political. But why? Muddy already muddy waters. Test Trump?  To many variables that could turn on you... 

If Assad deliberately used these weapon, what does he get by doing so?
The simple answer is that you are focusing on Washington, rather than on the Syrian resistance in particular, and the Syrian population in general.  Assad remaining in power requires the population in general to be sufficiently cowed, and poisoning a neighbourhood using chemical weapons pretty much screams "continue messing with me and you are in for a world of hurt". it is psychological warfare aimed to cement his long term hold on the country.

Since Washington had just given Assad the green light by outright stating that Assad was the Syrian population's problem, not that of the USA, it's clear Assad may have misunderestimated the inconstancy of the current administration in Washington (or maybe not - who knows in what direction the long-term winds in Washington will blow. )
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 10, 2017, 02:01:02 PM
Quote
*IF* this was in fact a false flag or even completely faked, then the reason Sarin gas was included was because it makes it much easier to make the claim that it had to be a state actor since ostensibly there would be no way some "random band of rebels" would get their hands on poison gas weapons
Your false flag hypothetical requires that ISIS/AQ/'the rebels' managed to wait until the Syrian government forces bombed the area before releasing the gas, or alternatively, requires that ISIS/AQ/'the rebels' managed to acquire an airplane capable of carrying bombs and of dropping them on the city of Idlib. Is there another option, because both of those seem exceedingly unlikely?

Maybe... it depends on how many factions knew about the supposed false flag and how confident you are in the ability to control the media narrative.  We assume there was an air strike at the same time... but is there a way to independently verify it... or as russians have suggested, if it was just a depot sorting such chemicals and the resulting cloud from blowing it up was what caused the "gas attack" and they simply used the incident to spin it as something different....  There is just so much that is virtually unknowable at this point.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 10, 2017, 03:49:59 PM
Wow... sorting == storing.  I need more coffee.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 10, 2017, 06:35:03 PM
Of course, that's no longer a false flag operation... And you have to wonder how, if Russia supposedly knew that was a chemical depot, why they would have allowed Syrian forces to bomb it... or did their intelligence only go so far as to identify that the building was a rebel weapons depot, but not a chemical weapons depot?

At some point, Occam's razor is going to have to kick in...
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 11, 2017, 12:55:09 AM
Of course, that's no longer a false flag operation... And you have to wonder how, if Russia supposedly knew that was a chemical depot, why they would have allowed Syrian forces to bomb it... or did their intelligence only go so far as to identify that the building was a rebel weapons depot, but not a chemical weapons depot?

At some point, Occam's razor is going to have to kick in...

Yeah, I guess there has to be an actual attack to count as a false flag, otherwise its just false pretense...  I do kinda feel like there was probably an attack of some kind.  If Russia's story were true, I think the idea is that they knew the rebels were using it to store weapons but they didn't know they were chemicals (and it wasn't actually sarin, it was other stuff).  It is plausible, but no idea which if any of these stories are true and the white hats are kinda fishy too.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 11, 2017, 06:35:56 AM
"kinda feel"?  Russia itself has stated already that it was a Syrian strike.  There's no ambiguity there.  How can you be questioning the veracity of reporting when you aren't even aware of that most basic, accepted facts as claimed by the Russians themselves?

What's even worse, is that the Russian's themselves have admitted, as some kind of defence, that not only was it a Syrian attack on an identified rebel munitions storage and manufacture site, but that they knew it was used to "housed workshops to produce projectiles stuffed with toxic agents", and if there was any doubt about their purported intelligence, they also clarified that "from this major arsenal, chemical-laden weapons were delivered by militants to Iraq."  Their stated aim was to put the chemical weapons depot out of service. http://tass.com/world/939417 (http://tass.com/world/939417)

So supposedly, according to Russian state media[ (Tass) the Russian Defence Ministry stated that they knew there were chemical weapons being manufactured in the building in question prior to the attack, and they even knew where those weapons were being delivered.  I have no idea why they think this is materially better - knowingly blowing up a toxic agent depot in the middle of a population centre as opposed to dropping chemicals weapons on the same people.

If that is the best spin the Russians can put on this attack (and remember, the Russian state is basically the largest exporter of propaganda in the world right now - well, maybe China has an equivalent army of trolls, but they are less well documented) then it boggles the mind how you can still stretch to attribute "an attack of some kind" to the rebels (ISIS, AQ, whatever) in this case.  It really seems like the Russian propaganda machine has successfully destroyed your ability to vet information for yourself.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 11, 2017, 09:58:03 AM
If that is the best spin the Russians can put on this attack (and remember, the Russian state is basically the largest exporter of propaganda in the world right now - well, maybe China has an equivalent army of trolls, but they are less well documented) then it boggles the mind how you can still stretch to attribute "an attack of some kind" to the rebels (ISIS, AQ, whatever) in this case.  It really seems like the Russian propaganda machine has successfully destroyed your ability to vet information for yourself.

The difference between the Russian and Chinese trolls is that the Chinese ones are predominately for domestic consumption, the rest of the world can go f--- itself. Russia likes to remember being a superpower, so it's stuff is for internal and external consumption alike, so they'll helpfully translate it for you. While most of the Chinese propaganda often remains in Chinese only, unless a third party decides to translate. Which for most US media markets means it doesn't exist, because it isn't available in English, they're not going to bother to translate it themselves.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 11, 2017, 10:06:39 AM
So supposedly, according to Russian state media[ (Tass) the Russian Defence Ministry stated that they knew there were chemical weapons being manufactured in the building in question prior to the attack, and they even knew where those weapons were being delivered.  I have no idea why they think this is materially better - knowingly blowing up a toxic agent depot in the middle of a population centre as opposed to dropping chemicals weapons on the same people.

I'm surprised this is puzzling to you. The standard ISIS strategy right from day one was to enmesh themselves in civilian centers to create morale problems for the West in extricating them. And it was working perfectly, since no one was willing to engage ISIS on account of the civilian casualties that would ensue. What you seem to be arguing is that going after these terrorists and accepting the collateral damage is the same as directly targeting the civilians, which is of course ludicrous. The hard pill to swallow is that refusing to accept civilian losses in cases like ISIS means the terrorists have won. They have no compunction about using human shields.

I'm not saying this is definitely what happened, but assuming Russia's narrative is accurate is makes perfect sense. It's not 'bad spin' if it's true, and unlike the U.S. (for better or worse) Syria and Russia don't have quite the same considerations about public sentiment regarding their military actions. They do have to consider general morale, but they don't have to worry about public opinion polls on every single action they take.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 11, 2017, 10:16:47 AM
Of course, that's no longer a false flag operation... And you have to wonder how, if Russia supposedly knew that was a chemical depot, why they would have allowed Syrian forces to bomb it... or did their intelligence only go so far as to identify that the building was a rebel weapons depot, but not a chemical weapons depot?

Depending on the chemical weapons in question, even the US would consider an "Air Strike" option in order to eliminate them. Of course, the toolbox the US has is a fair bit larger and more varied than what the Syrians have, as IIRC we have some munitions that were purpose built for such uses. Although I know there are a couple cases where you're basically talking a tactical nuke scenario if you're wanting to be certain of the agents destruction, and I don't think those ever left the drawing board. But a fuel-air bomb could take care of a number of other chemical weapons.

It is possible they thought that the weapons payload they were striking the facility with should have been more than sufficient to neutralize/"burn off" the vast majority of the chemical weapon stocks they thought were present before they could pose a hazard to the surrounding area. It just happened that something they didn't expect happened to be there as well, and the payload wasn't adequate for handling that.

