Dr. Theodore Postol on the fabricated Sarin “Attack” | PODCAST

https://scotthorton.org/interviews/42617-theodore-postol-on-the-white-houses-false-claims-regarding-the-april-4th-syrian-nerve-agent-attack/

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/the-french-intelligence-report-of-april-26-2017-contradicts-the-allegations-in-the-white-house-intel.html

[NOTE FROM PUBLIUS TACITUS–Here is the latest from Dr. Postol. He correctly notes the discrepancy between the White House account of what happened at Khan Sheikhoun and that now offered by the Government of France. The key point is this–both the United States and the French are lying about what actually happened. The Government of Syria did not use a chemical weapon on April 4.]

Theodore A. Postol

Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Attached below are data derived from the French Intelligence Report published yesterday on April 26, 2017. A reading of the report instantaneously indicates that the French Intelligence Report of April 26, 2017 directly contradicts the White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017. The discrepancies between these two reports essentially result in two completely different narratives alleging nerve agent attacks in Syria on April 11, 2017. The fact that these two intelligence reports allege totally different circumstances associated with the same alleged event raises very serious questions that need to be investigated and reported to the American public.

The White House Intelligence Report (WHR) of April 11 alleged that a crater in the Northeast corner of Khan Sheikhoun was the source of a sarin release that killed and injured a significant number of people. The WHR cited publicly available evidence showing the crater where the alleged sarin release occurred and the areas adjacent to it. Inspection of the crater shown on video cited by the WHR showed that there was no evidence to show that the crater had been created by an airdropped chemical dispersal munition. Also of concern is that none of the local Syrian journalistic reports from that location showed the populated area that was immediately (within tens of meters) downwind of the alleged aerosol dispersal that would have been filled with nerve agent casualties. Instead, the local Syrian journalists walked in the opposite direction from the alleged aerosol dispersal plume to show a dead goat that was well up wind of the alleged dispersal.

Now, more than two weeks after the dubious allegations published in the WHR, the French Government has released a report that totally contradicts the already dubious allegations in the WHR.

The French Report instead claims that there were at least three munitions dropped from helicopters in the town of Saraqib, more than 30 miles north of the alleged sarin release crater identified by the WHR.

The WHR claims that a fixed wing aircraft was the originator of the airdropped munition at the alleged dispersal site. The French Intelligence Report alleges that a helicopter was used to drop sarin loaded grenades at three different locations in Saraqib.

Both reports cannot simultaneously be true.

The French Report essentially refutes the claims in the White House Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017. This is yet another indication that there are fundamental problems with the claims made by the White House that were used to justify the April 7, 2017 military strike in Syria. It also raises questions about statements praising the accuracy of the WHR by the National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster, and the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. Both claimed very high confidence in the quality and accuracy of the intelligence from the WHR.The French Intelligence Report can be found at http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/countryfiles/syria/events/article/chemical-attack-in-syria-national-evaluation-presented-by-jean-marc-ayrault on a webpage titled French Diplomacy (France Diplomatie). The description of the intelligence report and its appendix is under the subject heading Chemical Attack in Syria – National Evaluation presented by Jean-Marc Ayrault following the Defense Council Meeting (26 April 2017)

In addition, the appendix of the French Report lists the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 as proven to have been perpetrated by the Syrian government. Yet an article published in The Atlantic in April 2016 authored by Jeffrey Goldberg reported that President Obama said that he was told by James Clapper, the then Director of National Intelligence, that it was not a “slamdunk” that the Syrian government was the perpetrator of the attack in Damascus on August 21, 2013.

It therefore seems that there are extremely serious discrepancies in multiple intelligence reports that, at a minimum, raise fundamental questions about the veracity of the White House Intelligence Report – and the French Intelligence Report as well. This in turn raises serious questions about how the White House produced an alleged intelligence report that has been shown to have inconsistencies that indicate it could not possibly have been produced and reviewed by the professional US intelligence community.

 

Map Showing the Contradictory Narratives in the White House and French Intelligence Reports about Alleged Sarin Attack in Idlib on April 4, 2017

Map Showing Contradiction Between US and France

Map Constructed from WHR and the contradicting French Report and Appendix at the Following URL http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/syria/events/article/chemical-attack-in-syria-nationalevaluation-presented-by-jean-marc-ayrault

Map from the French Intelligence Report Showing the Three Locations Targetted 30 Miles North of Khan Sheikhoun Where a Helicopter Allegedly Dropped Sarin Dispersing Munitions

The French Intelligence Report of April 26  2017 Contradicts Allegations in White House Intelligence Report of April 11  2017_Optimized_

 

Inaccurate Assertions

Video Images of the Area where WHR Alleged Sarin-Releasing Crater Was Extensively Photographed and Reported on by Local Journalists in Khan Sheikhoun

Video Images of Area Re WHR

 

Google Earth Image Showing the Direction of the Toxic Plume from the Sarin- Releasing Crater Alleged by WHR in Khan Sheikhoun

Google Earth Image of Plume

 

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur: Analysis of the Times and Locations of Critical Events in the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at 7 AM on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria

By Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT.  Postol’s main expertise is in ballistic missiles. He has a substantial background in air dispersal, including how toxic plumes move in the air. Postol has taught courses on weapons of mass destruction – including chemical and biological threats – at MIT.  Before joining MIT, Postol worked as an analyst at the Office of Technology Assessment, as a science and policy adviser to the chief of naval operations, and as a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory.  He also helped build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study weapons technology in relation to defense and arms control policy. Postol is a highly-decorated scientist, receiving the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society, the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Richard L. Garwin Award from the Federation of American Scientists.

For background on Dr. Postol’s previous essays on this issue, see:

THE NERVE AGENT ATTACK THAT DID NOT OCCUR:
ANALYSIS OF THE TIMES AND LOCATIONS OF CRITICAL EVENTS IN THE ALLEGED NERVE AGENT ATTACK AT 7 AM ON APRIL 4, 2017 IN KHAN SHEIKHOUN, SYRIA

Introduction

This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space and the sarin cloud would have had to travel long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.

Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated from sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos.

The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

The findings of this analysis can serve two important purposes:

  1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity. In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will further confirm that the findings reported by the WHR are not compatible with the data it cites as evidence for its conclusions.
  2. It also establishes that the WHR did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the WHR presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and to a standard of high confidence.

Methodology Used in This Analysis

The construction of the time of day at which particular video frames were generated is determined by simply using the planetary geometry of the sun angle during the day on April 4. The illustration below of the sun-angle geometry shows the Day/Night Sun Terminator at the location of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The angle of the sun relative to local horizontal is summarized in the table that follows the image of the planetary geometry along with the temperature during the day between 6:30 AM and 6 PM.

