Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 21, 2015

How Criticism Of Hersh's New Piece Fails To Understand What Really Happened

The latest Seymour Hersh piece alleges that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) under General Dempsey undermined the official White House policy on Syria. Their impetus to do so came after a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis found in 2012 that there were hardly any "moderate rebels" in Syria but only Islamists fighting against the Syrian state. The CIA was at least since early 2012 delivering weapons from Libya to Turkey as well as through other routes. The U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed on September 11 2012 in Benghazi over some issues with the weapon transfers. Once in Turkey those weapons, as well as plane loads of others purchased by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were given to "moderate rebels" who took them into Syria. There they sold off at least part of every weapon and ammunition haul to the Islamists terror gangs which were, and still are, financed by the Wahhabi Gulf states. A new BBCRadio4 report by Peter Oborne explains in detail how that scheme works.

The JCS under Dempsey was quite disturbed that weapons transferred by the CIA were going to exactly those people they had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan just a few years ago. They decided, according to Hersh's source, to undermine the White House's and CIA's regime-change program. They provided intelligence to Syria via Germany, Russia and Israel. They also convinced the CIA that it was preferable to give away very old weapons that could be sourced in Turkey instead of newer but more difficult to transport weapons from Libya. As Hersh writes:

‘Our policy of arming the opposition to Assad was unsuccessful and actually having a negative impact,’ the former JCS adviser said. ‘The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration’s policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him? To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.

And Hersh on the weapon dealing:

By the late summer of 2013, the DIA’s assessment had been circulated widely, but although many in the American intelligence community were aware that the Syrian opposition was dominated by extremists the CIA-sponsored weapons kept coming, presenting a continuing problem for Assad’s army. Gaddafi’s stockpile had created an international arms bazaar, though prices were high. ‘There was no way to stop the arms shipments that had been authorised by the president,’ the JCS adviser said. ‘The solution involved an appeal to the pocketbook. The CIA was approached by a representative from the Joint Chiefs with a suggestion: there were far less costly weapons available in Turkish arsenals that could reach the Syrian rebels within days, and without a boat ride.’ But it wasn’t only the CIA that benefited. ‘We worked with Turks we trusted who were not loyal to Erdoğan,’ the adviser said, ‘and got them to ship the jihadists in Syria all the obsolete weapons in the arsenal, including M1 carbines that hadn’t been seen since the Korean War and lots of Soviet arms. It was a message Assad could understand: “We have the power to diminish a presidential policy in its tracks.”’

The JCS, according to Hersh, was undermining its Commander in Chief. That is, arguably, treason but U.S. history is full of examples where the military chiefs were pushing into a very different direction than their civil commanders. Trueman versus Douglas MacArthur is just one example. Think of the closing of the Guantanamo prison which the military is actively preventing for seven years now despite Obama's promise, demand and orders to shut Gitmo down.

Max Fisher, a critic of Hersh not known for factual quality journalism, claims that the Hersh account must be false because Dempsey was not against weaponizing the insurgents but even publicly asked to give them weapons:

Hersh alleges that the mastermind of this entire conspiracy was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey, whom Hersh says was horrified by Obama's plan to arm Syrian rebels and sought to aid Assad. This claim is difficult to believe: While in office, Dempsey famously and publicly clashed with Obama over Syria because Dempsey wanted to do more to arm Syrian rebels. Contemporaneous accounts of arguments within the White House support this, with Dempsey arguing the US should more robustly arm Syrian rebels, and Obama arguing for less.

Yet Hersh claims, with no evidence, that Dempsey was so opposed to arming Syrian rebels that he would commit an apparent act of treason to subvert those plans. Hersh makes no effort to reconcile this seemingly fatal contradiction, and indeed it is not clear Hersh is even aware that Dempsey is known for supporting rather than opposing efforts to arm the Syrian rebels.

Hersh is of course perfectly aware what Dempsey said and thought in early 2013. The one not aware is the critic.

Dempsey argued in early 2013 that the Pentagon should give weapons to a few carefully vetted rebels:

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta acknowledged that he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, had supported a plan last year to arm carefully vetted Syrian rebels.
...
[D]id the Pentagon, Mr. McCain continued, support the recommendation by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Petraeus “that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria? Did you support that?”

“We did,” Mr. Panetta said.

“You did support that,” Mr. McCain said.

“We did,” General Dempsey added.

The Pentagon plan was killed by the White House in favor of the ongoing CIA operation. This exchange then does not contradict but even supports the Hersh reporting. Let me explain the context.

By early 2013 Dempsey knew perfectly well that the CIA was supplying -directly or indirectly- everyone in Syria who asked for arms and ammunition. These weapons were going to the Jihadis who were simply the best financed groups. Because the CIA program was secret Dempsey of course could not say so in a public Congress hearing. But Dempsey wanted to give arms to "carefully vetted Syrian rebels" to replace the CIA program with a Pentagon program under his command. He would then have been able to direct the weapon flow and to prevent a further arming of the Islamist terrorists. Dempsey supported a Pentagon program arming the rebels so he could control the arming of the rebels that was already happening under a CIA program but was creating long term trouble.

When the hostile takeover of the CIA arming program failed, Dempsey and the JCS tried to sabotage it by providing old Turkish weapons to the CIA.

Only much later was the Pentagon allowed to run its own training program and to arm its own groups of Syrian rebels. But that program was running in parallel to the ongoing CIA program and was thereby useless for the purpose Dempsey had originally intended. It did not replace the dangerous CIA program. The Pentagon then sabotaged its own program by training only a few rebels and sending them into a Jihadi infested area where they promptly gave their arms up to Jabhat al-Nusra. This publicly proved Dempsey's main critic point of the long running CIA program: any arms going into Syria ended up in the hands of long term U.S. enemies.

I understand that Hersh's sourcing is rather weak. His main and sole direct source for the JCS story is a "former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs". That could be a military or a civilian source. Colonel Pat Lang, one of Hersh's named sources for other points in the piece, thinks the main source is real and the story true. Lang, who sometimes still consults the military, surely has enough insider connections to have a quite clear picture of this issue.

It is fine to criticize Hersh. His reporting often relies on anonymous sources. But throughout his career Hersh's reporting was proven right more often than his critics criticism of it. Here the criticism of Hersh relies on a small tunnel vision of what Dempsey claimed he wanted in a public hearing without regard of the context of Dempsey's claim. Dempsey wanted to replace the then still secret CIA arming program that the DIA and other parts of the military had rightly found to be on a very dangerous path.

The Pentagon under Dempsey, fearing the CIA was repeating old errors, was turf fighting against the CIA under neocon Petraeus and later under the great friend of Saudi Arabia John Brennan. Unfortunately the White House backed the CIA and thereby, more or less willfully, allied with the Islamic State and the other assorted Jihadi organizations (pdf) in Syria.