As to ISIS/ISIL, I could see them "staging" some of this material in certain locations they think may be subject to airstrikes, but not otherwise in imminent danger of a ground assault. If they think a ground assault is coming, they'll move it(to avoid it being captured), but otherwise it's a propaganda bomb waiting to go off. In that vein they may have "leaked" that intel to the Russians/Syrians for just that purpose. Let them think there is a comparatively easy to make/easy to destroy chemical agent being made there, and see what they do in light of Trump's latest policy announcement.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 11, 2017, 11:15:16 AM
So now if Russia says something then it must be true?  I'm just saying there isn't a good way to independently verify and US, Russia, China, and others have all been guilty of completely making things up sometimes.  I'm well aware of what Russia said, but it doesn't change the fact that virtually no reliable independent reporting exists inside Syria that I can find.

"kinda feel"?  Russia itself has stated already that it was a Syrian strike.  There's no ambiguity there.  How can you be questioning the veracity of reporting when you aren't even aware of that most basic, accepted facts as claimed by the Russians themselves?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 11, 2017, 11:51:05 AM
LF, the point is that everybody including the Russians, the Syrians, the USA, people on the ground - everybody is reporting that Syrian planes bombed the area.  You seem to be under the impression that there is some ambiguity on this point.  If all parties agree on a point, even parties who vehemently disagree with each other on other points, then that is fairly strong evidence that the point in question is true.

If you feel that this point still requires more evidence before you can accept it, then I would suggest that there is no level of evidence that you would accept, so there is not much point in you looking for it.  You seem to be asking the question "I can't believe anybody, so who can I believe?"

The answer is right there in your question.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 11, 2017, 12:12:27 PM
Quote
I'm surprised this is puzzling to you. The standard ISIS strategy right from day one was to enmesh themselves in civilian centers to create morale problems for the West in extricating them.
You seem to be confused, Fenring.

I was not at all questioning the moral bankruptcy involved in hiding chemical munitions among civilian populations.  Why you should think that is even in question is surprising. However, whether there were chemical munitions on the ground at the time of the attack is very much in dispute.  What we know is a) Syrian aircraft bombed an area where there were many civilians, b) following the Syrian bombing, many people suffered symptoms of chemical munitions (nerve toxins). Over 100 people were reported to have died from the effects of both the reported general destruction as well as the reported nerve agents.

That leaves us with the following possibilities:
1. The Syrian munitions dropped on Idlib contained the nerve agents.
2. Nerve agents were on the ground where the more traditional Syrian bombs dropped caused the agents to be dispersed.
3. Nerve agents were dispersed by some 3rd party coincident with the dropping of the Syrian bombs on Idlib.
4. Nerve agents spontaneously generated from the effect of the traditional bombing.
5. no bombing actually took place, and nobody died.

I consider option 1 to be the only realistic possibility; I'll even give a nod to #2, the Russian rationalization.  But in both cases, we have the Syria knowingly taking actions that would cause nerve agents to be dispersed within a civilian population centre.  Notwithstanding that TheDeamon thinks the USA is also evil enough to knowingly cause the distribution of nerve agents within a population centre, that does not somehow obviate Syria's responsibility here (in the most generous possible interpretation to Assad, of course).  Either action is evil and a war crime regardless of ISIS' possible involvement in storing the weapons (which at best is a complete hypothetical, the only evidence for which is Russia's 'word' on it.)

Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 11, 2017, 12:27:32 PM
That leaves us with the following possibilities:
1. The Syrian munitions dropped on Idlib contained the nerve agents.
2. Nerve agents were on the ground where the more traditional Syrian bombs dropped caused the agents to be dispersed.

I consider option 1 to be the only realistic possibility; I'll even give a nod to #2, the Russian rationalization.  But in both cases, we have the Syria knowingly taking actions that would cause nerve agents to be dispersed within a civilian population centre.

Not sure why you think I'm confused, since I was directly addressing your point above that you've repeated here (the part I bolded). You have now twice stated an equivalence between dropping a nerve agent and knowingly attacking a site containing a nerve agent. I was not addressing the probability of either of these happening, but rather the equivalence you've drawn, which above I called "ludicrous" (and still do).
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 11, 2017, 12:50:27 PM
The effect of both is to consciously disperse nerve agent within a civilian population - the fact that ISIS (in this hypothetical) did an evil action by placing the nerve agents in that particular spot does not magically remove the responsibility of of the Syrian forces knowingly taking an action that would kill civilians by dispersing the agent.

You may call this ludicrous, but that simply illustrates the extent to which you are willing to accept evil actions if those actions can be rationalized in even the flimsiest ways.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 11, 2017, 01:07:30 PM
You may call this ludicrous, but that simply illustrates the extent to which you are willing to accept evil actions if those actions can be rationalized in even the flimsiest ways.

I am, as far as I can tell, the most vocally anti-war person on this board, so your comment here strikes me as being remarkably off-base. Even I recognize that if terrorists hide behind civilians the only way to get them is to accept collateral damage. If you think this is categorically the same as making a chemical weapons attack then I guess we'll agree to disagree on this point. But terrorists quickly get wise to the fact that taking hostages will be a viable strategy for them, which has been the tactic of ISIS from the get-go.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 11, 2017, 02:05:33 PM
Using the terrorist bogeyman has become the rationalization-du-jour worldwide for nations wanting a pretense of cover for their bad acts.

Let's just look at Syria - how many deaths can be attributed to ISIS/AQ's use of chemical weapons over the past 5 years? Compare that to the number of civilians killed by Syrian forces over the same period.  And what exactly was the rush?  Assad's regime is consolidating its control over most of the country - it is winning the civil war.  There was no rationalization sufficient for bombing a chemical weapons depot, with the inherent likelihood of widespread civilian casualties, at this time. 

You know how this story would have played out differently?  The Syrian forces could have warned civilians to vacate the area even an hour prior to the attack, leaving insufficient time to remove any significant portion of stored munition or any supposed "manufacturing capabilities".  But not even the smallest warning was given to civilians, which suggests that the civilians were in fact the target.  Or rather, civilians in other neighbourhoods and cities were the actual targets of the implicit warning.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 11, 2017, 02:25:55 PM
And what exactly was the rush?  Assad's regime is consolidating its control over most of the country - it is winning the civil war.

It's not a civil war, it's a proxy war. World of difference there.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 11, 2017, 03:08:06 PM
That's because you live in the USA and seem to view everything through that lens.

To Assad, Syrians in general, and I daresay the majority of the world, it is a civil war.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 11, 2017, 03:15:22 PM
That's because you live in the USA and seem to view everything through that lens.

To Assad, Syrians in general, and I daresay the majority of the world, it is a civil war.

Um, it's not really a question of what my political opinions are. It's just a question of what the definitions of words are. Calling something a "civil war" implies that the populace is rising up or that part of that nation's military is opposing the government. The implication of either of those is that the legitimacy of the government is being significantly contested by citizens of that country. Calling something a "proxy war" means that a country is being invaded from an exterior force and is defending itself from conquest. The implication of this is that some other country is an aggressor. These are not remotely the same, and are also (within certain bounds of greyness) not subject to what someone's opinion on the subject is. If a foreign power is sending mercenary forces to invade another country that is factually not a civil war. If the mercs are merely assisting the local insurrection then it becomes grey, but that's not what happened in Syria.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 11, 2017, 03:50:01 PM
That's because you live in the USA and seem to view everything through that lens.

To Assad, Syrians in general, and I daresay the majority of the world, it is a civil war.

Uh, that would certainly explain all of those fighters coming in from across the Islamic world to rally under the Banner of ISIS in its wars in both Syria and Iraq. That doesn't quite fit the criteria of any civil war I'm aware of. I'm under the impression most of the ISIS fighters are either foreigners, or people who've been impressed into service and refuse to fight at their own peril. Which isn't even getting into the agenda of ISIS, as its ambitions don't stop at the Syrian border.

Most civil wars are fielding forces that are largely derived from local populations. Neither of the major players at this point fully qualify in that respect. Syria has the Russians, Iranians, and a few others helping. While ISIS has the ongoing inflow of foreign volunteers flocking to their banner.