The next set of two side-by-side images shows the shadows at a location where a large number of poison victims are being treated in what appears to be the aftermath of a poisoning event. The shadows indicate that this event occurred at about 7:30 AM. This is consistent with the possibility of a nerve agent attack at 7 AM on the morning of April 4 and it is also consistent with the allegation in the WHR that an attack occurred at 6:55 AM on that day.

The timing sequence of the attack is important for determining the consistency of the timelines with the allegations of a sarin release at the crater identified in the WHR.

Assuming there was an enough sarin released from the crater identified by the WHR to cause mass casualties at significant downwind distances, the sarin would have drifted downwind at a speed of 1 to 2 m/s and for several minutes before encountering the only location where mass casualties could have occurred from this particular release. The location where these mass casualties would have had to occur will be identified and described in the next section. If there was a sarin release elsewhere, mass casualties would have not occurred at this location but would have occurred somewhere else in the city.

Assuming the victims of the attack were exposed to the plume, the symptoms of sarin poisoning would have express themselves almost immediately. As such, the scene at 7:30 AM on April 4 is absolutely consistent with the possibility of a mass poisoning downwind of the sarin-release crater.

The next figure shows the earliest photograph we have been able to find of an individual standing by the sarin-release crater where the alleged release occurred. The photo was posted on April 4 and the shadow indicates the time of day was around 10:50 AM. Thus the individual was standing by the crater roughly 4 hours after the dispersal event.

If the dispersal event was from this crater, the area where this unprotected individual is standing would be toxic and this individual would be subjected to the severe and possibly fatal effects of sarin poisoning. As a result, this throws substantial suspicion on the possibility that the crater identified by WHR would be the source of the sarin release.

At the time of the sarin release, the temperature of the air was about 60°F and the sun was at an angle of only 8° relative to local horizontal. This means that liquid sarin left on the ground from the dispersal event would remain mostly unevaporated. By 11 AM, the temperature of the air had risen to 75° and the angle of the sun relative to horizontal was at 66°. Thus, one would expect that the combination of the rise in air temperature and the sun on the crater would lead to significant evaporation of liquid sarin left behind from the initial dispersal event. The air temperature and sun angle are such that the area around the crater should have been quite dangerous for anybody without protection to operate.

This is therefore an important indication that the crater was probably not a dispersal site of the sarin.

The final set of three photographs shows arriving victims seeking treatment at a hospital at some location in Khan Sheikhoun. The arrivals at the hospital are at between 9 and 10:30 AM on the day of the attack. This is perhaps late since victims were seriously exposed by 7:30 AM, but victims could have been trailing in after the initial arrival of severely affected victims. This time is considerably earlier than the time at which WHR alleges that a hospital was attacked while treating victims of the poisoning attack.

In the next section we discuss the location where mass casualties should have occurred if the sarin release occurred at the location alleged by the WHR.

Postol 1Khan Shaykhun Sun Angles
Relative to Local Horizontal on April 4, 2017

Local Time of Day in Khan
ShayKhun on April 4, 2017
Surface Temperature
in Degrees Fahrenheit
Sun Angle in Degrees Relative to
Local Horizontal
6:30 58.16 1.20
7.00 60.24 8.40
7:30 62.39 15.60
8.00 64.55 22.80
8:30 66.68 30.00
9.00 68.74 37.20
9:30 70.69 44.40
10.00 72.51 51.60
10:30 74.15 58.80
11.00 75.59 66.00
11:30 76.81 73.20
12.00 77.80 80.40
12:30 78.53 87.60
13.00 79.01 94.80
13:30 79.24 102.00
14.00 79.22 109.20
14:30 78.96 116.40
15.00 78.48 123.60
15:30 77.81 130.80
16.00 76.99 138.00
16:30 76.04 145.20
17.00 75.03 152.40
17:30 74.01 159.60
18.00 73.05 166.80

Postol 3

Postol 4Postol 5a

Identification of the Location of the Mass Casualties

The figure on the next page shows the direction of the toxic sarin plume based on the assumption that the alleged release point was the crater identified by WHR. The wind conditions at the time of the release, which would have been at about 7 AM on April 4, would have carried the plume across an empty field to an isolated Hamlet roughly 300 m downwind from the crater.

Although there were some walls and structures that would have somewhat attenuated and inhibited the movement of the aerosol cloud from the release point, the open field would be an ideal stable wind environment to transmit the remaining sarin cloud with minimal distortion and dispersal. As such, it is plausible that the sarin cloud could with the weather conditions at that time have led to mass casualties at the Hamlet.

The sarin dosage level that results in 50% of exposed victims dying is known as the LD50. The LD50 for sarin is about 100 mglmin/m3.

The dose quantity mglmin/m3 can be understood simply.

An exposure of about 100 mglmin/m3 simply means that a victim is within an environment for one full minute when there is 100 mg/m3 of sarin in the air. If the victim is instead in an environment for 10 minutes where there is a density of sarin of 10 mg/m3, they will also receive a lethal dose of 100 mglmin/m3.

Assuming 5 to 10 liters were aerosolized at the crater as alleged by the WHR, this would have resulted in an average sarin exposure at the Hamlet at 300 m range of about 10 to 20 mglmin/m3, assuming wind and temperature conditions that are near ideal for lethal exposures downwind. This estimate assumes that an individual would be outside and exposed to the sarin as the gas cloud passes by.

Postol 6Postol 7Postol 8Postol 9

Since a cloud of sarin would not be uniformly mixed, there will be regions in the cloud that have much higher and lower doses than the average. In addition, as the cloud passes, sarin entering into open windows of aboveground and basement rooms would tend to become trapped inside these rooms creating a significantly longer exposure to the nerve agent, certainly leading to lethal levels if residents did not evacuate the rooms immediately. Also, since the nerve agent cloud would be passing through an area that has buildings, it will tend to flow around, over buildings, and down into open basement windows, resulting in buildups of sarin in some locations and diminished levels of sarin at other locations.

As such, the Hamlet could well have been within lethal range of the sarin exposure. However, areas further downwind from the Hamlet would be sufficiently far away that the sarin will have dispersed sufficiently that it would not be capable of causing deaths.

Thus, the Hamlet area 300 m downwind of the crater is the only area where mass casualties could  occur if there had been a sarin release at the crater as alleged by the WHR!

The selected video frames collected on the next two pages show three important sets of data that indicate the following:

  1. Unprotected civilians with clothing that have logos of the Idlib Health Directorate are tampering with the contents of the crater crater that the WHR alleges was the source of the sarin release. All of the indicators point to a ruptured tube that could have contained no more than 8 to 10 liters of sarin. This is the only container shown in any videos from this scene.
  2. The next collection of video frames shows panoramic views of the target area taken from a drone equipped with a video camera. As can be seen in the video frames, a goat that was allegedly killed from the sarin dispersal is close to downwind of the alleged dispersal site.

However, the Hamlet that should have experienced major casualties if the alleged dispersal site had been correctly identified is only 300 m down range, and easily reachable by simply walking over to the site.