Posted by b on December 21, 2015 at 01:59 PM | Permalink

Comments

For the hundreds of millions the DIA gobbles up every year, and all the resources the Pentagon has at it's disposal, the lunacy of 'arming a few carefully-vetted rebels' in a civil war borders on incompetence. ANYONE in the DIA and JCoS that thought this was a good, workable idea should be summarily court-martialed for incompetence and dereliction of duty.

I paid Dempsey and his minions to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. He swore to do that. If his Commander in Chief or the CIA went rouge and were acting to the detriment of the constitution, then Dempsey doing nothing except to propose a useless alternative makes him useless as a defender of the constitution and derelict in his duty. He lied when he took his oath.

Lang chastised me about 'electing the right people' rather than blaming the military if I didn't like U.S. policy. I say bullshit and bullshit, again. If you are too much of a coward or too incompetent to understand the constitution, then resign your commissions and stop standing by while this country is dragged into a sewer. I don't pay the Pentagon to follow orders, I pay them to protect and defend the constitution. They could be replaced with Blackwater/Xe/Academi serial-killers if their job was to follow unconstitutional orders. It IS their God damn pay grade to interpret the Constitution.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 21, 2015 2:28:09 PM | 1

I wonder why Petrarus was taken out...and why graham can't quit crying today. Rogue CIA . Who knew!

Posted by: Shadyl | Dec 21, 2015 2:37:48 PM | 2

Also, weapons were routed from Croatia through Jordan from 2012 per this NYT report.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?_r=0

Later, we fined that the weapons contractor Purple Shovel Inc. delivered defective grenades and other obsolete weapons.

Posted by: Les | Dec 21, 2015 2:42:14 PM | 3

Listen up mate,

You fucking Americans are spliting hairs about arming insurgent groups against UN memeber states.

Stop this BS. If the US started arming 'moderate' Thais against Malaysians, is that OK?

Stop being a fucking moron.

Posted by: Andy V | Dec 21, 2015 2:47:43 PM | 4

IA that it's all splitting hairs. The "evidence" was there for all to see, even before Benghazi.

The problem is that no one who has the "proof" is brave enough to stand up and possibly get JFK'd.

Posted by: Ananymus | Dec 21, 2015 2:52:32 PM | 5

thanks b...

@1 paveway... pat langs site is a pretty crazy cocktail.. a good chunk of them are sycophants that pat seems to openly encourage.. it's an 'all hail pat' site.. if you don't go along with him - he starts harassing you, or bans you...

Posted by: james | Dec 21, 2015 2:55:55 PM | 6

Thanks b - great work!

Posted by: Oui | Dec 21, 2015 2:57:59 PM | 7

Very grateful for this excellent analysis, b.

Posted by: Lochearn | Dec 21, 2015 3:17:56 PM | 8

Erdogan can be canned anytime but his timing is not up yet as he has been doing as requested by the US/Nato, where by no opposition in Turkey would do as he does. He is the grand vizier of criminal network along with his partners in crime (KSA, Qatar) under the mastermind (the US)..

Erdogan via third-third party contractors/intelligence might be responsible of Benghazi debacle as well but he, I suspect, holds evidence against his crime partners (CIA/Obama admin/Nato) hence he feels safe/protected.

That's also evident how Obama publicly defended Turkey (thus Erdogan) post-Russsian plane shoot down.

Posted by: Truist | Dec 21, 2015 3:31:42 PM | 9

Nice analysis indeed, though I (moderately) second Andy V's comment.

Posted by: Brian2 | Dec 21, 2015 3:47:45 PM | 10

Dempsey supported sending lethal arms to Ukraine.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 21, 2015 3:49:09 PM | 11

I'm waiting to see what Dempsey has to say.

Anything but a firm denial = confirmation?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 21, 2015 3:50:13 PM | 12

I think Hersh has been duped on this one. The MIC and Pentagon are all about weapons sales and money. The chaos they create ie. (creative destruction) is of no concern to them. In the final analysis the Wolfowitz doctrine reigns supreme (full spectrum dominance). If they can't directly overthrow a gov't, the next best thing is to create chaos on that country's borders (including Russia,and China) forcing said State to waste resources trying to stabilize the situation. This has been the Anglo-Zionist modus operandi throughout the 21st century. The Pentagon is not worried about jihadists ending up with the weapons. In fact that's the plan.

Posted by: Kraken | Dec 21, 2015 4:04:06 PM | 13

Andy V @ 4 says:

You fucking Americans are spliting hairs about arming insurgent groups against UN memeber states

word.

i mean, let's have a good laugh.

i mean, let's have a (from the 3:47 mark) good cry.

Posted by: john | Dec 21, 2015 4:18:40 PM | 14

An interesting thing was said to me about 2009.A friend who came back to the usa after visiting Jordan,said to me ,"you palestinians are screwed".I said "what do you mean"?He said all of You are going to be removed to jordan.There are ghost empty new cities and camps in northern jordan at the boarder of syria with lots of foreign people running around .At the time I laughed it off.Now we know.

Posted by: dagon | Dec 21, 2015 4:20:03 PM | 15

Posted by: Kraken | Dec 21, 2015 4:04:06 PM | 13

The Pentagon is not worried about jihadists ending up with the weapons. In fact that's the plan.

Exactly. The Jihadists are already infiltrating central Asia, causing a headache for Russia/China/etc. Russia has actually cited the need to fight the Jihadis in Syria/Iraq rather than allow them to grow further. Dempsey must have known of how "useful" they are for pressuring Russia/China/Iran.

Any JCS Chair is well vetted.

And there are other problems with Hersh's latest. He seems to accept the official narrative at points; acts too much like a transcriber instead of a reporter (there doesn't seem to be any attempt to verify anything); and doesn't attempt to connect any dots (his "The Redirection" cited an alliance between Israel, USA, and KSA to use extremists as a weapon).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 21, 2015 4:27:07 PM | 16

There is another part of the Empire's playbook here that needs to be mentioned vis a vis arming jihadists and creating chaos. This concerns the nefarious R2P. If the intended State reacts to the instigated chaos by forcefully repressing it, then the leadership is accused by the West of "killing their own people". This would reflect the scenario concerning Assad. If, on the other hand, the Gov't in power does not respond with force (Ukraine), then the West can accuse them of not being able to protect their citizens. It's unbelievable how many people in the West have fallen for this ruse.

Posted by: Kraken | Dec 21, 2015 4:44:29 PM | 17

Dempsey and Brennan come from such similar backgrounds. They are second and first generation Irish Americans, Catholic school, from towns in the New York metropolitan area not 50 miles away from each other and were born within 3 years of each other in the early/mid 50s. From there, Dempsey went to West Point while Brennan went to Fordham and then joined the CIA.