The actual "Syrian rebels" within Syria are pretty much a non-factor in all of this, yeah, they're around, and they're holding their own reasonably well, but they're not holding onto much of value.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 11, 2017, 04:02:06 PM
Notwithstanding that TheDeamon thinks the USA is also evil enough to knowingly cause the distribution of nerve agents within a population centre, that does not somehow obviate Syria's responsibility here (in the most generous possible interpretation to Assad, of course).  Either action is evil and a war crime regardless of ISIS' possible involvement in storing the weapons (which at best is a complete hypothetical, the only evidence for which is Russia's 'word' on it.)

First off, where did I say the US would drop any kind of bomb in a population center where other WMD's are in play?

I said the US Military has a warfighting doctrine that does include being able to drop bombs onto sites they believe to hold Chemical and Biological weapons under the condition that they think the bombs will be able to destroy the "lethal agents" that makes those weapons a threat. I didn't say anything about it being 1) A preferred option. or 2) That doing so anywhere near a population center would be anything close to considered "Acceptable risk."

I was talking about Syria and Russia and the "acceptable risk" calculations they'd make. Using the United States as a template, where it is an established matter of record that even we could, under the right conditions, decide to bomb a chemical or biological weapons depot rather than send in troops. It then becomes not much of a stretch to conclude that the Russians could likewise consider bombing of a Chem/Bio weapons to be an "acceptable tactic" under the right conditions.

Also, knowing that the Russians and Syrians alike are a lot less squeemish about "collateral damage" than their Western European and American counterparts. It becomes entirely possible to see where they'd go ahead and green light the bombing in a populated area.

As to where the "moral calculus" on such an act goes, that's an entirely different ball game. I'd agree they're then at least "indirectly responsible" for what essentially became an indirect use of WMD's, which is a war crime. However, the "flip side" there is the consideration of what the alternatives could have been, in regards to "What if they had given ISIS the chance to clear/relocate the facility instead?"  Given that piece to chew on, I think it's safe to say if ISIS was left to their own devices, and they actually did have the stuff, if left to use them at a time/place of their choosing, a lot more than 100 people would be dead.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DonaldD on April 11, 2017, 04:32:32 PM
Quote
If the mercs are merely assisting the local insurrection then it becomes grey, but that's not what happened in Syria.
Actually, that is exactly what happened.

The insurrection that started the whole war was initiated during the Arab Spring.  It now incorporates  Sunni Arab rebel groups including the Free Syrian Army, Salafi jihadist groups,  the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces as well as ISIS.  So yes, the main aggressors are Syrian (it's even in their names...) with outside "help" of ISIS and some Salafi jihadist groups.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 11, 2017, 04:34:14 PM
LF, the point is that everybody including the Russians, the Syrians, the USA, people on the ground - everybody is reporting that Syrian planes bombed the area.  You seem to be under the impression that there is some ambiguity on this point. 

No... I agree that there was some kind of attack.  Exactly what transpired is much more murky though.  Perhaps I'm misunderstanding something too, I thought you were implying that the Russian account was somehow more reliable. I was mistaken.  My only point was that there is a *relatively* higher chance of the entire thing being faked than with something which reporters and others could easily verify since no US media is in Syria.  I can't think of any reason why the major entities involved would all conspire to lie about it though to the extent of creating something that never even ocurred, so in *absolute* terms the chance is extremely remote.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Wayward Son on April 11, 2017, 06:15:07 PM
Quote
Most civil wars are fielding forces that are largely derived from local populations. Neither of the major players at this point fully qualify in that respect. Syria has the Russians, Iranians, and a few others helping. While ISIS has the ongoing inflow of foreign volunteers flocking to their banner.

OK, that takes care of 2 sides.  What about all the other sides? ;)
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: LetterRip on April 12, 2017, 01:12:59 PM
For the doubters, here is the evidence that it was a Sarin attack by Syria, quite a strong case.

https://www.quora.com/Is-Syria-and-Assad-using-chemical-weapons-against-its-own-citizens-Why/answer/Dan-Rosenthal-6
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Gaoics79 on April 12, 2017, 01:32:51 PM
The article is interesting but useless for any layperson lacking expertise in evaluating shrapnel patterns or knowledge of chemical weapons sufficient to debunk or corroborate what it is saying. I am not saying the article is bunk - I am saying if it were bunk I would have zero means of knowing it.

It reminds me of articles establishing that September 11th was a controlled demolition - very persuasive to a layperson lacking the knowledge to evaluate what is being said.

I don't know what to think. What it comes down to for me is trust - do I trust the people pushing this story? After everything that has happened since the Iraq war I simply don't.

If I accept that Assad used these weapons, at best I'm in a tepid 55% territory. And the idea of replacing Assad with the "alternative" makes me think we're better off supporting him and siding with the Russians. He is better than the alternative regardless of whether or not he used chemical weapons.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Pete at Home on April 12, 2017, 02:34:09 PM
Of course, that's no longer a false flag operation... And you have to wonder how, if Russia supposedly knew that was a chemical depot, why they would have allowed Syrian forces to bomb it... or did their intelligence only go so far as to identify that the building was a rebel weapons depot, but not a chemical weapons depot?

At some point, Occam's razor is going to have to kick in...

I don't think Occam's Razor applies to the middle east. The term "Byzantine" was invented for a reason.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Wayward Son on April 12, 2017, 05:02:27 PM
Agreed, Pete.  As I recall, Alexander required an entire sword, not just a razor. :)
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 12, 2017, 07:18:10 PM
At some point, Occam's razor is going to have to kick in...

I don't think Occam's Razor applies to the middle east. The term "Byzantine" was invented for a reason.

Agreed. Although to be honest, I'd likewise give better than even odds, probably around a 60 to 70% chance, that it was Assad who was entirely responsible for the attack being chemical in nature. But it still pretty much remains in what I described earlier as "flip a coin, or consult  a magic 8 ball" for reliability of any conclusions drawn.

So fell free to make a call on what you think may or may not have happened there, just be prepared for whatever conclusion you drew to later be proven wrong.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 12, 2017, 11:13:38 PM
For the doubters, here is the evidence that it was a Sarin attack by Syria, quite a strong case.

https://www.quora.com/Is-Syria-and-Assad-using-chemical-weapons-against-its-own-citizens-Why/answer/Dan-Rosenthal-6

Off the top of my head, this looks like armchair analysis... how do they know whether the site was tampered with at all? Did they actually inspect the site? What is the source of these photos?  If they didn't look at them in person its hard to think they could really have done a careful and accurate analysis.  Things look VERY different in a 2D photo than they do in person.... not to mention... do they even know these were from the attack at all and not something else? Has this guy done crater analysis before? It would be super easy to mess this this up, especially if only looking at few random photos.... furthermore a lot of the assumptions in there are predicated on it being sarin, which AFAIK is not reliably established either.

This information may well be "true", but at the end of the day, I just don't know.  It would be too easy to fake this sort of analysis, but there have been many "reports" of Assad using gas besides this latest incident.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 13, 2017, 05:52:18 PM

LinuxFreakus

So you need what exactly to believe that it was Assad? Pictures? Video? Jesus coming down from Heaven and whispering in your ear?

This is the real world. It's very rare that there is 100 percent proof of anything. But as even your biased person admits, the proof in this case leans towards it being Assad.

He's a hereditary dictator whose family and he himself have been more then willing to massacre civilians. Why is it such a far stretch to allow that he might use chemical weapons to kill women and children and non soldier men instead of bullets or bombs?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Pete at Home on April 13, 2017, 09:54:52 PM
Because we Americans are still the little boy that cried chemical weapons in Iraq.  So unless France, Englamd, Canada, Australia, basically everyone we dragged into Iraq, screams that Assad did it, we are going to twiddle thumbs. Our leadership record on this issue is tarnished.  Someone else needs to take point here.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Grant on April 14, 2017, 04:39:57 PM
Good to see everyone is still nuckinfutz on Syria. 
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Pete at Home on April 14, 2017, 08:50:34 PM
Good to see everyone is still nuckinfutz on Syria.