Yet none of the video journalists refer in any way to a mass casualty site nearby. They simply focus on a dead goat and present out of context images of a few dead birds. It is remarkable that no video journalists of the many who reported from this crater area referred in any way to the mass casualties that could only have occurred 300 m away if the attack had been executed from this crater.

  1. The last collection of 18 video frames is from the area where mass casualties were piled on the ground haphazardly dead or dying. Among these casualties were infants as well as men and women. This scene clearly could not have been at the location of the Hamlet as one can see that the walls surrounding the area are carved out of rock. Thus, this scene could not possibly have been at the Hamlet.

These video frames were generated by reviewing hundreds of videos posted on YouTube plus additional videos and video frames found on Twitter.

Among the hundreds of videos reviewed there seems to be no more than 50 to 60 seconds of actual original scenes like those laid out in the collection of 18 videos below. The vast majority of time in the videos contains the same repeated sequences of the same dead and injured infants and adults that could all be collected into less than a couple of minutes of independent scenes.

The overwhelming evidence is that these videos repeat nothing more than redundant scenes that suggest one terrible event might have occurred. Almost none of the scenes contain any different information from the others. This raises a serious question about how much real data has been supplied that would indicate an actual significant nerve agent attack.

What is absolutely clear from the videos is that the location of the sarin dispersal site alleged by WHR and the mass casualty site that would have had to be generated if the sarin dispersal actually occurred, are not in any way related to the scenes of victims shown in the other videos. The conclusion is obvious, the alleged attack described in WHR never occurred.

Postol 10Postol 12          Postol 13Postol 14

Final Comments

This abbreviated summary of the facts has been constructed entirely from basic physics, video evidence, and absolutely solid analytical methods. It demonstrates without doubt that the sarin dispersal site alleged as the source of the April 4, 2017 sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun was not a nerve agent attack site.

It also shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only mass casualty site that could have resulted from this mass attack is not in any way related to the sites that are shown in video following a poisoning event of some kind at Khan Sheikhoun.

This means that the allegedly “high confidence” White House intelligence assessment ssued on April 11 that led to the conclusion that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack is not correct. For such a report to be so egregiously in error, it could not possibly have followed the most simple and proven intelligence methodologies to determine the veracity of its findings.

Since the United States justified attacking a Syrian airfield on April 7, four days before the flawed National Security Council intelligence report was released to the Congress and the public, the conclusion that follows is that the United States took military actions without the intelligence to support its decision.

Furthermore, it is clear that the WHR was not an intelligence report.

No competent intelligence professional would have made so many false claims that are totally inconsistent with the evidence. No competent intelligence professional would have accepted the findings in the WHR analysis after reviewing the data presented herein. No competent intelligence professionals would have evaluated the crater that was tampered with in terms described in the WHR.

Although it is impossible to know from a technical assessment to determine the reasons for such an egregiously amateurish report, it cannot be ruled out that the WHR was fabricated to conceal critical information from the Congress and the public.

Appendix

Resource Materials Used To DetermineLocalWeather Conditions andSun Angles
Needed to Verify the above Analysis

Khan Shaykhun, Idlib Historical Weather, Syria

The past date should be after 1st July, 2008 onwards
Tue 04th Apr, 2017

Time WeatherTemp Feels Like Rain

Wind

Gust Rain? Cloud

Humidity

Pressure

00:00 03:00 06:00 09:00 12:00 15:00 18:00 21:00
10 °c 10 °c 13 °c 21 °c 25 °c 26 °c 23 °c 20 °c
10 °c 10 °c 13 °c 21 °c 24 °c 24 °c 24 °c 20 °c
0.0 mm        0.0 mm       0.0 mm      0.0 mm       0.0 mm      0.0 mm       0.0 mm      0.0 mm
4 mph
SSW
3 mph
S
2 mph
SE
4 mphE 7 mph
ENE
10 mph
ENE
11 mph
ENE
10 mph
ENE
8 mph 6 mph 4 mph 4 mph 8 mph 12 mph 17 mph 20 mph
0%                  0%            0%             0%           0%7%                  2%            1%             1%           6%

94%                91%          76%            40%         19%

0%            0%             0%
20% 25% 21%
17%           25%          33%
1022 mb 1022 mb 1023 mb 1023 mb 1022 mb 1021 mb 1021 mb 1021 mb

 

Khan Shaykhun Past weather on 04th April

2mph = 0.9 m/sec
3mph = 1.3 m/sec
4mph = 1.8 m/sec

3 to 4 Minutes from Crater to Residences

https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/syria/damascus
April 2017 — Sun in Damascus