I know a lot of people from this same kind of background in the same area. Most of the friends and acquaintances I know though, are 5-10 years younger -- the younger siblings of Dempsey and Brennan's peers just as I have siblings of their age (one of whom even went to West Point). It's interesting how differently they turned out.

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Dec 21, 2015 4:45:05 PM | 18

After reading this Hersh article, I wonder who the real culprit was who undermined the Pentagon train & equip program and caused such great public embarrassment when their fighters were immediately captured or defected.

Did the Pentagon sabotage their own program to show that the weapons would end up in the hands of AQ and ISIS? Maybe. Or maybe the CIA was retaliating or afraid that the Pentagon program would succeed. It was blamed on Turkish intelligence who allegedly leaked information about where and when the fighters would enter Syria.

There are some pretty good arguments for both explanations though if the Pentagon really wanted to get vetted fighters into Syria quickly they would have assembled more fighters and worked faster. Moon of Alabama's argument allows them to not only prove there weren't many moderates to be found but that as soon as they went into Syria they'd defect and give or sell their weapons to the extremists.

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Dec 21, 2015 4:52:45 PM | 19

Not exactly on this Hersh's piece.

But on Samir Kuntar's death.

What was the mean of execution?

Was it by aerial bombing?

Drone or Fighter?

Who gave the order?

If i am not mistaken, it is the second such (mysterious) explosion in Damascus on a Sunday morning.

If Russia allowed the purported aircraft into the Syrian airspace, then they are complicit in the assassination.
(assuming the S400 could have prevented it.)

If the S300 belonging to Assad failed to prevent the strike, either the S300 is not as good as painted or...
Al Assad gave his blessing to the execution, or the Russians did not authorise its use by the Syrians.

But then, Al Assad's side could have warned Samir to take cover elsewhere.

The Iranians can't be happy about it. The Hezbollah much less. And Syrians in general have to feel exposed to
Israel's whims.

This is a very bad PR coup against Vladimir Putin because this creates doubt about Russia's commitment to the Regime.

I suppose Bashar Al Assad must sleep in a good bunker, I mean a very good bunker.

Anyway, this smells bad.

Posted by: CarlD | Dec 21, 2015 4:59:35 PM | 20

CBS News reported in August 2015 that hundreds of trainees in the anti-ISIS training program had abandoned the training because they decided that fighting Assad was more important.

This fact makes Hersh's description of Pentagon's training program problematic (I take it that it was the Pentagon's training programs was the anti-ISIS training). Hersh's source seems to be fitting data to his narrative.

Hersh's source talks about concerns that the Syrian Army might/might have infiltrate the program but that makes no sense. The Syrian Army no doubt trains their own troops. They MAY have sent a few through the program to get intelligence, but why would they send any more than that?

The training of anti-ISIS fighters graduated <100 fighters who then gave-up their weapons to al-Nusra. But the hundreds of fighters that 'dropped out' might've had weeks of training before doing so, and likely never wanted to fight ISIS. It seems to me that the training program was really meant to train anti-Assad fighters.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 21, 2015 5:29:10 PM | 21

I wonder if Dempsey's concern/disagreement with using extremists is being exaggerated into treason to discredit him.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 21, 2015 5:31:42 PM | 22

Maybe it's nothing but the timing on this McClatchy article, a scathing piece on the Pentagon Train & Equip program, is interesting

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article50919765.html

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Dec 21, 2015 5:41:06 PM | 23

All this who said what stuff is beside the point. The U.S. policy is Full Spectrum Dominance all over the world That is to control land, sea, air and space. Currently there are over 800
U.S. and Nato bases throughout the world. Both Russia and China are a threat to this NWO
agenda and goal of F.S.D.. The U.S. and Nato for decades. Have been fighting both countries with proxy armies of either right-wing extremist(Ukraine) or Islamic Extremist in places Syria, Libya, Iraq and Lebanon. These extremist are trained and funded by the CIA and other intelligence services of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel. Ask yourself this question. Why didn't President Obama condemn President Erdogan of Turkey. When Russia exposed recently that Turkey is aiding and abetting Islamic terrorist in Syria. Erdogan has been making billions of dollars on the illegal Syrian Oil that Isis is transporting into Turkey. Instead Obama praises Erdogan even when Turkey shoots down a Russian jet. And why for now well over a year after the U.S. and Nato are bombing Isis, they kept expanding in Syria. While the U.S. and Nato leave mile long convoys of oil trucks headed in Turkey from Syria untouched. In conclusion, Obama's policy of the U.S. backing Islamic Extremist in Syria. Is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States and the world.

Posted by: Ron | Dec 21, 2015 5:57:15 PM | 24

Noirette @95 in the previous thread criticized the Hersh article on the Ghouta chemical attacks of August 2013 (Whose sarin?)

I believe Seymour Hersh is very reliable.

Someone mentioned that Hersh had shown that the Ghouta attacks were a false flag attack. I disagree. I believe it was me and my coworkers at ACLOS and CIWCL that showed the attack be a false flag.

I was disappointed when the Hersh article on the attacks came out, as he did not reference our work. But then I realized that did not investigate the attack. He had not even spoken to any investigator, nor had he read any investigation. Hersh is a reporter, not an investigator. He only reports what his reliable inside sources tell him.

If new information comes out, it is because someone wants it to come out. In this sense he is a limited hangout.

Jackrabbit already criticized the new article. Hersh is part of the Western mainstream so his reporting reflects Western mainstream narrative.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Dec 21, 2015 6:02:45 PM | 25

I think Hersh's piece accurately represents the thinking of some in the Pentagon. While he does act as a stenographer in some instances (Russian "aggression" in Ukraine, stating as a fact the Russian jet flew in Turkish airspace) as post #19 says, to me this doesn't undermine his other points. The Pentagon and CIA have a lot of animosity (power struggles and competition although they have a lot in common) and the folks in the Pentagon wanting to point out the crimes of the CIA is not unusual. (It works in both directions; there are some who say the Pentagon Papers was instigated by the CIA to pin the blame on the Army, for instance.) The CIA is in the catbird's seat right now with an ever-larger role in killing people via drones and the JCS can't enjoy that.

Just because Dempsey said something different publicly doesn't mean a darn thing. The generals are rarely honest with public statements. Especially now that any reasonable person can see that US policy has been a disaster for everyone but the arms dealers and KSA/Turkey/Israel I can see the JCS wanting to point out that this isn't their fault (and in honesty, it probably isn't).