Actually, I was very strongly opposed to entry on the last go round before Germany & etc were invaded.  Putin's used the refugees to avenge Clinton's clusterbombing of Serbian kids to distract from his oval office blowjob.  That changes things somewhat.  Also, I was more suspicious last time of it being a false flag.

What are your thoughts on the matter?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 15, 2017, 07:07:59 AM
I have to admit that as much as I dislike Trump I find myself kind of digging this foreign policy.

Yeah, it's dangerous. Someone could call his bluff and then our president finds himself in a dick measuring contest that he is pathologically incapable of backing down from and we all die, but it's had results.

Assad used chemical weapons, Trump sent a very clear message that we're not cool with governments doing that. And I agree with him. Our ally western governments agreed with him. It was the right thing to do and it was, taking into account geopolitik, the correct and proportionate action.

And hey, look at this. 105th anniversary of the birth of Korean Hitler approaches and despite their track record if launching nukes and missiles on their anniversaries, the DPRK has done jack *censored*. They know he's serious.

And even China. They know where their bread is buttered. They've cut off accepting coal imports from NK (a bigger deal then it sounds) and they've said in their public statements that neither side should do anything that provokes the other. And while it's subtle, it's the first time I can remember them telling NK to STFU.

And on North Korea, that issue is our Holocaust. That thing where millions died and we just sat there. There will come a day when us or our children look on that the same way that we look on western countries sending back boats of Jewish refugees. There will come the day that we will look down on the mass graves and the concentration camps (fully viewable via Google earth, btw) and wonder what the hell where we thinking.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Grant on April 15, 2017, 08:26:23 AM
Good to see everyone is still nuckinfutz on Syria.

Actually, I was very strongly opposed to entry on the last go round before Germany & etc were invaded.  Putin's used the refugees to avenge Clinton's clusterbombing of Serbian kids to distract from his oval office blowjob.  That changes things somewhat.  Also, I was more suspicious last time of it being a false flag.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

My thoughts are exactly the same as they were four years ago.  I'm pretty consistent. It's basically the same situation. 

1. I don't have all the evidence.

2. Even if I did, I'm not completely qualified to evaluate all of it and all the contrary bs evidence.

3.  I'm never actually going to see all the evidence, because apparently it's mostly classified.   

4. It all comes down to trust, so tell me baby, who do you trust? 

5.  The main argument that the intel on Iraq WMD was FUBAR, so the IC and the government is not to be trusted, ignores the fact that the IC still is in a better position, with more expertise, than all the laypeople in the world.  The dumbest doctor is still much better at diagnosis, with all the tools and training, than the group of people you meet in the ER waiting room.  Ask yourself: Are you a doctor, or are you the guy in the waiting room looking up stuff on WebMD?  God bless the internet. 

6.  In terms of response, the only factor that has significantly changed is that we have (IMO) a better NSC to advise and generate a coherent strategy with a chance of attaining goals. The other factors are still the same:
     a.  Still don't have much faith in POTUS to lead.
     b.  American people largely still do not want to invest the blood and treasure I feel would be necessary to execute a successful strategy.

So given that two of the tires on my trike are still flat, what are the chances of getting across the interstate with it before getting flattened by an 18 wheeler?  Maybe with two tires I could give it a shot. 

 
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 15, 2017, 10:11:27 AM
5.  The main argument that the intel on Iraq WMD was FUBAR, so the IC and the government is not to be trusted, ignores the fact that the IC still is in a better position, with more expertise, than all the laypeople in the world.  The dumbest doctor is still much better at diagnosis, with all the tools and training, than the group of people you meet in the ER waiting room.  Ask yourself: Are you a doctor, or are you the guy in the waiting room looking up stuff on WebMD?  God bless the internet. 

The doctor may try to screw you out of money, but at the end of the day he's making his living by helping you to the best of his ability. If he deliberately lies to you or cheats you he opens himself up to lawsuit or worse. There is no fundamental conflict of interest here. In terms of government, and more specifically, agencies like the CIA, there is a direct conflict of interest almost across the board. And it's not like this is a paranoid person talking - it's the founding assumption of the U.S. The fact that many people nowadays want to trust the government by default is a break from the norm, because it was never the norm before. And yes, by the way, I would confidently state that I am more aware of what's in my best interest than the CIA does, and certainly have more of a stake on my own self-interest. I would view it as almost tautological that whatever the CIA wants to achieve is probably against my personal interests and values.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 15, 2017, 10:19:37 AM
Really? I can see that kind of view for the FBI, but the CIA?

The CIA can be monstrous and wrong but I've never seen anything to point out that they didn't at least *think* thst what they were doing was in the interests of Americans vs everyone else.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 15, 2017, 10:26:56 AM
Really? I can see that kind of view for the FBI, but the CIA?

The CIA can be monstrous and wrong but I've never seen anything to point out that they didn't at least *think* thst what they were doing was in the interests of Americans vs everyone else.

I legitimately don't think they've been operating in anyone's interest but their own since the 50's. I suspect that if the majority of their foreign activities over the years were actually known they'd be dismantled immediately. The FBI, on the other hand, probably has its share of corruption, collusion with politicians, and all the rest, but I would guess that the vast majority of daily FBI activity is just guys doing their jobs to police Federal crime. On my list of which Federal agencies are guilty of the worst malfeasance, I would put the CIA probably at the top, followed after a large gap by the NSA and DEA, with the FBI considerably below even them. Also, with regards to the FBI, I think you'll see a big disparity in honor between someone acting as head of the FBI, who effectively ends up being a political entity, and between regular agents who want to protect the American people. I definitely don't blame the regular agents for misdeeds by the few people in the organization who are corrupt.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 15, 2017, 10:37:07 AM
Can we acknowledge that given world politics, a country needs people to work outside the morality box?

The CIA never did anything worse then what the KGB did. And sure, that's a mighty low bar, but IMO the operators and their handlers absolutely thought that they were aiding American interests; even if what they did was morally bankrupt.

I don't think you'd find the same in the FBI. The FBI by design is supposed to go after Americans; the susceptibility of them to people with the money and power to go after fellow Americans is just reality.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: cherrypoptart on April 15, 2017, 11:11:27 AM
In other news...

https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/86c714a5-a515-3abb-86d1-778ac08aefff/iraq%3A-is-launches-chlorine.html

Iraq: IS launches chlorine gas attacks in western Mosul

 By Qassim Abdul-Zahra | AP April 15 at 8:48 AM

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi military officer says Islamic State militants have launched a gas attack in a newly-liberated area in western Mosul.

The officer with the anti-terrorism forces said Saturday that the attack occurred the night before in the al-Abar neighborhood, when IS fired a rocked loaded with chlorine. He said seven soldiers suffered breathing problems and were treated in a nearby field clinic.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I can't know what to make of it, of course, because just like everyone else here who has admitted as much I have no way of knowing what's really happening over there or who is responsible for it. The timing of this certainly doesn't help the official narrative any though.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: cherrypoptart on April 15, 2017, 11:18:44 AM
There is also this:

http://theblacksphere.net/2017/04/leftist-myth-busted-saddam-moved-wmd-from-iraq-to-syria/

by Kelly Beasley | Apr 7, 2017

Bombshell No. 1: Saddam Hussein hid Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) from 1991 until 2002.

    Interviewer No. 1 – “What did Saddam do with the weapons? Where did he hide them?”

    Sada – “These weapons were hidden from 1991 to year 2002. [Saddam] organized a, he created an organization only to hide the weapons.”

Bombshell No. 2 – In early June 2002, a dam on the Orontes River in Syria burst, causing a flood which killed 22 and displaced 4,000. Saddam Hussein used that natural disaster as an excuse to move his WMDs.

    Sada – “But in summer of 2002, a natural disaster happened in Syria, in the Zeyzoun area. A lot of floods were in that area. So Syria asked for humanitarian aid from the Arab countries. So that was the time when Saddam start thinking his evil way.”