Month:
2017 Apr Sunrise/SunsetSunrise                             Sunset Length DaylengthDifference Astronomical TwilightStart                          End Nautical TwilightStart                  End Civil TwilightStart                     End Solar NoonTime                              Mil. mi
1 6:22 am t (84°) 6:55 pm t (276°) 12:32:44 +2:03 4:58 am 8:19 pm 5:28 am 7:49 pm 5:57 am 7:20 pm 12:38 pm (61.2°) 92.896
2 6:21 am t (83°) 6:55 pm t (277°) 12:34:48 +2:03 4:56 am 8:20 pm 5:26 am 7:50 pm 5:56 am 7:21 pm 12:38 pm (61.6°) 92.922
3 6:19 am t (83°) 6:56 pm t (277°) 12:36:51 +2:03 4:55 am 8:21 pm 5:25 am 7:51 pm 5:54 am 7:21 pm 12:37 pm (61.9°) 92.948
4 6:18 am t (83°) 6:57 pm t (278°) 12:38:54 +2:03 4:53 am 8:22 pm 5:23 am 7:52 pm 5:53 am 7:22 pm 12:37 pm (62.3°) 92.974
5 6:17 am t (82°) 6:58 pm t (278°) 12:40:58 +2:03 4:52 am 8:23 pm 5:22 am 7:53 pm 5:52 am 7:23 pm 12:37 pm (62.7°) 93.000
6 6:15 am t (82°) 6:58 pm t (279°) 12:43:00 +2:02 4:50 am 8:24 pm 5:21 am 7:53 pm 5:50 am 7:24 pm 12:37 pm (63.1°) 93.026
7 6:14 am t (81°) 6:59 pm t (279°) 12:45:02 +2:02 4:49 am 8:25 pm 5:19 am 7:54 pm 5:49 am 7:24 pm 12:36 pm (63.5°) 93.052
8 6:13 am t (81°) 7:00 pm t (279°) 12:47:04 +2:01 4:47 am 8:26 pm 5:18 am 7:55 pm 5:48 am 7:25 pm 12:36 pm (63.8°) 93.079
9 6:12 am t (80°) 7:01 pm t (280°) 12:49:05 +2:01 4:46 am 8:27 pm 5:16 am 7:56 pm 5:46 am 7:26 pm 12:36 pm (64.2°) 93.105
10 6:10 am t (80°) 7:01 pm t (280°) 12:51:07 +2:01 4:44 am 8:28 pm 5:15 am 7:57 pm 5:45 am 7:27 pm 12:36 pm (64.6°) 93.131
11 6:09 am t (79°) 7:02 pm t (281°) 12:53:07 +2:00 4:43 am 8:29 pm 5:14 am 7:58 pm 5:44 am 7:28 pm 12:35 pm (64.9°) 93.158
12 6:08 am t (79°) 7:03 pm t (281°) 12:55:07 +2:00 4:41 am 8:29 pm 5:12 am 7:58 pm 5:42 am 7:28 pm 12:35 pm (65.3°) 93.184
13 6:06 am t (79°) 7:04 pm t (282°) 12:57:07 +1:59 4:40 am 8:30 pm 5:11 am 7:59 pm 5:41 am 7:29 pm 12:35 pm (65.7°) 93.210
14 6:05 am t (78°) 7:04 pm t (282°) 12:59:06 +1:59 4:38 am 8:31 pm 5:10 am 8:00 pm 5:40 am 7:30 pm 12:34 pm (66.0°) 93.237
15 6:04 am t (78°) 7:05 pm t (283°) 13:01:05 +1:58 4:37 am 8:32 pm 5:08 am 8:01 pm 5:38 am 7:31 pm 12:34 pm (66.4°) 93.263
16 6:03 am t (77°) 7:06 pm t (283°) 13:03:03 +1:58 4:35 am 8:33 pm 5:07 am 8:02 pm 5:37 am 7:31 pm 12:34 pm (66.7°) 93.290
17 6:02 am t (77°) 7:07 pm t (283°) 13:05:01 +1:57 4:34 am 8:34 pm 5:05 am 8:03 pm 5:36 am 7:32 pm 12:34 pm (67.1°) 93.316
18 6:00 am t (76°) 7:07 pm t (284°) 13:06:58 +1:56 4:33 am 8:35 pm 5:04 am 8:04 pm 5:35 am 7:33 pm 12:34 pm (67.4°) 93.343
19 5:59 am t (76°) 7:08 pm t (284°) 13:08:54 +1:56 4:31 am 8:36 pm 5:03 am 8:05 pm 5:33 am 7:34 pm 12:33 pm (67.8°) 93.369
20 5:58 am t (76°) 7:09 pm t (285°) 13:10:50 +1:55 4:30 am 8:37 pm 5:01 am 8:05 pm 5:32 am 7:35 pm 12:33 pm (68.1°) 93.395
21 5:57 am t (75°) 7:10 pm t (285°) 13:12:44 +1:54 4:28 am 8:38 pm 5:00 am 8:06 pm 5:31 am 7:36 pm 12:33 pm (68.5°) 93.421
22 5:56 am t (75°) 7:10 pm t (286°) 13:14:39 +1:54 4:27 am 8:39 pm 4:59 am 8:07 pm 5:30 am 7:36 pm 12:33 pm (68.8°) 93.447
23 5:55 am t (74°) 7:11 pm t (286°) 13:16:32 +1:53 4:25 am 8:41 pm 4:58 am 8:08 pm 5:29 am 7:37 pm 12:33 pm (69.1°) 93.472
24 5:53 am t (74°) 7:12 pm t (286°) 13:18:25 +1:52 4:24 am 8:42 pm 4:56 am 8:09 pm 5:27 am 7:38 pm 12:32 pm (69.5°) 93.498
25 5:52 am t (74°) 7:13 pm t (287°) 13:20:17 +1:52 4:23 am 8:43 pm 4:55 am 8:10 pm 5:26 am 7:39 pm 12:32 pm (69.8°) 93.523
26 5:51 am t (73°) 7:13 pm t (287°) 13:22:08 +1:51 4:21 am 8:44 pm 4:54 am 8:11 pm 5:25 am 7:40 pm 12:32 pm (70.1°) 93.547
27 5:50 am t (73°) 7:14 pm t (287°) 13:23:58 +1:50 4:20 am 8:45 pm 4:53 am 8:12 pm 5:24 am 7:40 pm 12:32 pm (70.4°) 93.572
28 5:49 am t (72°) 7:15 pm t (288°) 13:25:48 +1:49 4:19 am 8:46 pm 4:51 am 8:13 pm 5:23 am 7:41 pm 12:32 pm (70.8°) 93.596
29 5:48 am t (72°) 7:16 pm t (288°) 13:27:36 +1:48 4:17 am 8:47 pm 4:50 am 8:14 pm 5:22 am 7:42 pm 12:32 pm (71.1°) 93.619
30 5:47 am t (72°) 7:16 pm t (289°) 13:29:23 +1:47 4:16 am 8:48 pm 4:49 am 8:15 pm 5:21 am 7:43 pm 12:31 pm (71.4°) 93.643

* All times are local time for Damascus. Time is adjusted for DST when applicable. Dates are based on the Gregorian calendar. Today is highlighted.

Time Determined by Planetary Analysis

Sunrise ~ 6:25 AM

Sunset ~ 6:56 PM

Postscript: Here is the .pdf version, with the best layout:

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur__Analysis of the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at 7 AM on April 4_2017 in Khan Sheikhoun_Syrian_(April18,2017)_Optimized_

[Addendum to Original Assessment Report]

[Video Evidence of False Claims Made in the White House Intelligence Report]

Dear Larry:

ViewAsPDF2I am responding to your distribution of what I understand is a White House statement claiming intelligence findings about the nerve agent attack on April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. My understanding from your note is that this White House intelligence summary was released to you sometime on April 11, 2017.

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.

However, if one assumes, as does the White House, that the source of the sarin was from this location and that the location was not tampered with, the most plausible conclusion is that the sarin was dispensed by an improvised dispersal device made from a 122 mm section of rocket tube filled with sarin and capped on both sides.

The only undisputable facts stated in the White House report is the claim that a chemical attack using nerve agent occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria on that morning. Although the White House statement repeats this point in many places within its report, the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity.

The report instead repeats observations of physical effects suffered by victims that with very little doubt indicate nerve agent poisoning.

The only source the document cites as evidence that the attack was by the Syrian government is the crater it claims to have identified on a road in the North of Khan Shaykhun.

I have located this crater using Google Earth and there is absolutely no evidence that the crater was created by a munition designed to disperse sarin after it is dropped from an aircraft.

The Google Earth map shown in Figure 1 at the end of this text section shows the location of that crater on the road in the north of Khan Shaykhun, as described in the White House statement.

The data cited by the White House is more consistent with the possibility that the munition was placed on the ground rather than dropped from a plane. This conclusion assumes that the crater was not tampered with prior to the photographs. However, by referring to the munition in this crater, the White House is indicating that this is the erroneous source of the data it used to conclude that the munition came from a Syrian aircraft.