Posted by: WorldBLee | Dec 21, 2015 6:15:30 PM | 26

CFR doing some hand-wringing over Assad staying power

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/its-time-to-rethink-syria-213184

Posted by: Les | Dec 21, 2015 6:32:15 PM | 27

Here's the pictorial of the arms pipelines to Syria that accompanies the New York Times article.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/an-arms-pipeline-to-the-syrian-rebels.html?_r=1&

Posted by: Les | Dec 21, 2015 6:59:55 PM | 28

b

Thanks. This clarifies the thinness in Seymour Hersh’s report.

Byzantine accurately describes 21st Century Washington DC. There are layers and currents in the use of power that overlap, push against each other and get all screwed up which are never reported in corporate media. Clearly the Joint Chiefs are onboard for the shipping of arms and American troops to Ukraine with the ultimate purpose of destabilizing Russia. Yet, they are in constant contact with the Russian military and worked out a memorandum of understanding for sorties over Syria. The Globalists on the other hand are single minded in their need to take down Vladimir Putin and the China/Russia financial alliance. Some in the military worry about the blowback. The Davos Elite don’t give a damn. They want the weapons sales and they need well-armed proxy Jihadists to bring chaos to Eurasia.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Dec 21, 2015 7:17:57 PM | 29

Weird coincidence today. I was in the dollar store and saw that sh*tbag former General Stanley McChrystal had a book in the dollar store. Book "deals" are notorious as being a payoff to a politician or someone else. No one wanted his sh*t book but he got an upfront advance, sold a fake few dozen cases of his book and it then went to the dollar store or repupler where most of these "payoff" books end up.

McChrystal is now working a Blackwater type outfit in the UAE for probably big bucks. The (mostly Sunni) Arabs in these gulf states know they are hated. All these Pentagram military men are sellouts like the CIA and other intel agencies. They are traitors.

The Saudis and UAE plus thir mercs are being destroyed in Yemen by the Houthi and Yemeni people. The House of Saud/Fraud needs serial beheading of those inbred "royals." Evil scum.

Posted by: Mark-o | Dec 21, 2015 8:18:04 PM | 30

Patrick Lang's site the SST always a good read , however never drop your thinking cap when you are there , because he seems to have this 'naive' attitude , blasting every nonconforming post as 'conspiracy nut'..

considering how mr lang admitted he is close to mr hersh , i wouldnt dismiss the possibility that mr lang is one part of the same disinfo channel as hersh , disinfo as in giving away 80% truth and 20% lies..

his site reminded me of Vineyard Saker's site , a heavy handed approach to commenters who pointed mistakes and having different opinion.. which is a red-flag sign , because they are trying to mold the site and the comments to push their narrative instead of formenting discussion.

Posted by: milomilo | Dec 21, 2015 8:18:38 PM | 31

gasp....

what a text. Is this purported for shallow consumer mind? What are you on Samsung or iPhone?

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest murderer of them all?"

The U.S. Government's Einsatzgruppen have a problems...or it seems so, or they just shifting responsibility, old Nazi trick who had created numerous layers of murders and their bureaucracy. One should read Hanah Arendt about it. And Hersh comes handy to shape public perception and romanticizing murderers, and to be quoted like in this blog! What a rubbish, imagine M1 carabins. Imagine Hersh in time with Lawrence of Arabia?

....General Vincent Stewart, the head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, claimed in September that Iraq and Syria were unlikely to emerge intact from years of war and sectarian violence.

In Iraq, the Defense Intelligence Agency boss indicated that he believes it unlikely that a government in Baghdad could hold authority over the disparate regions within the country's official borders;

Stewart claimed that he is "wrestling with the idea that the Kurds will come back to a central government of Iraq".

Also in the same month, CIA Director John Brennan echoed Stewart's idea that the borders of the Middle-Eastern countries have irreparably broken down as a result of war and sectarianism.

"I think the Middle East is going to be seeing change over the coming decade or two that is going to make it look unlike it did," said Brennan, remarking that Iraqis and Syrians now identify themselves more by their tribe or religious sect, than by nationality.

It appears the heads of Einsatzgruppen DO NOT have a problems, they are very focused....in destroying and killing nations and its diversity.

Posted by: Neretva'43 | Dec 21, 2015 8:43:15 PM | 32

Hersh probably gets paid on a per-word basis, like lawyers and the infinitely verbose Noam Chomsky. Hersh's verbosity can be excused because he's paid to provide as much info as possible (in case it might, one day, become relevant). However, if one takes a precis knife to the Hersh article, the circa 10% remaining makes it clear that all the competing factions in the M-IC wanted Syria destroyed. And each faction cooked up its own ass-covering back-story to half-explain the contradictions between, and within, the factions. i.e. a coherent outcome without a coherent plan (for either the process or the preferred end-point).

When Russia showed up in Syria, the first theme exploited by non-MSM pundits was the unified Western outrage characterised by headlines which said, or meant:
"Hey, Putin's bombing our terrorists!"

And I suspect that that is all Hersh was attempting to "explain".

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 21, 2015 10:11:56 PM | 33

@1 PavewayIV

I agree in principle. However, if the military is the party suggesting the less evil path, it's clear the country is in deep trouble. Lang's term 'the borg' referring to the neocon israeli/saudi/empire of chaos consensus people, is apt. Military wants more money, officers want their own commands, the neocons want chaos and misery that their friends can profit from.

The ideal would be a a civilian leadership that didn't desire misery on earth and a military leadership that obeyed them. Here we are.

Posted by: Cresty | Dec 21, 2015 10:13:24 PM | 34

Seems like too many assholes in Washington watched the show 24. The amount of duplicity and destructive/insane policy preening this administration is an absolute disgrace

Posted by: bbbb | Dec 21, 2015 10:28:04 PM | 35

Somehow this article by Hirsh seems like an apology of some sorts for certain elements in washington. Even Erdogan and Saudis are trying to put new masks on, behaving like it was all just a mixup somewhere. The fact is that hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives as a result of this total crime against humanity perpetrated by amateur diplomats and professional warmakers in Washington.
Like the previous posters said earlier..
Andy V @ 4 says:

You fucking Americans are spliting hairs about arming insurgent groups against UN memeber states

word.

i mean, let's have a good laugh.

i mean, let's have a (from the 3:47 mark) good cry.

Posted by: john | Dec 21, 2015 4:18:40 PM | 14

Posted by: Burning Spear | Dec 21, 2015 10:55:40 PM | 36

Ron @ 24: Yep, it's crystal clear for anyone paying attention, your post is right on point. All that's missing is motive for FSD ( full spectrum dominance), is nothing less than capturing market share for corporate domination globally.

Posted by: ben | Dec 21, 2015 11:36:21 PM | 37

@14 john.. never saw that 2nd link before.. fucking brutal..

@25 petri.. thanks.

@31 milomilo.. exactly..