    “He announced to the world that he’s going to aid Syria with humanitarian aid, by air and by ground. But that was not true. The truth is, he converted two airplanes we had, jumbo 747 and 727. And he converted them to cargo airplanes. And the [WMDs] were transported from Bagdad (Iraq) to Damascus (Syria).”

    “These two airplanes were permitted as civilian, regular passenger airplanes, for humanitarian purposes – old people, sick people – to go out of the country. But he used these airplane like this [to transport WMDs]. And these airplanes made 56 [trips] from Baghdad to Damascus, transporting the weapons, by a special secret way, by the Republican Guard.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That's what I always thought happened. Of course there is no way to prove it. I do see sometimes in stories that they say that it was proven that Saddam did NOT have chemical weapons. I don't see how any such thing was ever proven at all.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CONGRESS_GABBARD_SYRIA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-04-14-15-43-15

In an interview with The Associated Press, Gabbard said her focus is on the fact that Trump launched the attack on a Syrian air base without congressional approval and before the U.N. could carry out an investigation. She said it reminds her of the 2003 invasion of Iraq based on intelligence - later proven untrue - that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. "I and so many other veterans served in a war in Iraq that was based on false evidence and lies," Gabbard said.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

"Later proven untrue..." Really?

I've never heard anyone indicate what was in that convoy of trucks that went to Syria let alone the air flights into Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid that I didn't even know about so if we don't know what was going into Syria from Iraq how do we know what wasn't going in?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 15, 2017, 12:00:16 PM
And on North Korea, that issue is our Holocaust. That thing where millions died and we just sat there. There will come a day when us or our children look on that the same way that we look on western countries sending back boats of Jewish refugees. There will come the day that we will look down on the mass graves and the concentration camps (fully viewable via Google earth, btw) and wonder what the hell where we thinking.

N.Korea is a tightly wound nest of issues. It didn't start becoming a blatantly bad problem until after the fall of the Soviet Union. At which point there were, and still remain, two major stumbling blocks on doing anything, in particular militarily.

1) Seoul, South Korea is literally within artillery range of the N. Korean forces. If it comes to a firefight, or it looks to the N. Koreans that Seoul is preparing for one by, you know, evacuating. Then it's game on the civilian population around Seoul is in deep s---.

2) The entire reason N. Korea still exists as a nation, and why a cease fire was needed in the first place: China. By the 1990's China wasn't a nation anybody who was sane would casually ignore. NOTHING can be done to/against N. Korea without China's consent unless you want to risk a much larger conflagration.

So in that respect, what's happened there over the past 20-ish years rightfully belongs on the laps of China and to a much lesser extent S. Korea for allowing Seoul to be repopulated as it was after the cease-fire.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Grant on April 15, 2017, 12:37:04 PM
The problem with N Korea is that we can't remove the problem as easily as others.  N Korea has an entrenched, huge, formidable military force.  They have nuclear weapons and is headed by a madman who has no problems using them.  Forget shelling Seoul, they can nuke it, Hawaii, and if not now they will soon be able to hit California.  Put some VX gas in some shells headed to Seoul, Uijongbu, and TDC, and you're fooked.  Kim's basically got a gun to the heads of 50 million some odd people.  Add to that they have China backing them up.  So unless you are ready for war with China and millions of dead, you can't do anything.  The time would have been early 2000s and we got occupied.  We sent plenty of food when we could, in exchange for nuclear deals.  Didn't seem to work out. 

Iraq was easier.  No nukes.  Too scared to use their chemical weapons (yeah, they had them).  Russians were not yet involved deeply. 

Syria was easier to begin with.  Chemical weapons but unsure if Assad would use on US or NATO troops.  Assad would probably have been the easiest to buy off with a vacation palace in the south of France for his family.  I personally don't see him as crazy as Saddam or Kim.  He just wants to keep living the good life and stay alive.  All the rebels basically want him dead, and now he's got war crimes investigations on him at the UN. Then Russia got involved.  Now you have a similar situation as in NK with China.  Everyone is scared *censored*less now of the big bad Russians.  Add to the fact that they anchor our supply lines in Afghanistan.  Still easier to deal with than China.  China has a border to consider with North Korea, and probably not eager to have anyone but a puppet state sitting on it.  All Russia has in Syria is airfields and power projection.  Personally, I'd let Russia keep Syria if they agree to just topple the government and stabilize the country with massive force.  I'd love to see them get sucked into there for 100 years. 
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 15, 2017, 02:19:39 PM
I would at least feel better if there more evidence than "just trust us"... because those pictures and "analysis" based seemingly only on looking at those pictures are not a lot more than "just trust us".  And unfortunately given the number of false things that have been said by the intelligence community and the government, I can't "just trust them".


LinuxFreakus

So you need what exactly to believe that it was Assad? Pictures? Video? Jesus coming down from Heaven and whispering in your ear?

This is the real world. It's very rare that there is 100 percent proof of anything. But as even your biased person admits, the proof in this case leans towards it being Assad.

He's a hereditary dictator whose family and he himself have been more then willing to massacre civilians. Why is it such a far stretch to allow that he might use chemical weapons to kill women and children and non soldier men instead of bullets or bombs?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Grant on April 16, 2017, 09:06:07 AM
I think it's admirable that people want proof when the government is telling them something.  Nobody really wants to swallow wholesale what somebody tells them constantly.  Now the underlying reasons behind the lack of trust and where trust is actually placed is part of the problem, but probably a different subject from the one I'm going to tackle here.

The #1 problem with the evidence is when the public is actually qualified to effectively judge it or not.  We saw the same thing four years ago in Ghouta.  Some experts come out and say this.  Some other experts come out and say something different.  How is the public supposed to judge?  You can see the same thing happening this time.  Choose your own adventure:

You've got Ted Postol here: http://www.globalresearch.ca/assessment-of-white-house-intelligence-report-about-nerve-agent-attack-in-khan-shaykhun-syria/5584867
and here: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/04/addendum-dr-theodore-postols-assessment-white-house-report-syria-chemical-attack.html

and you have Dan Kazeta here:  https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2017/04/13/anatomy-sarin-bomb-explosion-part/

Ted is a professor at MIT and an overall ordinance expert.  He's been saying that the government, particularly the CIA, DOD, and POTUS, have been lying to the American people, since 2002, on a range of subjects.

Dan Kazeta is an NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) warfare expert in Britain. 

Ted claims that, by looking at the bomb fragments from the Khan Shaykun attack, you can surmise that the device used to deliver the agent was a pipe bomb or artillery shell, with a larger explosive placed on top of it to release the payload.  He points to Al-Nusra being the culprit behind the attack, and says that the IC and DOD is lying, with or without POTUS being in on it. 

Dan claims that the crater and bomb fragments are in line with an air delivered bomb load.  Dan doesn't really call anybody out by name, but there are only three players in the area that are flying; 1)The Syrian government, 2) The Russians, 3) The United States. 

There are other reports and open source investigation, like translated video, published flightpaths of Syrian attack fighters, and claimed eye-witness reports.

Both of Ted and Dan's analysis are based on looking at the impact crater and bomb debris.  Both are considered experts, though with different histories. 

Now, unless you also are trained in a high level of NBC warfare or a ordinance expert, you're going to have a hard time judging for yourself who is right and who is wrong.  That doesn't stop thousands of laypersons from choosing their own adventure.  But they're not judging the evidence using critical thinking, they're using confirmation bias to pick whichever presentation supports their pre-conceived notions and narrative.  If you believe that the government and the IC is generally lying to you constantly, you can pick Ted's story.  If you believe Assad is a general *censored* then you can believe Dan's story.  It doesn't matter whose evidence is better or true, because you're generally incapable of making an actual assessment of the evidence. 