Analysis of the debris as shown in the photographs cited by the White House clearly indicates that the munition was almost certainly placed on the ground with an external detonating explosive on top of it that crushed the container so as to disperse the alleged load of sarin.

Since time appears to be of the essence here, I have put together the summary of the evidence I have that the White House report contains false and misleading conclusions in a series of figures that follow this discussion. Each of the figures has a description below it, but I will summarize these figures next and wait for further inquiries about the basis of the conclusions I am putting forward herein.

Figure 1 shows a Google Earth image of the northeast corner of Khan Shaykhun where the crater identified as the source of the sarin attack and referred to in the White House intelligence report is located.

Also shown in the Google Earth image is the direction of the wind from the crater. At 3 AM the wind was going directly to the south at a speed of roughly 1.5 to 2.5 m/s. By 6 AM the wind was moving to the southeast at 1 to 2 m/s. The temperature was also low, 50 to 55°F near the ground. These conditions are absolutely ideal for a nerve agent attack.

When the temperature near the ground is low, and there is no sun and very slow winds, the dense cool air stays close to the ground and there is almost no upward motion of the air. This condition causes any particles, droplets, or clouds of dispersed gas to stay close to the ground as the surrounding air moves over the ground. We perceive this motion as a gentle breeze on a calm morning before sunrise.

One can think of a cloud of sarin as much like a cloud of ink generated by an escaping octopus. The ink cloud sits in the water and as the water slowly moves, so does the cloud. As the cloud is moved along by the water, it will slowly spread in all directions as it moves. If the layer of water where the ink is embedded moves so as to stay close to the ocean floor, the cloud will cover objects as it moves with the water.

This is the situation that occurs on a cool night before sunrise when the winds move only gently.

Figures 5 and 6 show tables that summarize the weather at 3 hour intervals in Khan Shaykun on the day of the attack, April 4, the day before the attack, April 3, and the day after the attack, April 5. The striking feature of the weather is that there were relatively high winds in the morning hours on both April 3 and April 5. If the gas attack were executed either the day before or the day after in the early morning, the attack would have been highly ineffective. The much higher winds would have dispersed the cloud of nerve agent and the mixing of winds from higher altitudes would have caused the nerve agent to be carried aloft from the ground. It is therefore absolutely clear that the time and day of the attack was carefully chosen and was no accident.

Figure 2 shows a high quality photograph of the crater identified in the White House report as the source of the sarin attack. Assuming that there was no tampering of evidence at the crater, one can see what the White House is claiming as a dispenser of the nerve agent.

The dispenser looks like a 122 mm pipe like that used in the manufacture of artillery rockets.

As shown in the close-up of the pipe in the crater in Figure 3, the pipe looks like it was originally sealed at the front end and the back end. Also of note is that the pipe is flattened into the crater, and also has a fractured seam that was created by the brittle failure of the metal skin when the pipe was suddenly crushed inward from above.

Figure 4 shows the possible configuration of an improvised sarin dispersal device that could have been used to create the crater and the crushed carcass of what was originally a cylindrical pipe. A good guess of how this dispersal mechanism worked (again, assuming that the crater and carcass were not staged, as assumed in the White House report) was that a slab of high explosive was placed over one end of the sarin-filled pipe and detonated.

The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallet. It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater. Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end. This mechanism of dispersal is essentially the same as hitting a toothpaste tube with a large mallet, which then results in the tube failing and the toothpaste being blown in many directions depending on the exact way the toothpaste skin ruptures.

If this is in fact the mechanism used to disperse the sarin, this indicates that the sarin tube was placed on the ground by individuals on the ground and not dropped from an airplane.

Figure 8 shows the improvised sarin dispenser along with a typical 122 mm artillery rocket and the modified artillery rocket used in the sarin attack of August 21, 2013 in Damascus.

At that time (August 30, 2013) the Obama White House also issued an intelligence report containing obvious inaccuracies. For example, that report stated without equivocation that the sarin carrying artillery rocket used in Damascus had been fired from Syrian government controlled areas. As it turned out, the particular munition used in that attack could not go further than roughly 2 km, very far short of any boundary controlled by the Syrian government at that time. The White House report at that time also contained other critical and important errors that might properly be described as amateurish. For example, the report claimed that the locations of the launch and impact of points of the artillery rockets were observed by US satellites. This claim was absolutely false and any competent intelligence analyst would have known that. The rockets could be seen from the Space-Based Infrared Satellite (SBIRS) but the satellite could absolutely not see the impact locations because the impact locations were not accompanied by explosions. These errors were clear indicators that the White House intelligence report had in part been fabricated and had not been vetted by competent intelligence experts.

This same situation appears to be the case with the current White House intelligence report. No competent analyst would assume that the crater cited as the source of the sarin attack was unambiguously an indication that the munition came from an aircraft. No competent analyst would assume that the photograph of the carcass of the sarin canister was in fact a sarin canister. Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real. No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it. All of these highly amateurish mistakes indicate that this White House report, like the earlier Obama White House Report, was not properly vetted by the intelligence community as claimed.

I have worked with the intelligence community in the past, and I have grave concerns about the politicization of intelligence that seems to be occurring with more frequency in recent times – but I know that the intelligence community has highly capable analysts in it. And if those analysts were properly consulted about the claims in the White House document they would have not approved the document going forward.

I am available to expand on these comments substantially. I have only had a few hours to quickly review the alleged White House intelligence report. But a quick perusal shows without a lot of analysis that this report cannot be correct, and it also appears that this report was not properly vetted by the intelligence community.

This is a very serious matter.

President Obama was initially misinformed about supposed intelligence evidence that Syria was the perpetrator of the August 21, 2013 nerve agent attack in Damascus. This is a matter of public record. President Obama stated that his initially false understanding was that the intelligence clearly showed that Syria was the source of the nerve agent attack. This false information was corrected when the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, interrupted the President while he was in an intelligence briefing. According to President Obama, Mr. Clapper told the President that the intelligence that Syria was the perpetrator of the attack was “not a slamdunk.”

The question that needs to be answered by our nation is how was the president initially misled about such a profoundly important intelligence finding? A second equally important question is how did the White House produce an intelligence report that was obviously flawed and amateurish that was then released to the public and never corrected? The same false information in the intelligence report issued by the White House on August 30, 2013 was emphatically provided by Secretary of State John Kerry in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee!

We again have a situation where the White House has issued an obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report.

The Congress and the public have been given reports in the name of the intelligence community about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, technical evidence supposedly collected by satellite systems that any competent scientists would know is false, and now from photographs of the crater that any analyst who has any competent at all would not trust as evidence.

It is late in the evening for me, so I will end my discussion here.

I stand ready to provide the country with any analysis and help that is within my power to supply. What I can say for sure herein is that what the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security.