Posted by: james | Dec 22, 2015 2:02:21 AM | 38

CarlD & Lone Wolf,
Re: your interest in how Samir Kuntar was killed.
This may be relevant, as a sort of rehearsal in general: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-04/israel-conducts-secret-training-exercises-against-russian-air-defense-systems

--
milomilo @ 31,
Saker did have for awhile a moderator who censored certain subjects. Before that moderator there was no problem. Now that that moderator has left, there is once again no problem. You all know that my posts are often dissident and doubting of your cherished beliefs. Yet once again all my posts get thru.

Posted by: Penelope | Dec 22, 2015 3:18:17 AM | 39

Hoarsewhisperer @ 33,
"And each faction cooked up its own ass-covering back-story to half-explain the contradictions between, and within, the factions. i.e. a coherent outcome without a coherent plan (for either the process or the preferred end-point)."

I think you are right.

Posted by: Penelope | Dec 22, 2015 3:20:58 AM | 40

james

brutal it is.

i mean, somehow the horror and inhumanity of dying by tasteless, odorless gas seems preferable to being shredded by a 30mm cannon.

Posted by: john | Dec 22, 2015 3:24:24 AM | 41

oops

Posted by: john | Dec 22, 2015 3:25:19 AM | 42

@15 - yup, every day they creep closer and closer to pulling off their ethnic cleansing gambit

Posted by: Refocus | Dec 22, 2015 3:38:41 AM | 43

@15 good read about it.

http://original.antiwar.com/Dan_Sanchez/2015/12/21/war-is-realizing-the-israelizing-of-the-world/

Posted by: Refocus | Dec 22, 2015 3:49:49 AM | 44

Sorry for not contributing anything substantial once again, but, being a casual yet regular reader, every now and then I just have to praise b's work. There are many good finds on this blog, mostly substantiated, sometimes opinion. It's really something that reminds me of "good old days" of journalism, although that memory is more nostalgia and b's blog is probably better than what I remember as "journalism". Of course more in the sense of a digest for some of the few good journalists that do the groundwork out there. I wish there were more like this. Ever thought about a kind of blogroll to selected blogs that you personally could recommend in the sidebar?
Also kudos to some well educated contributors. Sometimes there's even a real discussion going on here, while the trolling has recently been limited to slightly annoying but non-destructive interference.
Cheers and best wishes to everyone here.

Posted by: radiator | Dec 22, 2015 3:50:20 AM | 45

A little OT but related to misrepresentations in the press..

A leaked document sent by Lord Coe's aide has confirmed what we knew already. There is a coordinated effort by the British press to smear Russia going back to at least 2013,

"I believe if we consider using CSM we can also benefit from Seb’s political influence in the UK. It is in his personal interest to ensure that the World Championships in Moscow are a success and that people do not think that the press in his country wants to destroy them. We will work hard to stop all attacks planned by the British press towards Russia in the coming weeks."

Pretty damning stuff.

Posted by: Bill | Dec 22, 2015 3:59:35 AM | 46

b

Yes a timely Hershilian 'Given Wisdom' compote of MENA history for the 2015 Omnibus Festivus, cast to emphasize that, despite all available evidence to the contrary, the Record shall state that Mssrs Betrayus, Panetta, Dempsey, and by the association, Graham and McCain were only 'doing G-d's Work' and would never be in any way associated with massive and fungible war crimes they have committed on behalf of Prince Bandar and the Sultan of Qatar. All those beheadings, cruxifictions, burnings at the stake, mass kidnappings, murders rapes...oh, no,no,no!! Their Pentagonal Ring of Shaytan (and Israel's open co-involvement) can't 'see what they have done', as Putin lectured, because they're the Good Spirits, the Defenders of Demoncracy and HappyUp, ...why, you know, they wouldn't hurt a fly!

I like reading Hersh like I like reading The Saker, but Hersh is a recidivist rewriter of history, especially re Israel(c), and when the War Tribunals are held, you can bet Hersh will be singing like a canary in defense of the Crypto-Zionist Nazis, waving his tomes, no doubt paid for by those very perps out of a now TRILLION DOLLAR Wehrmacht Perpetual Security State.

Meanwhile, as The Saker voiced today, the IMF/WB broke four of their iron-clad 'No Loan' rules two days ago, by refinacing the Israeli-Kiev Junta, and thereby allowing them to default on their $3B bailout loan from Russia repayment, making the IMF/WB officially just another war criminal Mafia.org.

It's officially WW3 game on....

Posted by: Chipnik | Dec 22, 2015 4:35:15 AM | 47

...
Ever thought about a kind of blogroll to selected blogs that you personally could recommend in the sidebar?
...
Posted by: radiator | Dec 22, 2015 3:50:20 AM | 45

Looks like it. It's a couple of lines above the Recent Comments column.
(BLOGROLL and LINKS)
Some people check stuff like that, before deciding whether to lurk/loiter, to get a handle on the the blog owner's preferences.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 22, 2015 5:12:51 AM | 48

Can't believe my eyes.
b's last link is to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation....

Tony Blair triggered strong reactions from parents of soldiers killed in Iraq and the political opposition, after the British prime minister evoked God in his decision to go to war.
http://forums.canadiancontent.net/international-politics/44123-blair-god-told-me-go.html

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 22, 2015 6:20:23 AM | 49

#48 Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 22, 2015 5:12:51 AM

Damn, guess my filter is so much tuned to the bloglist being in a columun on the front page that I did never notice that link up there.

Posted by: radiator | Dec 22, 2015 6:36:55 AM | 50

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 22, 2015 6:20:23 AM | 49

Obviously, they would be the "experts" on Jihadi groups.

I think the whole strategy of using "stirred up Muslims" for geopolitical goals is at stake. Because, politically, this is only possible as long as the American people (and Europeans) are not interested and do not notice.

Recent news from Afghanistan

US continues to push for negotiations with Taliban despite direct ties to Al Qaeda

Neither India, nor China, nor Russia, and I don't think Pakistan will support this. NATO need to transport their military stuff through some countries.

Behold - how the US blew 17 Billion in Afghanistan

Check out who is the publisher of this information for the US taxpayer

BBC are not amused
Obama's struggle to realise anti war rethoric

Basically it is "blame Obama" now. Mostly, from a hawkish point of view - "the US should have done more".

So yes, should the Obama administration wish to leave with some sort of solution, they need Russia. Badly.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 22, 2015 6:48:16 AM | 51

@ #49.
Actually, Bliar invoked God, which would be a crime all by itself if the PTB took religion as seriously as the brainwashed Peasants have been taught to do ... which they obviously do not...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 22, 2015 7:10:15 AM | 52

Read The Times article in Libyan Free Press - Largest Shipload of Libyan Weapons Heading to Armed Groups in Syria.