All this of course brings us back full circle to the question of trust.  Who do you trust?  It's possible that you just don't trust the IC, because by nature they are secretive and involved in actions you don't approve of or because they've been proven wrong before.  It's possible that you don't really trust anybody at all, and demand a certain level of evidence when the dentist tells you that you have a cavity, despite the obvious conflict of interest involved (the dentist makes more money if you have a cavity).  But unless you have the technical no how and the sources of direct information, anybody could be fabricating evidence.  The dentist could be holding up an x-ray of Jethro's teeth as far as you know.  The doctor coming to cut off your leg due to sepsis could have the wrong one.  It's not like it hasn't happened before. 

So if you don't trust anybody at all, and demand evidence that you realize could be manufactured if necessary, you're generally going to be living in a state of paranoia.  The alternative is for you to have to trust somebody, even if it isn't the IC.  You may trust the media, or just particular members of the media.  You can trust bloggers or outside experts like Ted or Dan.  But all their evidence can be manufactured or countered.  You're going to have to base your trust on something.  It's not like the media or bloggers or experts havn't been wrong before.  You're probably back to trusting whichever media sources or experts back up your general beliefs or narrative.  You're back to confirmation bias. 

I think it's understandable and right that people don't just take the IC or the FBIs word on everything.  It's hard to trust somebody when they hold all the cards and refuse to show all of them to you.  It's like playing Texas Hold'em with a guy who refuses to show his hole cards.  "I have a full house, trust me".  But their are checks placed on the system.  The IC and FBI answer to the representative government of the US.  The managers of the IC and FBI are nominated by the executive branch and confirmed by the representative branch.  These are the people we vote for, presumably because we trust them.  They presumably nominate people that are trustworthy and may also demand to see evidence that is restricted to the public. 

Now, it could be you don't really trust the representative government either, or the IC.  Even the POTUS has accused the IC of lying.  And how is Cheetoh Jeezus or Representative Jethro supposed to know the difference between good evidence and bad?  It's not like POTUS or Congress has a great deal of NBC weapons experts in their number. 

The answer to that is that they really cannot, and the smart ones know that.  That's why the smart ones have staff members, which they trust, who do have levels of expertise in some of these subjects, or they know where to go to find an expert that is trusted.  This includes members of the NSC like the National Security Advisor, the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, and all of their staffs.  It's possible that they are all victims of confirmation bias as well, of course. 

The main point is that there is a check against an IC or FBI that is fabricating evidence or lying to the representative government.  They have the same interest that your doctor has for not lying to you.  If your doctor lies to you, they can be sued and they will lose business.  If the IC lies to the government, they can be fired and prosecuted as well.  So the deep state evil wizard cabal in the basement at Langley have the same reasons to not lie as your doctor, dentist, or mechanic does.  They want to keep their jobs, get promoted, keep their customers, and stay out of jail. 

The final subject I'd like to cover is the standards of proof required by individuals for foreign policy decisions.  Obviously we'd like to be as sure as possible when making decisions, especially when they involve us ending up killing people.  But in most cases there will never be 100% rock solid "beyond a shadow of a doubt" level of evidence or proof.  There will always be a chance of being wrong, no matter how slim.  There will always be that 0.0001% chance of being wrong that someone relying on their confirmation bias can latch on to.  Honestly, foreign intelligence usually don't reach that level.  The best you can usually hope for is a "beyond a reasonable doubt" when it comes to these things. 

That understandably bothers some people.  But if you are going to wait for 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt, you are generally going to end up freezing your foreign policy, especially against players like Russia and Syria who have great propaganda machines.  You're going to be incapable of timely action because you're never going to get that level of evidence you need to dispel all doubt.  You're going to be frozen in indecision. 

Unfortunately, foreign policy and other things cannot work this way.  Even our justice system cannot work this way.  Our domestic policy cannot work this way.  Even science doesn't really work this way.  Firefighters, police, soldiers, generals, surgeons, and all sorts of different necessary professions in the world cannot work this way. 

Now, everybody is going to have different levels of sufficient proof for different things. There is nothing you can really do about that except that point out that at some point a decision must be made, because indecision and inaction effects the universe just as strongly as action does. 

That's the end.  Have a happy Easter.   
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 16, 2017, 09:26:50 AM
Terrorists have been shown to fly airplanes into buildings, blow themselves up to kill people, an submit the people in their territory to enforced Shariah law and enforced marriage/rape.

I honestly don't understand any argument against what they're doing that depends on a "why would they do that?" argument.

They are absolutely varelse. They will sacrifice their women and children to kill other women and children in the name of Allah. They just don't care; and at the end of the day, they end up with thirteen year old brides who can't say no. That's their prize.

As compared to our collective moral system, they are absolutely monsters. I detest those on the left who ignore it to make points on racism and those on the right that ignore it because the dictators support us. Either way it's *censored*ed up.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Grant on April 16, 2017, 09:41:21 AM
To be fair, governments have been shown to fly airplanes into ships, kill their own people through numerous methods, and submit their people to some rather interesting law, for thousands of years. 

I'm not defending terrorism or terrorists, but they are not alone in being bad players. 

I also do not understand the arguments from lack of reason.  The fact that you can't think like a despot or a terrorist is probably a good thing.  People typically don't act from reason anyways. 
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: DJQuag on April 16, 2017, 09:55:24 AM
To be fair, governments have been shown to fly airplanes into ships, kill their own people through numerous methods, and submit their people to some rather interesting law, for thousands of years. 

I'm not defending terrorism or terrorists, but they are not alone in being bad players. 

I also do not understand the arguments from lack of reason.  The fact that you can't think like a despot or a terrorist is probably a good thing.  People typically don't act from reason anyways.

And what? That Imperial Japan gave young men suicide missions is supposed to excuse ISIS? Who the *censored* excuses Imperial Japan, anyway?(Not to mention what they did to China.)

History is history. If we clung to it, we'd be prosecuting Jewish people for the genocide of the people inhabiting the people of the Holy land.

But we dont. Because that would be idiotic. And if in this Era we collectively wish to tell Shariah law to *censored* off, I don't see the issue.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 16, 2017, 11:32:34 AM
I didn't read that as defending imperial Japan... I read it as pointing out that "terrorist organizations" can be very hard to distinguish from "governments".  It is likely that ISIS has been heavily supported if not created by the US and our allies.  The idea that there are freedom fighters or moderate rebels and that they aren't actually just shell groups for ISIS is probably a lie.

Remember back when Osama Bin Laden was an "anti-soviet freedom fighter" and his army was "fighting for peace"?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 17, 2017, 12:13:20 AM
Grant, by the halfway point of your long post I was considering "liking" it, until I hit this part:

The managers of the IC and FBI are nominated by the executive branch and confirmed by the representative branch.  These are the people we vote for, presumably because we trust them.

I don't even think it's a matter of opinion when I reply to your point that the people do not trust the Congress, and the fact that someone is always voted in doesn't at all mean that the Congress as a whole is trusted. I would imagine that Vermont, for instance, actually does trust its senators, but I doubt they trust the majority of the other ones.

This next part is even less agreeable to me, though:

Quote
The main point is that there is a check against an IC or FBI that is fabricating evidence or lying to the representative government.  They have the same interest that your doctor has for not lying to you.  If your doctor lies to you, they can be sued and they will lose business.  If the IC lies to the government, they can be fired and prosecuted as well.  So the deep state evil wizard cabal in the basement at Langley have the same reasons to not lie as your doctor, dentist, or mechanic does.  They want to keep their jobs, get promoted, keep their customers, and stay out of jail.

