Cruise Killing on the Passive Voice

Before I lay out the chronology of the road to war against Syria, check out the language National Security Advisor Susan Rice used to blow off the UN investigation.

Ms. Rice sent the email to Ms. Power and others, officials said. “The investigation is…too late, and will actually tell us what we already know: CW was used,”

While the WSJ quotes Rice claiming to know who actually used the chemical weapons in the next line, ultimately it comes down to this:

“CW was used.”

Jay Carney today also used the passive voice in dismissing the UN investigation.

So the work of that team is redundant, you might say, because it is clearly established already that chemical weapons have been used on a significant scale.

The fucking passive voice.

But before we got to that point consider what happened. First (according to WSJ’s Arab diplomats) the always trustworthy Israelis caught someone moving CW into place.

One crucial piece of the emerging case came from Israeli spy services, which provided the Central Intelligence Agency with intelligence from inside an elite special Syrian unit that oversees Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons, Arab diplomats said. The intelligence, which the CIA was able to verify, showed that certain types of chemical weapons were moved in advance to the same Damascus suburbs where the attack allegedly took place a week ago, Arab diplomats said.

Then after the attack, according to Foreign Policy, US spooks overheard a Syrian Defense official “demanding answers” from an officer in the chemical weapons unit from which the CW would have been used.

Last Monday [sic], in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned.

FP goes on to point out a lot of the important things we don’t know, such as why and on whose authority, even while laying out the case that CW was used. (Though here are some doubts about whether it was really sarin.)

Meanwhile, according to Gareth Porter, it took until Saturday for the UN to request access to the attack site. Syria granted that access Sunday. At which point John Kerry attempted to personally intervene to stop the investigation.

After the deal was announced on Sunday, however, Kerry pushed Ban in a phone call to call off the investigation completely.

The Wall Street Journal reported the pressure on Ban without mentioning Kerry by name. It said unnamed “U.S. officials” had told the secretary-general that it was “no longer safe for the inspectors to remain in Syria and that their mission was pointless.”

But Ban, who has generally been regarded as a pliable instrument of U.S. policy, refused to withdraw the U.N. team and instead “stood firm on principle”, the Journal reported. He was said to have ordered the U.N. inspectors to “continue their work”.

Meanwhile, the Administration also seems to be delaying the release of its own intelligence report, after promising it would already be out.

Q And there’s a lot of speculation that this intelligence report that presumably would link Assad directly to the chemical weapons attack might be released today. Can you give us an update on the timing?

MR. CARNEY: What I would say is that yesterday I made clear that the intelligence community is working on an assessment and that once we had that assessment we would provide information to the public about it in the coming days. And that remains true. I think that that’s speculation that it would come today rather than some other day. But it will come and I think you can expect it this week.

Do you get the feeling there are some holes in the intelligence report? Such as, if this was ordered by someone in Assad’s chain of command, why a Defense Ministry official would be making “panicked calls” about the strike?

There’s one more thing I find at least interesting about the intelligence.

Recall back in December, when the CW scares first started. We had evidence — as the Israelis claim we have no — of Syria pre-positioning weapons. And then Syria lost its Toobz access. I noted at the time that the utter lack of panic about the latter event suggested that we knew precisely why and how the Toobz came down. That detail may mean nothing about today’s events (though at the time it suggested that the source of the intelligence wasn’t SIGINT, because if the US had just lost its intelligence access it would have been panicking). But it seems notable, given the centrality of the “moving chemicals” intelligence again.

There is, to be sure, a great deal of evidence that (as both Rice and Carney said) “CW were used.”

But the Administration seems increasingly squirrelly allowing time to discover the rest of the occasion, which may be why a Syrian officer release CW without having had received an order from his superiors.

23 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Don’t suppose an officer may have had “encouragement” to create a pretext from either us or Israel?
    Our neocon crusade to destabilize Syria stinks.

  2. orionATL says:

    oh, just think of it as an unsigned signature strike.

    by u.s. via nsa?

    by israel or saudis?

    by the u.k. thru their mideast spying capability?

    by syrian this or that side?

