Please support the Emptywheel fundraiser.
I still don’t quite know what the angle is for this particular obfuscation, but given the efforts first from Obama himself and now from the CIA, both with planted leaks, the Obama administration is continuing its efforts to hide the date on which CIA-trained death squads first began entering Syria. From my first post on this topic, beginning with a quote from the New York Times:
Officials said that in the same conversation, which included Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, Mr. Obama indicated that a covert effort by the United States to arm and train Syrian rebels was beginning to yield results: the first 50-man cell of fighters, who have been trained by the C.I.A., was beginning to sneak into Syria.
Taken at face value, this version of the story would have us believe that the first group of 50 trained by the CIA was presumably still in the process of “sneaking” into Syria on Monday.
The “Monday” in that context would be September 2. The post goes on to note that rather than September 2, after the disputed August 21 chemical weapon attack, French sources had actually documented that the first group of CIA-trained and armed fighters was as large as 300 (not 50) and entered Syria on August 17, well ahead of the release of chemical agents.
And yes, go back and parse that bit from the New York Times carefully, especially this: “covert effort by the United States to arm and train Syrian rebels”. We aren’t just training these death squads, we are arming them, too. That is what makes last night’s “revelation” in the Washington Post even more important to look at:
The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.
Any doubts that this was a planned and sanctioned leak were wiped away within an hour of the Post putting up this story when Barbara Starr “confirmed” the report on Twitter. But we know from my first post on the topic that the death squads really started rolling into Syria on August 17. If we back up “two weeks” from last night’s report on September 11, we get only to August 28. This is a full week after the disputed chemical weapon attack and much closer to the September 2 date on which Obama leaked that the death squads were then in the process of beginning their entry into Syria.
The timing for the flow of arms to these groups is another way we can pinpoint when they became enmeshed in activities inside Syria. With yesterday’s leak on when the flow of arms began, we have once again seen the US try to shift the date for involvement of the death squads inside Syria from before the chemical weapons attack to after it.
Two completely unnecessary but very public leaks, one from Obama himself and the other from “U.S. officials and Syrian figures” have done their utmost to change the public record on when the CIA-trained groups first entered Syria. Why is it so important to the Obama administration to obscure the entry date?