I thought you were doing well outlining how both sides will have difficulty verifying that they're putting their trust in the right place, and I would agree with that. But this part flipped what I was expected you to conclude with and, despite arguing that both sides are near-impossible to parse, you seem to nevertheless conclude decisively on the side of the IC. I guess I can understand someone picking that side; it's certainly more reassuring to imagine being taken care of by these agencies than feeling like terrible things are being done in your name and with your tax money. But the analogy you paint here seems to me really faulty, because the check against a dentist is a higher authority that keeps him honest. That check could be the dental association, the civil courts, and maybe another source or two that he would have to answer to. It's already been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no higher authority to which the CIA, NSA, or other such groups answer to. Oh sure, on paper they do, but in reality that is meaningless. When too many converging interests would prefer things remain as they are no side will turn in the other because then the house of cards falls and everyone involved is taken down. It doesn't work like that, and, in almost the complete reverse of what your analogy suggests, there are in fact strong checks in place to ensure that these groups cannot be taken to task for any particular acts they do. We learned for 99.9% certain that the CIA was conducting illegal (and grossly immoral) torture of prisoners, and what happened as a result? Nothing, and now the report is buried. What about the whistleblowing about the mass surveillance of the NSA? We had it all out in the open, and nothing happened even though it became common knowledge in no time. We know it was happening beyond their mandate, that 'wiretapping' of all people as a matter of course became the standard, and that this actually began prior to Patriot Act when such actions could even conceivably have been argued to be an interpretation of the law. So who is suing the NSA over this? From what I've read, those who have tried to bring suit against them have been declared to not have standing to sue. How about that time it was proven that the Congress was being spied on? Nothing. This list can go on endlessly. I won't even list 'supposed' crimes that are still called conspiracy theories because (as you say) the evidence isn't 100% conclusive. According to your theory the hammer should come down on these agencies every time one of them does something like this, just as it would on the dentist who lies about a cavity. So where's the hammer?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 17, 2017, 01:55:23 PM
In regards to conflicting 'expert' statements about what actually happened in Syria, here's an article I came across that outlines why we should doubt that Assad was behind the gas attack:

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/04/13/confirmed-the-intelligence-driving-the-syria-strike-is-fake/

Quote
Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has analyzed the rather thin “evidence” provided by the US government in a letter to former CIA analyst Larry C. Johnson:

“I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

“In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4.

“This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment, is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”

So is this guy correct? I can't say. I also can't say that someone who says the opposite is correct. And this is a problem that I personally can't solve to satisfaction, simply because I don't have the means. However what I do know is that I've not heard one credible explanation of a motive for Assad to do this; the ones I've read sound like James Bond villain logic. And I also know that there is ample motive for parties to blame such an attack on Assad, because they've been pushing for his ouster for many, many years (back to the early 2000's) and I have no doubt that they would have no compunctions about fabricating evidence if it would get that job done.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 17, 2017, 03:00:51 PM
He makes excellent points, many long the lines of how this discussion has been going, but at the end of the day he's still only going by public photos AFAIK, and its gonna be tough to ever say for sure because at this point its been way too long to trust the scene, and I don't think anyone credible ever went there to investigate (or if they did they didn't make the finding public).

In regards to conflicting 'expert' statements about what actually happened in Syria, here's an article I came across that outlines why we should doubt that Assad was behind the gas attack:

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/04/13/confirmed-the-intelligence-driving-the-syria-strike-is-fake/

Quote
Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has analyzed the rather thin “evidence” provided by the US government in a letter to former CIA analyst Larry C. Johnson:

“I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

“In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4.

“This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment, is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”

So is this guy correct? I can't say. I also can't say that someone who says the opposite is correct. And this is a problem that I personally can't solve to satisfaction, simply because I don't have the means. However what I do know is that I've not heard one credible explanation of a motive for Assad to do this; the ones I've read sound like James Bond villain logic. And I also know that there is ample motive for parties to blame such an attack on Assad, because they've been pushing for his ouster for many, many years (back to the early 2000's) and I have no doubt that they would have no compunctions about fabricating evidence if it would get that job done.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Seriati on April 17, 2017, 03:27:08 PM
I didn't read that as defending imperial Japan... I read it as pointing out that "terrorist organizations" can be very hard to distinguish from "governments".

When the government of Japan surrendered, the suicide attacks stopped.  Show me the terrorist organization for which that is true.  Movements are not equal to countries.

Quote
It is likely that ISIS has been heavily supported if not created by the US and our allies.

Meaning what?  Is the idea that if a ex-soldier becomes a serial killer, we should attribute that to the US government for giving him the training?   

I grant, you this is a particular American problem.  We make local allies when we can, sometimes they later grow to hate us.  Our system of government, where we can flip policies on their heads within a four year time period is conducive to betrayal of allied interests, we're always going to make our "friends" mad at us.

Quote
Remember back when Osama Bin Laden was an "anti-soviet freedom fighter" and his army was "fighting for peace"?

Do you ever wonder what would have happened if we were capable of sustaining a consistent long term foreign policy?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Grant on April 17, 2017, 03:36:14 PM
Fenring,

I already posted the reports that Ted Postol put out in my own long post.  I also posted (IMO) the most significant expert witness countering Postol's take on the bombing, Dan Kazeta.  You have a number of options available.  You can read each one's arguments and counterarguments and the evidence they provide to see which one you believe holds up better.  You can take a look and see what surrounding experts are saying, and who they are backing.  You could take a look at what kind of laypeople are backing each story.  Who is attracting the most professionals with critical thinking backgrounds or engineering backgrounds, and who is attracting the most support from people without the ability to know the difference and are simply backing that person due to confirmation bias.  That really isn't scientific or logical though.  5 million Elvis fans could be wrong I suppose.

As to the possible motive of Assad, the best guesses have been from people like Tom Nichols (a professor at the Naval War College with a PhD in Government), Dan Kazeta, Luke O'Brien (an Army Officer and a grad student at Missouri State studying WMDs), and several present and former US Army Arabic translators.  But this has all been on Twitter, which is hardly a good forum for long form response and presentation.  To summarize the consensus that I find the most believable, Assad gasses his enemies because he's fighting a war against them.  He's been fighting for years and isn't really getting anywhere fast.  Chemical weapons are awesome in COIN operations because they cover wide areas, kill indiscriminately, and cause terror and fear.  The central aim in war is to bend the enemy to your will, primarily by killing them or threatening to.  Chemical weapons makes it easy for Assad to kill his enemies and the civilians that are supporting them. 

Presented this way, it's rather simple war 101 stuff.  Assad gasses his enemies for the same reason the Germans and Allies did during WWI.  It's good at killing people.   It's easier and cheaper than sending a Battalion of troops to secure the area. Assad can either take x years to reassert control over Syria through conventional means, or use chemical weapons and reassert control over Syria in x/y years.   

As to fabricating evidence, I don't think that anyone is actually arguing the actual evidence on the ground.  There are the pictures, the flight tracking, the soil and corpse samples, and the statements and videos from the witnesses and doctors.  The primary argument seems to be as to what the evidence actually adds up to.  Do the pictures show a crater made by an air delivered bomb, or a pipebomb exploded by an artillery shell? 


Now, as to my earlier long post, my purpose was not to get a bunch of likes, but to initiate some thought.  If you were reading simply to see if it matched up with your own thinking, then the post really wasn't for you. 

When it comes to Congress and the POTUS's duty to keep the IC in check, particularly in the case of the enhanced interrogation scandals, you probably need to direct your questions to President Barrack Obama.  It is his duty to prosecute criminal action by the IC.  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence did an investigation.  They put out a report.  I'm unsure if it recommended prosecutions.  I believe the general Republican response was that the report was a political circus and that there was never any standing for prosecution in the first place.  But I do know that the checks went through the motions. After information was not provided timely to Congress, the Senate called for an investigation.  There was one.  There was a report.  The President was given the report and the Justice Department had an opportunity to press charges. 

In this case, if a failure occurred, it occurred at the Executive branch and possibly the Legislative branch if the report found criminal activity but did not recommend prosecution without some cause.  This would be an example of why it is important to vote for candidates we can trust for the Presidency, but before we are too harsh on President Obama, it pays to remember that he does have many heavy responsibilities and has access to information unavailable to the public. 