Sincerely yours,

Theodore A. Postol

Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Email: postol@mit.edu
Cell Phone: 617 543-7646

 

Figures and Diagrams

Direction of lethal Plume on April 4, 2017 between 3 and 6 AM on April 4, 2017 assuming the munition crater identified by the White House report is actually a sarin dispersal site.
Direction of lethal Plume on April 4, 2017 between 3 and 6 AM on April 4, 2017 assuming the munition crater identified by the White House report is actually a sarin dispersal site.
Figure 1

 

Close up photograph of the crater that has been shown in numerous mainstream media publications that the White House alleges is proof that the source of the nerve agent attack was the Syrian government.
Close up photograph of the crater that has been shown in numerous mainstream media publications that the White House alleges is proof that the source of the nerve agent attack was the Syrian government.
Figure 2

 

Deformation of sarin containing pipe and crater from the action of the explosive charge placed on top of the sarin containing pipe. Note that pipe has been flattened from the outside and has failed along its length and at the far end due to the action of the incompressible sarin fluid against the pipe walls.
Deformation of sarin containing pipe and crater from the action of the explosive charge placed on top of the sarin containing pipe. Note that pipe has been flattened from the outside and has failed along its length and at the far end due to the action of the incompressible sarin fluid against the pipe walls.
Figure 3

 

Possible configuration of an improvised sarin dispersal device that uses an externally placed explosive and a sealed pipe that has been filled with sarin that could potentially contain 8 to 10 L of sarin.
Possible configuration of an improvised sarin dispersal device that uses an externally placed explosive and a sealed pipe that has been filled with sarin that could potentially contain 8 to 10 L of sarin.
Figure 4

 

The weather at the time of the attack was ideal for the most lethal spread of the nerve agent. The ground was cool and there was a high density layer of air near the ground that would carry the nerve agent close to the ground as it drifted towards its victims. The wind speed was also very low, which resulted in the sarin taking a long time to pass over its victims, resulting in long exposures that made it more likely that victims would get a lethal dose.
The weather at the time of the attack was ideal for the most lethal spread of the nerve agent. The ground was cool and there was a high density layer of air near the ground that would carry the nerve agent close to the ground as it drifted towards its victims. The wind speed was also very low, which resulted in the sarin taking a long time to pass over its victims, resulting in long exposures that made it more likely that victims would get a lethal dose.
Figure 5

 

The weather on the day before the attack, Monday April 3, and on the day after the attack, Wednesday April 5, had very poor weather for an effective nerve agent attack. The winds were high and gusty on both days, which would have resulted in the sarin being carried away from the ground and quickly over any possible victims, causing a very limited time for them to get a dose that would be lethal.
The weather on the day before the attack, Monday April 3, and on the day after the attack, Wednesday April 5, had very poor weather for an effective nerve agent attack. The winds were high and gusty on both days, which would have resulted in the sarin being carried away from the ground and quickly over any possible victims, causing a very limited time for them to get a dose that would be lethal.
Figure 6

 

How the sarin is dispersed by the wind: the graph above shows a rough estimate of how a cloud of sarin droplets might disperse under weather conditions similar to that in the early morning on April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun. As the sarin is carried by the ambient winds, it tends to rise and spread somewhat due to the slight turbulence of the air. Note that the cloud might not disperse much for ranges of thousands of meters downwind. The cross range and vertical dispersion is determined not only by the weather conditions but also by the ground, which if rough could increase the dispersion and if flat and smooth could reduce the dispersion.
How the sarin is dispersed by the wind: the graph above shows a rough estimate of how a cloud of sarin droplets might disperse under weather conditions similar to that in the early morning on April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun. As the sarin is carried by the ambient winds, it tends to rise and spread somewhat due to the slight turbulence of the air. Note that the cloud might not disperse much for ranges of thousands of meters downwind. The cross range and vertical dispersion is determined not only by the weather conditions but also by the ground, which if rough could increase the dispersion and if flat and smooth could reduce the dispersion.
Figure 7

 

The ground-placed improvised sarin dispersal device is shown next to a standard 122 mm artillery rocket and the modified rocket that was used for delivering sarin in the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013. Unlike the modified artillery rockets used in the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Damascus, this particular improvised dispersal device is simply a section of pipe from a 122 mm rocket or for the manufacture of 122 mm rockets that could have been filled with sarin. The explosive placed on top of the pipe would cause it to be suddenly crushed up like a tube of toothpaste hit by a mallet. Just as the toothpaste would be sprayed out from the toothpaste tube, so with the sarin be sprayed from the metal tube.
The ground-placed improvised sarin dispersal device is shown next to a standard 122 mm artillery rocket and the modified rocket that was used for delivering sarin in the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013. Unlike the modified artillery rockets used in the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Damascus, this particular improvised dispersal device is simply a section of pipe from a 122 mm rocket or for the manufacture of 122 mm rockets that could have been filled with sarin. The explosive placed on top of the pipe would cause it to be suddenly crushed up like a tube of toothpaste hit by a mallet. Just as the toothpaste would be sprayed out from the toothpaste tube, so with the sarin be sprayed from the metal tube.
Figure 8

 

Rough estimate of possible sarin densities and times to lethal exposure from the improvised sarin dispersal device described in the White House report and exploded on the road in Khan Shaykhun.
Rough estimate of possible sarin densities and times to lethal exposure from the improvised sarin dispersal device described in the White House report and exploded on the road in Khan Shaykhun.
Figure 8

 

Addendum to Original Assessment Report

ViewAsPDF2This addendum is a follow-up to the report A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 about the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. The full “Quick Turnaround” was written on the evening of April 11 after a quick review of the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on the same day.

This addendum provides data that unambiguously shows that the assumption in the WHR that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct. This egregious error raises questions about every other claim in the WHR.

As noted in the main body of my earlier report, the assumption in WHR that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with was totally unjustified and no competent intelligence analyst would have agreed that this assumption was valid. The implication of this observation is clear – the WHR was not reviewed and released by any competent intelligence expert unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report.

The WHR also makes claims about “communications intercepts” which supposedly provide high confidence that the Syrian government was the source of the attack. There is no reason to believe that the veracity of this claim is any different from the now verified false claim that there was unambiguous evidence of a sarin release at the cited crater.

The White House intelligence report states that:

The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin.

It also contains additional assertions that were key elements for underpinning its claim of a high confidence assessment:

We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting, that tells a clear and consistent story.

An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun [Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.

… observed munition remnants at the crater and staining around the impact point are consistent with a munition that functioned.

Last November, for instance, senior Russian officials used an image from a widely publicized regime chemical weapons attack in 2013 on social media platforms to publicly allege chemical weapons use by the opposition.

The evidence that unambiguously shows that the assumption that the sarin release crater was tampered with is contained in six photographs at the end of this document.