Persons involved:
FSA spokesperson: Abu Mohammed
Libyan cargo ship: The Intisaar (victory)
Port city in Turkey: Iskenderun
Captain as listed on cargo papers: Omar Mousaeeb

The article pointed out that Mousaeeb is “a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support,” which is delivering supplies to the armed groups in Syria.

The British newspaper highlighted differences between the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Syria and the so-called Free Army over each claiming the cargo for themselves, which “delayed the arrival of the weapons in Syria.”

It's quite important to understand there was mortal rivalry between so-called rebel groups in Syria. All had seperate funding from their masters and played to the tune of Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood (Qatar), Salafists (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE). Seperately the Al Qaeda linked groups from Iraq and the border region inside of Syria based on tribal allegiance. The US and Britons used Jordan and the border region of Syria, south of Damascus, to open an important front against the Assad regime. The Jabhat al-Nusra group nestled in this region upto the Golan Heights and received direct support from Israel's IDF and IAF.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 22, 2015 7:25:49 AM | 53

Feds Hired British Security Firm to Protect Benghazi Consulate

Contrary to Friday’s claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that “at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,” the department inked a contract for “security guards and patrol services” on May 3 for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only “foreign security awardees” as its recipient.

The State Department confirmed to Danger Room on Monday that the firm was Blue Mountain, a British company.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 22, 2015 7:27:08 AM | 55

CarlD

It seems that Russia has made a deal with Israel. Russia won't interfere things Israel's deems a threat to its national security. So we have Israel occupying part of Syria in the Golan. The Syrian side is occuppied by ISIS/FSA. Israel has attacked Hezbollah and SAA(?) military commanders in Damascus who are leading the ground fight against ISIS, leaving the actual ISIS/FSA thugs untouched.

Israel's actions have clearly and unambiguously indicated that ISIS/FSA is not a national security threat. That is the one good outcome of Russia stabbing Hezbollah and SAA in the back over this.

If any innocent civilians died in the attack, at least they died in a good cause - Russia doesn't have to put up with Israel's persistent kvetching. /sarc.

Posted by: Yonatan | Dec 22, 2015 9:34:43 AM | 56

Israelizing the whole world

http://original.antiwar.com/Dan_Sanchez/2015/12/21/war-is-realizing-the-israelizing-of-the-world/

It could also be called Salvadorizing the entire world whereby the governments are too weak to fend off paramilitaries backed by the West and are blackmailed into accepting US military "aid".

Posted by: Les | Dec 22, 2015 9:51:27 AM | 57

OT;The MSM are after Trump big time.They are trying to frame him as antifeminist and vulgar,as he said the hell bitch got schlonged by Obomba in 08.An obvious yiddish expression btw.They had a marvelous descriptive sch in front of their many slurs.
And a story about Iranians hacking a dam in Rye NY,a tiny flood control spillway,where no one would be threatened by its opening.But the Guardian put a picture of a dam in Oregon(of whom this tiny dam was confused with by our protectorate)much bigger and more propaganda value than the actual dam in NY,a tiny affair.What a sad sad story there,the Graun.Zionist infiltration and absconding destroys brain cells.
And the MSM plays up space X and Zionist Musk,as we let Israel steal our space program.My God.
They flattened an apartment building to assassinate that Palestinian in Leb I see.(AA)No word on collateral damage huh?


trying out 6+

Posted by: dahoit | Dec 22, 2015 9:58:02 AM | 58

US can use Islamic State to counter Russia, China’
Mollazehi says Middle Eastern militant group may use Afghanistan to expand into Greater Khorasan region

The Iranian analyst believes that there is a possibility of the US reaching some sort of an accommodation with the Islamic State to counter Russia. He said that there was a possibility that the Islamic State could move to a region, where they would not receive assistance from the West but the US would also not pose a threat to them.

He said that the US warplanes could launch attacks against the Islamic State’s targets in Iraq and Syria but Washington would not conduct a similar campaign in Afghanistan or Central Asian countries. “There is even a possibility that the US will strike a deal with Islamic State in Afghanistan to counter Russia, China and Iran,” he said.

– New sources of income –

Mollazehi maintains that the Islamic State would find new sources of income once it settles in Afghanistan. “The obvious choice will be to take over the lucrative opium trade since they will receive access to poppy fields. The Islamic State could also tap into Afghanistan's natural resources and sell them via the same routes they use to sell oil smuggled from Iraq and Syria,” he said.

“Approximately 90 percent of world opium is located in the Helmand province, the same region where Islamic State is becoming more active. The group's goal is to take opium poppy cultivation territories under control. It will also receive access to key drug trafficking channels,” the expert detailed.

Isis is recruiting soldiers in Helmand

Posted by: somebody | Dec 22, 2015 9:59:11 AM | 59

US can use Islamic State to counter Russia, China’
Mollazehi says Middle Eastern militant group may use Afghanistan to expand into Greater Khorasan region

The Iranian analyst believes that there is a possibility of the US reaching some sort of an accommodation with the Islamic State to counter Russia. He said that there was a possibility that the Islamic State could move to a region, where they would not receive assistance from the West but the US would also not pose a threat to them.

He said that the US warplanes could launch attacks against the Islamic State’s targets in Iraq and Syria but Washington would not conduct a similar campaign in Afghanistan or Central Asian countries. “There is even a possibility that the US will strike a deal with Islamic State in Afghanistan to counter Russia, China and Iran,” he said.

– New sources of income –

Mollazehi maintains that the Islamic State would find new sources of income once it settles in Afghanistan. “The obvious choice will be to take over the lucrative opium trade since they will receive access to poppy fields. The Islamic State could also tap into Afghanistan's natural resources and sell them via the same routes they use to sell oil smuggled from Iraq and Syria,” he said.

“Approximately 90 percent of world opium is located in the Helmand province, the same region where Islamic State is becoming more active. The group's goal is to take opium poppy cultivation territories under control. It will also receive access to key drug trafficking channels,” the expert detailed.

Isis is recruiting soldiers in Helmand

Posted by: somebody | Dec 22, 2015 9:59:11 AM | 60

Although I am skeptical about Hersh's reporting, news of push-back against "the Borg" (Pat Lang's term) is welcome.

Someone at SST noted that the way that Hersh ended his report ("The message was never listened to. Why not?") may be a teaser for a follow-up article. I hope that is so because enumerating the personal ties and multi-billion dollar deals between US/West and "ME allies" would be a public service.

The questions that interest me are: What motivated Hersh's source to tell this story? Why now? And, how will Dempsey's respond?