When and if the entire representative government turns corrupt, there is really nothing you can do other than vote for different individuals.  If you believe the entire government is corrupt, it's true that you cannot trust anything and anyone that is presented to you by the government.  As long as you do trust some aspects of it, you probably have better reason to believe that bad actors are held in check or at least exposed. 

When it comes to the question of Assad, only two members of Congress seem to be of the opinion that Assad was not responsible in 2013 and just recently; Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Tom Massie of Kentucky.  That means the vast majority seem to be backing the IC.  The POTUS's advisers are backing the IC as well, despite the somewhat rocky relationship between the IC and Cheetoh J.  If in fact the IC is manufacturing evidence or falsifying it, then it seems to be getting past SECDEF, SECSTATE, the NatSec Advisor, the Senate and House intel committees, and all their staffs. 

There are two possibilities.  Either the IC is presenting good info and the legislative and executive branches are able to discern it, or the IC is presenting false evidence, perhaps with the collusion of the entire executive branch, and all their staff, which then fools all of the legislative branch and all of their staffs.  The second option calls for a high degree of nefariousness, collusion, and stupidity.  It's not quite Bond movie, but more of a plot for a Despicable Me sequel or maybe an Austin Powers movie.  The first option only requires that there are only some competent and trustworthy people in government and that people will listen to them because they know and trust them. 
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 17, 2017, 05:54:37 PM

When the government of Japan surrendered, the suicide attacks stopped.  Show me the terrorist organization for which that is true.  Movements are not equal to countries.


I'm not sure I follow.  Why does it matter if Japan stopped after surrender or not, or whether a "terrorist group" would do the same? The IRA declared a ceasefire in 1994, which seems to have stuck so far...
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Seriati on April 18, 2017, 09:44:23 AM
Because that's how you tell the difference (in part) between state and non-state actors.  You can make a peace treaty with a state and hold it to account for its citizens.  Movements, particularly cell based ones, are like herding cats when it comes to moving forward.  You can also hold states accountable for war crimes afterwards.

Good call on the IRA, should have remembered that, though if I recall that was more a reaction to 9/11 than anything else.  Both because US funding dried up completely, and because no one wanted to be associated with the labeling that would have applied to them at the time.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: cherrypoptart on April 18, 2017, 10:20:10 AM
https://www.yahoo.com/news/isis-militants-launch-multiple-chemical-161607087.html

ISIS Militants Launch Multiple Chemical Weapons Attacks On Iraqi Troops
Tom O’Connor,Newsweek 21 hours ago


"The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) launched Sunday its second chemical weapons attack against Iraqi soldiers in two days, sending pro-government forces to the hospital in an attempt to slow an offensive to oust the jihadists from their final stronghold of Mosul."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Not saying this proves anything, but it's information that should be taken into account. I'm convinced that there is a greater likelihood that Assad was innocent of the chemical weapons attack than that he did it and this ISIS chemical weapons attack in Syria moves the meter on the scale of certainty from perhaps 55 / 45 in favor of Assad being innocent to maybe 60 / 40. Still doesn't mean I know anything but sometimes all you can do is wonder. Certainly if our government doesn't have much more information than what they've put out, it was a huge mistake to just assume Assad was guilty and then bomb him on that assumption.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: NobleHunter on April 18, 2017, 10:49:56 AM
Because that's how you tell the difference (in part) between state and non-state actors.  You can make a peace treaty with a state and hold it to account for its citizens.  Movements, particularly cell based ones, are like herding cats when it comes to moving forward.  You can also hold states accountable for war crimes afterwards.

Good call on the IRA, should have remembered that, though if I recall that was more a reaction to 9/11 than anything else.  Both because US funding dried up completely, and because no one wanted to be associated with the labeling that would have applied to them at the time.
If it was '94 wouldn't it have been a reaction Oklahoma City or the WTC bombing? [is too lazy to doublecheck on Wikipedia/]
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Grant on April 18, 2017, 11:38:05 AM
https://www.yahoo.com/news/isis-militants-launch-multiple-chemical-161607087.html

Not saying this proves anything, but it's information that should be taken into account. I'm convinced that there is a greater likelihood that Assad was innocent of the chemical weapons attack than that he did it and this ISIS chemical weapons attack in Syria moves the meter on the scale of certainty from perhaps 55 / 45 in favor of Assad being innocent to maybe 60 / 40. Still doesn't mean I know anything but sometimes all you can do is wonder. Certainly if our government doesn't have much more information than what they've put out, it was a huge mistake to just assume Assad was guilty and then bomb him on that assumption.

Some questions I might have:

1.  What type of agent was used?  What kind of evidence is given?  What do reports say about the symptoms, the amount of casualties, the density of the population in the area?

2.  What types of agents are suspected to be in the possession of different factions?  What is the evidence for this? 

3.  What was the suspected delivery method?  Who has access to these types of methods? 

There are three general hypotheses.

1.  Assad has used chemical weapons and nobody else has. 

2.  Assad has never used chemical weapons and everybody else is trying to frame him. 

3.  Both Assad and opposition groups, including possibly ISIS, Al-Nusra, or even the FSA have utilized chemical weapons. 


So we walk into a large room and Lex Luthor, the Joker, Sinestro and Doctor Psycho are surrounded by their dead gangs, all with evidence of chemical poisoning.  Each points to the other and says "he did it".  Can we assume that there is only a single perpetrator?  Should we concentrate on means, motive and opportunity? 
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Fenring on April 18, 2017, 12:56:31 PM
So we walk into a large room and Lex Luthor, the Joker, Sinestro and Doctor Psycho are surrounded by their dead gangs, all with evidence of chemical poisoning.  Each points to the other and says "he did it".  Can we assume that there is only a single perpetrator?  Should we concentrate on means, motive and opportunity?

I like this image, but the only thing it's missing is the premise that multiple G20 nations are known to be backing The Joker and have it out for Lex Luthor. If it was just a grab bag of conflicting 'bad guys' we could call it a day and just throw our arms up in the air. Instead we should be asking not whether there is only one perpetrator (there are probably no good actors in such a scenario) but, rather, why anyone would rather prop up The Joker instead of Luthor? I chose these characters out of your mix deliberately because it might be possible to reason with Luthor, but the Joker will always be out of control. Oh yeah, let's throw Doctor Psycho into my analogy by calling him the "moderate rebels."
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: linuxfreakus on April 18, 2017, 02:43:25 PM
Right but the problem is that if states are covertly funding and supporting these "non-state actors" are they really "non-state actors".  The distinction is very blurry.

Because that's how you tell the difference (in part) between state and non-state actors.  You can make a peace treaty with a state and hold it to account for its citizens.  Movements, particularly cell based ones, are like herding cats when it comes to moving forward.  You can also hold states accountable for war crimes afterwards.

Good call on the IRA, should have remembered that, though if I recall that was more a reaction to 9/11 than anything else.  Both because US funding dried up completely, and because no one wanted to be associated with the labeling that would have applied to them at the time.
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: NobleHunter on April 18, 2017, 03:29:18 PM
Right but the problem is that if states are covertly funding and supporting these "non-state actors" are they really "non-state actors".  The distinction is very blurry.
Particularly when the states funding hostile non-state actors are states we want to pretend are on our side.

The official position on Saudi Arabia is "there is no war in Ba Sing Se."
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: Pete at Home on April 21, 2017, 05:08:39 PM
Technocally, is Polonium poisoning a type of chemical weapon?
Title: Re: Syria Chemical Attack 2.0
Post by: TheDeamon on April 21, 2017, 08:18:52 PM
Technocally, is Polonium poisoning a type of chemical weapon?

Use of pepper mace spray by the US military on non-US citizens has been interpreted as use of chemical weapons under the war crimes prohibitions of the Geneva Conventions by JAG.

Edit: Clarification, I think it actually was a case of certain foreign nations interpreting the Geneva conventions in such a manner that JAG advised against use of pepper mace spray by visiting security forces because they'd risk prosecution for war crimes.