Figure A-1 shows a man standing in the alleged sarin-release crater. He is wearing a honeycomb facemask that is designed to filter small particles from the air. Other apparel on him is an open necked cloth shirt and what appear to be medical exam gloves.

Two other men are standing in front of him (on the left in the photograph) also wearing honeycomb facemask’s and medical exam gloves.

If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin.

The fact that these people were dressed so inadequately either suggests a complete ignorance of the basic measures needed to protect an individual from sarin poisoning, or that they knew that the site was not seriously contaminated.

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

Figure A-2 shows the location of the crater on a Google Earth map of the Northeast part of Khan Sheikun. The white arrow labeled camera direction indicates the bore site of the camera when the photograph was taken. The white dot connected to a line shows the approximate location of the camera when the photo was taken. The direction the camera is looking is North Northeast.

Figure A-3 shows a photograph of the same street and crater when it is unoccupied by people. This photograph is taken from a slightly greater distance away from the crater but the bore site of the camera is in the same direction – North Northeast.

Figure A-4 shows the crater, probably shortly after the tampering occurred that is documented in Figure A-1.

The camera bore site is downward into the crater and its azimuth is roughly East Northeast. Note that the surgical gloves that can be seen on the ground behind the man in the crater in Figure A-1 can be seen almost unmoved in the photograph shown in Figure A-4. This strongly suggests that the photograph was taken a relatively short time after the tampering occurred.

Figure A-5 shows the crater at a time that may have been before the tampering occurred. The bottom of the crater looks rather different and the piece of pipe, which is clearly lying on top of the bottom of the crater in Figure A-4, now appears to be partially buried. The photograph in Figure A-5 is taken with the bore site of the camera looking roughly west.

Figure A-6 shows a photograph of the crater, probably taken at about the same time as the photo in Figure A-5, with the azimuth of the bore site of the camera looking Southwest.

Summary and Conclusions from the Data

We repeat here a quote from the WHR:

An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun [Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.

The data provided in these photographs make it clear that the WHR made no serious attempt to collect data that would support its “confident assessment” that there was data to unambiguously support a conclusion that the Syrian government executed a sarin attack as indicated by the location and characteristics of the crater. This does not appear to be a mistake.

It is hard for me to believe that anybody competent could have been involved in producing the WHR report and the implications of such an obviously predetermined result strongly suggests that this report was not motivated by a serious analysis of any kind.

This finding is disturbing. It indicates that the WHR was probably a report purely aimed at justifying actions that were not supported by any legitimate intelligence.

This is not a unique situation. President George W. Bush has argued that he was misinformed about unambiguous evidence that Iraq was hiding a substantial amount of weapons of mass destruction. This false intelligence led to a US attack on Iraq that started a process that ultimately led to a political disintegration in the Middle East, which through a series of unpredicted events then led to the rise of the Islamic State. On August 30, 2013, the White House produced a similarly false report about the nerve agent attack on August 21, 2013 in Damascus. This report also contained numerous intelligence claims that could not be true. An interview with President Obama published in The Atlantic in April 2016 indicates that Obama was initially told that there was solid intelligence that the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2013 in Ghouta, Syria. Obama reported that he was later told that the intelligence was not solid by the then Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Equally serious questions are raised about the abuse of intelligence findings by the incident in 2013. Questions that have not been answered about that incident is how the White House produced a false intelligence report with false claims that could obviously be identified by experts outside the White House and without access to classified information. There also needs to be an explanation of why this 2013 false report was not corrected. Secretary of State John Kerry emphatically testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee repeating information in this so-called un-equivocating report.

On August 30, 2013 Secretary of State Kerry made the following statement from the Treaty Room in the State Department:

Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack [Emphasis added], and I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves.

It is now obvious that a second incident similar to what happened in the Obama administration has now occurred in the Trump administration.

In this case, the president, supported by his staff, made a decision to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. This action was accompanied by serious risks of creating a confrontation with Russia, and also undermining cooperative efforts to win the war against the Islamic State.

Prior to these two inexplicable false intelligence reports, we had the incident in the Bush administration that led us to make decisions that we are still trying to deal with today.

I therefore conclude that there needs to be a comprehensive investigation of these events that have either misled people in the White House White House, or worse yet, been perpetrated by people seeking to force decisions that were not justified by the cited intelligence.

This is a serious matter and should not be allowed to continue.

Figures and Diagrams

Figure A-1

 

Figure A-2

 

Figure A-3

 

Figure A-4

 

Figure A-5

 

Figure A-6


_

Appendix: Quotes from the White House Report

The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin

We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting, that tells a clear and consistent story.

We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in northern Hamah Province that threatened key infrastructure. Senior regime military leaders were probably involved in planning the attack.

Shaykhun at 6:55 AM local time on April 4

Our information indicates that the chemical agent was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft our information indicates personnel historically associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program were at Shayrat Airfield in late March making preparations for an upcoming attack in Northern Syria, and they were present at the airfield on the day of the attack.

Hours after the April 4 attack, there were hundreds of accounts of victims presenting symptoms consistent with sarin exposure,

Commercial satellite imagery from April 6 showed impact craters around the hospital that are consistent with open source reports of a conventional attack on the hospital after the chemical attack. An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.

observed munition remnants at the crater and staining around the impact point are consistent with a munition that functioned

Last November, for instance, senior Russian officials used an image from a widely publicized regime chemical weapons attack in 2013 on social media platforms to publicly allege chemical weapons use by the opposition.

We must remember that the Assad regime failed to adhere to its international obligations after its devastating attacks on Damascus suburbs using the nerve agent sarin in August 2013, which resulted in more than one thousand civilian fatalities, many of whom were children. The regime agreed at that time to fully dismantle its chemical weapons program, but this most recent attack

 

Appendix: White House Intelligence Report Provided to Me on April 11, 2017

The Assad Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons on April 4, 2017

The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib Province on April 4, 2017. According to observers at the scene, the attack resulted in at least 50 and up to 100 fatalities (including many children), with hundreds of additional injuries.

We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting, that tells a clear and consistent story. We cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods, but the following includes an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of this attack.

Summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Assessment of the April 4 Attack

The Syrian regime maintains the capability and intent to use chemical weapons against the opposition to prevent the loss of territory deemed critical to its survival. We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in northern Hamah Province that threatened key infrastructure. Senior regime military leaders were probably involved in planning the attack.

A significant body of pro-opposition social media reports indicate that the chemical attack began in Khan Shaykhun at 6:55 AM local time on April 4.

Our information indicates that the chemical agent was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that took off from the regime-controlled Shayrat Airfield. These aircraft were in the vicinity of Khan Shaykhun approximately 20 minutes before reports of the chemical attack began and vacated the area shortly after the attack. Additionally, our information indicates personnel historically associated with Syria’s chemical weapons program were at Shayrat Airfield in late March making preparations for an upcoming attack in Northern Syria, and they were present at the airfield on the day of the attack.