  3. orionATL says:

    and to add to insult, there’s the nytimes being shut down -twice – by cyber warfare conducted by the syrianese liberation army.

    and that just as nytimes takes on the task from the guardian of reporting on nsa/gchq spying skullduggery.

    amazing coincidences, but then tidal waves do happen.

  4. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    @orionATL: Greenwald’s latest assures us that there are imminent releases but I think Poitras via Der Spiegel may have the most secure channel. We’ll have to wait and see if the UK and US continue to equate investigative journalism with terrorism but I am certain there are many papers that would love to steal the limelight (and revenue) these stories will generate so there will be no plugging the leak.

  5. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Sic Semper Tyrannis has had some mighty interesting posts and comments.
    It appears entirely possible that Bandar and the Israeli’s are once again playing the US for fools, with McCain and his ilk reliably playing straight into their hands, per usual.

    But note the list of Obama’s key advisors mentioned in the SST link: Axelrod, [Susan] Rice, Valerie Jarrett. How their advice outweights Gen Dempsey’s or SecDef Hagel’s is quite the little nugget for future historians.


    So yes, I definitely have the feeling there are holes in the intel report. Hence, the rush to war.

  6. john francis lee says:

    Glenn Greenwald reminds of the days when the ‘progressives’ were begging Obama to lie to them … and he obliged …

    Barack Obama’s Q&A – 20 December 2007

    Charlie Savage

    In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?

    Barack Obama

    The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

    Of course that’s when Libya and Syria were not yet ‘in play’

    Surprise ! BO’b is a liar, a murderer, and a war criminal … just like George XLIII. But wait … he’s a Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, too !

    The only thing our USSA can do any more is lay waste to the earth. And Barack Obama is perfectly willing to do the job.

    They’ll never see it comin’. But we’ve all seen this coming, since well before 2 November 2012. He may be the Pied Piper, but we’re the rats.

    Impeach him. Then jail him. It’s the only recourse we have left.

  7. john francis lee says:

    There was a report in the Daily Mail on that in January

    U.S. ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad’s regime’

    Leaked emails from defense contractor refers to chemical weapons saying ‘the idea is approved by Washington’

    Obama issued warning to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that use of chemical warfare was ‘totally unacceptable’.

    The report has ‘understandably’ been removed from the Daily Mail site. Tha above link comes from … it seems to be reconstructed and takes a bit longer to load than ‘usual’. Give it a minute.

    Every knows exactly what’s going on here .. Kerry reprises Powell, Rice reprises Rice, and Obama reprises Bush XLIII.

    I guess we just love it so much we can’t get enough of it.

  8. Nigel says:

    @john francis lee:

    Reading the Daily Mail ‘report’, it’s quite clear that it was about a company, not the US government:

    We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.
    ‘We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.
    ‘They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.
    ‘Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?…

    So this particular allegation about US government ‘backing’ this scheme is heresay about heresay, evidenced by an alleged leaked email. Not exactly convincing.
    And the story may well have been deleted from the website owing to libel considerations.

    It’s entirely right to treat the pronouncements of the US government with extreme skepticism; but it’s only sensible to apply the same standard to random unsubstantiated allegations.

  9. emptywheel says:

    @lefty665: Well, there HAVE been a lot of defectors along the way. Clearly someone is recruiting those officers, and it’s not us bc we’re out in Jordan and not many of our spooks speak Arabic.

  10. Clark Hilldale says:

    The most hilarious thing I’ve seen in ages:

    “One crucial piece of the emerging case came from Israeli spy services, which provided the Central Intelligence Agency with intelligence from inside an elite special Syrian unit that oversees Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons…”

    That’s like opening your morning newspaper and reading that the DEA is receiving real-time intel from the girlfriend of your city’s most notorious drug dealer. (Only with much bigger stakes in the case of Syrian WMD.)

    Completely preposterous that a penetration of that nature would be bandied about in the press.

    I’m actually astonished that WSJ would imagine that anyone would take this seriously. Same goes for the other “evidence” we are being given by propagandist elements of the security state.