Motivation
Presumably, the source is a Dempsey confidant. If so, then it is likely that Dempsey approves of his talking with Hersh. But it is also possible that he is a confident that doesn't have Dempsey's approval. If he HAS Dempsey's approval, that would indicate that Dempsey wants to continue his resistance/fight with "the Borg". If not, then revealing this info has some other purpose (set the record straight, encourage others to resist, etc.).

Then there is the possibility that the source is against Dempsey. That he is working with the Obama Administration to discredit Dempsey. Hersh, whose recent reporting about the sarin gas attack was almost certainly irritating to the Obama Administration, would also be discredited.

Why now?
In the last few weeks we have seen: ISIS/ISIS-inspired attacks on the West (Paris, San Bernardino, etc.); increased tensions with Russia (especially after downing of its war plane); talk of belligerent moves like a no-fly-zone and troops on the ground.

I think the event with the most potential for damaging "the Borg" is the attack in San Bernardino.

IMO Dempsey's response could be:

>> Silence
This is a tacit admission. There is less risk to Dempsey than if he were to make an overt Admission. And it leaves the Administration stewing - questioning who else may be working against them.

>> Attack/Stubborn Defiance
"What Hersh reports is true. I was against the use of extremists as a weapon. Innocent American lives were lost in San Bernardino because the President supported those who use extremists as a weapon."
This has maximum effect. Daring the Administration to arrest and try Dempsey. Only a complete and devastating reversal can stop "the Borg".

>> Weak or partial denial
"I disagreed with the President's policies, but..."
This would be Dempsey trying to have it both ways: air his differences but defend his character. IMO, it would be the worst response as it diffuses the impact of Hersh's report and puts the matter in a grey area that the Administration can spin: the-enemy-within that resists the BorgPresident are making us unsafe!

>> Strong/Forceful Denial
I categorically REJECT this attack on my character and service."
Any denial raises the question of 'dirty tricks' but a strong denial implies a higher probability of that. Did "the Borg" use Hersh to discredit Dempsey because he disagreed with using extremists as a weapon?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 22, 2015 11:14:05 AM | 61

S@60

It's always entertaining read what Iran's Supreme Leader's propaganda mill churns out for the rubes consumption and distribution. The Taliban shut down the opium production in Afghanistan in 2000 and the Islamic State doesn't allow tobacco smoking so I doubt they are interested in creating more junkies even in Europe.

Iranian paranoia about the IS and the US probably accounts for this fantasy about a possible agreement between them but fear and confusion trolling seems to be Iran's chosen tactic to cover the fact they have two distinct enemies not one.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 22, 2015 11:14:15 AM | 62

@62 I'll file that one with the planned Russia/Israel naval exercises and the 70,000 moderate Syrian opposition fighters.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/12/afghan-opium-crop-record-high-united-nations


Posted by: dh | Dec 22, 2015 12:07:45 PM | 63

ISIS is selling in the West the antiquities from places like Palmyra that it professes to despise. Why can't it do the same with opium?

Posted by: lysias | Dec 22, 2015 12:39:42 PM | 64

US using Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia using criminals

Known and documented, Saudi Arabia has played a key strategic role in promoting and financing terrorism on behalf of Washington. Moreover, Saudi weapons purchases from the US and Canada are also being used to equip and arm various “opposition” rebel groups in Syria including the ISIL and Al Nusrah.
(........)
We have reached an agreement with them that they will be exempted from the death sentence and given a monthly salary to their families and loved ones, who will be prevented from traveling outside Saudi Arabia in return for rehabilitation of the accused and their training in order to send them to Jihad in Syria.
(........)
This “version of Wahhabism” has nothing to with Islam, it’s “Made in America”, its a diabolical tool of US foreign policy, which consists in applying and manipulating the ideology of Wahhabism as a means of recruiting and indoctrinating terrorists to wage a “jihad” on behalf of Uncle Sam.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/when-terrorism-becomes-counter-terrorism-the-state-sponsors-of-terrorism-are-going-after-the-terrorists/5496051

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 22, 2015 12:40:23 PM | 65

Naive Russia getting fooled again by Obama
https://www.rt.com/news/326797-us-russia-sanctions-ukraine/

Posted by: Sedertreed@hotmail.com | Dec 22, 2015 12:40:23 PM | 66

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 22, 2015 11:14:15 AM | 62

Russia is paranoid, too.

Turkish labs turn Afghan opium into heroin for shipping to Europe - Russian anti-drug agency

Afghan opium is being processed into high-grade heroin in clandestine Turkish drug labs for distribution in Europe and Russia, Russia’s anti-drug chief has revealed. The trafficking route was exposed after a joint Russian-Afghan anti-drug operation.

“The cargo traveled through Badakhshan-Doshi-Bamiyan-Herat, then further through Iran and into Turkey, where the opium was processed in well-equipped laboratories…into high quality heroin, and then was to be sent to Europe and Russia,” Ivanov said during an anti-narcotics committee meeting.

...

The FSKN head stressed that drug trafficking has enabled Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) to boost its numbers four-fold since 2014, Ivanov said.

“The spike in IS fighters corresponds with the annual increase of drug smuggling in the Middle East, which is confirmed by the growing number of heroin seizures in the region,” Ivanov said.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is “actively engaged with drug trafficking,” Ivanov said, adding that according to the FSKN estimates, the group’s income from illegal drug trade “makes up to $200-500 million annually.”

Posted by: somebody | Dec 22, 2015 12:56:30 PM | 67

@ 66
These sanctions are actually to punish Russia for their co-responsibility for the dead of Samir Kuntar.

Serious: How can this whole cray insane mess be stopped?
My only answer (or really only hope) is:Trump

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 22, 2015 1:05:55 PM | 68

Thank you to b for providing the link to this important article.

Burning Spear@36 says:

"Somehow this article by Hirsh seems like an apology of some sorts for certain elements in washington."

It not only seems; it is. I am very disappointed in Mr. Hersh, whose courage and ability with words I absolutely admire. This piece is what the ancient Greek astronomers would describe as 'saving the appearances,' full of convoluted geometrical diagrams to produce an appearance of reality.

There are too many instances of this in the article (are we meant to accept all its premises, its position as 'out there' carefully staged?) I can't document them all, but I began with the first paragraph, ended with the question in the last. It's as if, having a Copernican theory in hand, Mr. Hersh stepped back into the Ptolemaic world of circles and epicycles to explain what is going on in the heavens. Mr. Hersh, you are better than that.

I'll just take one example here:

" . . . for what a large number of Americans consider Putin's war crimes in Ukraine . . ."

Putin's WAR crimes? A large number of Americans? Wash your mouth out with soap, sir. And I will end by saying that for all the suggestion that Putin needs those epicycles of exceptionalism, those trainers, those important insights - that is truly laughable, or would be if conditions were not as dire as they are. Enough already.