Hours after the April 4 attack, there were hundreds of accounts of victims presenting symptoms consistent with sarin exposure, such as frothing at the nose and mouth, twitching, and pinpoint pupils. This constellation of symptoms is inconsistent with exposure to a respiratory irritant like chlorine— which the regime has also used in attacks—and is extremely unlikely to have resulted from a conventional attack because of the number of victims in the videos and the absence of other visible injuries. Open source accounts posted following the attack reported that first responders also had difficulty breathing, and that some lost consciousness after coming into contact with the victims— consistent with secondary exposure to nerve agent.

By 12:15 PM local time, broadcasted local videos included images of dead children of varying ages. Accounts of a hospital being bombed began to emerge at 1:10 PM local, with follow-on videos showing the bombing of a nearby hospital that had been flooded with victims of the sarin attack. Commercial satellite imagery from April 6 showed impact craters around the hospital that are consistent with open source reports of a conventional attack on the hospital after the chemical attack. Later on April 4, local physicians posted videos specifically pointing out constricted pupils (a telltale symptom of nerve agent exposure), medical staff with body suits on, and treatments involving atropine, which is an antidote for nerve agents such as sarin

We are certain that the opposition could not have fabricated all of the videos and other reporting of chemical attacks. Doing so would have required a highly organized campaign to deceive multiple media outlets and human rights organizations while evading detection. In addition, we have independently confirmed that some of the videos were shot at the approximate times and locations described in the footage.

Further, the World Health Organization stated on April 5 that its analysis of the victims of the attack in Syria showed they had been exposed to nerve agents, citing the absence of external injuries and deaths due to suffocation. Doctors without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres; MSF) said that medical teams treating affected patients found symptoms to be consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin. And Amnesty International said evidence pointed to an air-launched chemical attack. Subsequent laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims detected signatures of the nerve agent sarin.

Refuting the False Narratives

The Syrian regime and its primary backer, Russia, have sought to confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks. Initially, Moscow dismissed the allegations of a chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, claiming the attack was a “prank of a provocative nature” and that all evidence was fabricated. It is clear, however, that the Syrian opposition could not manufacture this quantity and variety of videos and other reporting from both the attack site and medical facilities in Syria and Turkey while deceiving both media observers and intelligence agencies.

Moscow has since claimed that the release of chemicals was caused by a regime airstrike on a terrorist ammunition depot in the eastern suburbs of Khan Shaykhun. However, a Syrian military source told Russian state media on April 4 that regime forces had not carried out any airstrike in Khan Shaykhun, contradicting Russia’s claim. An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.

Moscow has suggested that terrorists had been using the alleged ammunition depot to produce and store shells containing toxic gas that they then used in Iraq, adding that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants. While it is widely accepted that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has repeatedly used sulfur mustard on the battlefield, there are no indications that ISIS was responsible for this incident or that the attack involved chemicals in ISIS’s possession.

Moscow suggested this airstrike occurred between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM local time on April 4, disregarding that allegations first appeared on social media close to 7:00 AM local time that morning, when we know regime aircraft were operating over Khan Shaykhun. In addition, observed munition remnants at the crater and staining around the impact point are consistent with a munition that functioned, but structures nearest to the impact crater did not sustain damage that would be expected from a conventional high-explosive payload. Instead, the damage is more consistent with a chemical munition.

The Syrian regime has used other chemical agents in attacks against civilians in opposition held areas in the past, including the use of sulfur mustard in Aleppo in late 2016. Russia has alleged that video footage from April 4 indicated that victims from this attack showed the same symptoms of poisoning as victims in Aleppo last fall, implying that something other than a nerve agent was used in Khan Shaykhun. However, victims of the attack on April 4 displayed tell-tale symptoms of nerve agent exposure, including pinpoint pupils, foaming at the nose and mouth, and twitching, all of which are inconsistent with exposure to sulfur mustard.

Russia’s allegations fit with a pattern of deflecting blame from the regime and attempting to undermine the credibility of its opponents. Russia and Syria, in multiple instances since mid- 2016, have blamed the opposition for chemical use in attacks. Yet similar to the Russian narrative for the attack on Khan Shaykhun, most Russian allegations have lacked specific or credible information. Last November, for instance, senior Russian officials used an image from a widely publicized regime chemical weapons attack in 2013 on social media platforms to publicly allege chemical weapons use by the opposition. In May 2016, Russian officials made a similar claim using an image from a video game. In October 2016, Moscow also claimed terrorists used chlorine and white phosphorus in Aleppo, even though pro-Russian media footage from the attack site showed no sign of chlorine use. In fact, our Intelligence from the same day suggests that neither of Russia’s accounts was accurate and that the regime may have mistakenly used chlorine on its own forces. Russia’s contradictory and erroneous reports appear to have been intended to confuse the situation and to obfuscate on behalf of the regime.

Moscow’s allegations typically have been timed to distract the international community from Syria’s ongoing use of chemical weapons—such as the claims earlier this week—or to counter the findings from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations (UN) Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which confirmed in August and October 2016 reports that the Syrian regime has continued to use chemical weapons on multiple occasions long after it committed to relinquish its arsenal in 2013. Russia has also questioned the impartial findings of the JIM—a body that Russia helped to establish—and was even willing to go so far as to suggest that the Assad regime should investigate itself for the use of chemical weapons.

Moscow’s response to the April 4 attack follows a familiar pattern of its responses to other egregious actions; it spins out multiple, conflicting accounts in order to create confusion and sow doubt within the international community.

International Condemnation and a Time for Action

The Assad regime’s brutal use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and poses a clear threat to the national security interests of the United States and the international community. Use of weapons of mass destruction by any actor lowers the threshold for others that may seek to follow suit and raises the possibility that they may be used against the United States, our allies or partners, or any other nation around the world.

The United States calls on the world community in the strongest possible terms to stand with us in making an unambiguous statement that this behavior will not be tolerated. This is a critical moment— we must demonstrate that subterfuge and false facts hold no weight, that excuses by those shielding their allies are making the world a more dangerous place, and that the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons will not be permitted to continue. We must remember that the Assad regime failed to adhere to its international obligations after its devastating attacks on Damascus suburbs using the nerve agent sarin in August 2013, which resulted in more than one thousand civilian fatalities, many of whom were children. The regime agreed at that time to fully dismantle its chemical weapons program, but this most recent attack—like others before it—are proof that it has not done so. To be clear, Syria has violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the UN Charter, and no drumbeat of nonsensical claims by the regime or its allies can hide this truth. And while it is an embarrassment that Russia has vetoed multiple UN Security Council resolutions that could have helped rectify the situation, the United States intends to send a clear message now that we and our partners will not allow the world to become a more dangerous place due to the egregious acts of the Assad regime.

 

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