    When the US ends up not doing shit militarily to Syria, maybe people will get the idea that the whole thing has been a PSYOP against Assad.

  11. JohnT says:

    This story was disappeared (journalistic version of los desaparecidos)

    Leaked emails have allegedly proved that the White House gave the green light to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that could be blamed on Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country.

    A report released on Monday contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence where a scheme ‘approved by Washington’ is outlined explaining that Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons.

    Barack Obama made it clear to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that the U.S. would not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.


    wayback machine link

    Edit: oops didn’t click on john francis lee’s link

  12. Frank33 says:

    A Big Group Of Experts tells Obama what to do in Syria. These experts seem to be pressuring the President to take meaningful consequences, which includes big bombs and big casualties. The experts are from a wide political spectrum, Neo-cons to Annunaki, and they warn the President of the consequences if he fails to act. (Dallas, Nov. 1963).

    The President must stop the relentless aggression of Syria and Iran. Actually the letter is signed by relentless aggressors, who are always wrong. And many of these prominent war pimps must be members of the Secret Government.

    We have such brilliant experts as Iran-Contra criminal Elliott Abrams, comedian Gary Bauer, comedian Max Boot, war criminal Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, comedian Senator Norm Coleman, Dr Robert Kagan, Vickie Nuland’s husband and part of Team Petraeus, the third war Amigo Joe Lieberman, and KKKarl Rove.

  13. JohnT says:

    @Nigel: Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but the info wasn’t leaked, it was hacked

    What I find interesting, is that this is playing out pretty much as was predicted in that hacked info. What I also find interesting, is that the USG has a long history of false flag events to promote war against people who have disagreements with it’s multinational corps promoting policies. What’s also interesting is the neoliberal outsourcing of tasks formally carried out by gov agents are now carried out by contractors as insurance for plausible deniability in case certain actions turn out to be politically unpopular. And the compliant subservient media is also interesting to me

    You can go to Operation PBSuccess, or Operation Northwoods (the only reason it wasn’t carried out is because Kennedy had the backbone to veto it), or to the Gulf of Tonkin, or Operation Just Cause, or …

    The template has been set

  14. ofm says:

    I don’t know all the details, but don’t overlook the fact that The Daily Mail retracted the Britam story.

    An article on 29 January reported allegations on the internet that the US Government had backed a plot to launch a chemicals weapons attack in Syria and blame it on the Assad regime.

    The reports made reference to an email said to have been from David Goulding, the Business Development Director of Britam Defence, to company founder, Philip Doughty. The email had been published on the internet after Britam’s computer system was illegally hacked in Singapore. It referred to a proposal that Britam would deliver chemical weapons to Syria for enormous financial reward and suggested that the directors were willing to consider the illegal proposal.

    We now accept that email was fabricated and acknowledge there is no truth in any suggestion that Britam or its directors were willing to consider taking part in such a plot, which may have led to an atrocity.

    We apologise to each of them and have agreed to pay substantial damages.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @Lana Carson: Excellent point about the Daily Mail’s inherent lack of credibility. It would be like looking to the Washington Times for the latest credible opinions on gay marriage, disarmament and the excesses of the surveillance state.

  16. john francis lee says:

    So … attack the source rather the message ? Weak. The Daily Mail is not even the source in any case … Britam is.


    We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

    We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

    They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

    Kind regards


    That’s David Goulding, Britam Business Development Director, emailing Britam ‘founder and dynamic director, Philip Doughty’. It’s about Syria … again, Did the ‘enormous sums’ proposed win out ?

    ‘Kind regards’ … as he proposes to kill innocents using chemical weapons … just so he can frame Assad and start a real war. War profiteer slime these boys are.

    I suppose the US DoD/CIA/State have the cred the others lack ? Hell, they lie when they don’t have to, just to keep in practice.

    This was just a Qatari scheme … amateur hour. the CIA has done this stuff in house for decades.

    The Daily Mail might not be straight … whatever comes out of the USG in Washington DC is definitely not straight.

    MT Wheel’s entire column is testament to that last fact.

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