Copernicus wasn't the final answer about what is going on with heavenly bodies; but he did get closer to the truth.

Posted by: juliania | Dec 22, 2015 1:09:31 PM | 69

Krohn @25

FWIW, I for one never fail to mention in any comment I made who and where I got the analysis from regarding the chemical attack in E Goutta. Many of us who read widely on the subject know what we saw first and we are familiar with your very excellent investigations. And not just on the Syria matter.

But, as you say, Hersh is a limited hangout. He is one source certain parties are using to get things - or should I say - push things out into the main stream. What he says now others pointed out before as it has been all but obvious that there has been a turf war going on with the military on one side along with the "good" CIA against the "bad" CIA that is in cahoots with uniformly bad Neocons plus policy nefarious elements within the administration, the "Bad Israel", the "bad Turkey", the "Bad NATO" and Saudi Arabia/Qatar (which are always bad everywhere). The bad players are of course bad only in the sense that the things they push for make the Empire look bad because they always fail, not because, heaven forbid, they are fundamentally opposed to an Empire. It's just the chaos and the blowback they don't like, or the ultimate failure, not unlike the centurion commanders back in the days of Rome.

As someone above implied, it is a sad reflection upon the state of the world when it is the American military echelons, along with parts of the Israeli Mossad that are in the breach to try and prevent the worst of the worst for all. But I also believe Hersh's account (for the most part) if only because we have all seen evidence that not everyone in the administration/Pentagon was of the same mind regarding Syria. What he didn't point out enough is that the American state department has its own cadre of "dissidents". Call them the anti-Nuland faction. And they do kind of what Dempsey did - fight from beneath, in the shadows, as going out in the open will only result in the neocons coming out in force to cut them down. And frankly, I believe (without sources, just a hunch) that Obama himself has been finding ways to indicate his tacit (not explicit!) support for the anti-neocon factions. To give some nominal support to my hunch I give the latest pronouncements of Hagel.

Posted by: Merlin2 | Dec 22, 2015 1:57:28 PM | 70

@Petri Krohn

Thank you sir for all the excellent work, greatly appreciated.

It Stinks A Mile In the Wind | Oui @EuroTrib on Sept. 8, 2013 |

Posted by: Oui | Dec 22, 2015 3:02:26 PM | 71

Helmand Taliban takeover looking stranger and stranger
New York Times

Much of the Helmand offensive has been waged by fighters loyal to Mullah Qayum Zakir, a former Guantánamo Bay inmate who is considered one of the architects of the Taliban resurgence and is a leading rival to the new Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 22, 2015 3:04:19 PM | 72

oh well, now everybody in Washington comes out with connections to Assad

former top White House official secretly went to Damascus and met with leaders of the Syrian regime

Posted by: somebody | Dec 22, 2015 3:34:53 PM | 73

Hersh article: We all know that those who want to Libyanize Syria into complete chaos include McCain, the neocons, CIA. Israel may have recently stepped back a little from this position, wishing to keep the small slice of Syria next to her own border in the stability of Assad's hands. This faction has pushed and inveigled Turkey to invade. For years Turkey has repeatedly offered to go in, provided the US joins them on the ground.

The question raised by the Hersh article is whether Obama is allied with this neocon-CIA faction. And whether the military (and the JCS specifically) are.

The JCS first: Even the command structure of the military cannot completely obviate strong opinion from below. Morale cannot be maintained while all but the newest and youngest recruits understand that the purposes of military action are dishonorable. Mid-level ranks must know that its goals do not comprise even ithe DIShonorable interests of the US, but only those of an illegitimate US power structure. Ranks below the JCS and the corrupt generals whom everyone can see are bought in advance by their lucrative retirement positions w the MIC-- ranks below this are people like you and me; they are geopolitically better informed than the citizenry generally & they MUST be appalled by what is happening to their country. The soldiery below them SUICIDED as the number one cause of mortality during their Iraq service-- and continued to do so after leaving the military. The JCS must be wild to reestablish some basis of legitimacy to the military: Trained military men to whom arms can be made available and who begin to question the legitimacy of the goals of the power structure can theoretically be a danger to that structure.

Did the JCS send an intelligence report to the Obama administration indicating that if Assad's govt fell the extremists wd take over? Sure. Is there anyone who follows geopolitical events who DIDN'T know that? Are the JCS different than the corrupt generals of whom they are comprised? SOMEONE in the military was for the destruction of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria-- and for Full Spectrum Dominance, or failing that, chaos.

Do you not see that the DISAVOWAL of the JCS (via leak to Hersh) of the destruction of Syria is a recognition that the growing illegitimacy of the power structure is approaching critical mass in & out of the military? Or at least a troubling degree.

And Obama: Is he allied to the neocon-CIA faction, or does his faction want to lean towards less chaotic means to complete their global oligarchy? Like the continued growth of the integration of global monetary and trade relations. As these are removed from their purview sovereign states become less powerful-- and our votes with them. Even the monopoly on military force is being usurped; how difficult wd it be to switch US contractors directly to Soros; it's already being done on a small scale; but that's another story.

I already laid out months ago the specific actions Obama has taken to oppose the neocons-- re no-fly, undermining the Pentagon's "moderate" force, etc. JCS, according to Hersh, didn't have the power to stop the CIA's program, but DID have the ability to replace it? Huh? As proof of good intentions towards Assad they sent intelligence via ISRAEL? Gimme a break.

I personally believe that Russia & Iran are in Syria by agreement with Obama's faction because Obama lacks sufficient control over the US military to see that they destroy ISIS but not Assad. US didn't sanction Russia for going in, made no attempt to stop her. The fiction that this was defiance by Putin is for children. Whatever happened to that powerful 5th column that prevents Russia from issuing her own currency outside the control of the Fed/IMF system? The Duma voted unanimously to go into Syria. Some 5th column!

In my more cynical moments I think maybe permitting Russia back in the ME is a confidence-building measure, oligarch-to-oligarch: "See it's safe to enter the NWO w us. You can even have a greater presence in the ME to prove it." On the other hand, things cd be as they look on the surface & Obama's willingness to invite Russia in a mere feint to weaken Russia militarily. How do any of us know? Hoarsewhisperer was as close as anyone: It's CYA time for the JCS.

Posted by: Penelope | Dec 22, 2015 4:23:55 PM | 74

The Seymour Hersh article was amazing. I read that and thought - "now this is journalism!" granite his strength is also his weakness - that is, his ability to speculate by weaving probable connections together, thing is, he's usually right.

Posted by: Au | Dec 22, 2015 4:57:44 PM | 75

I attended a conference in D.C. a few months before the Kosovo War, in 1999, where, during the question session after the talks, a U.S. Army major stood up and said that he didn't want to fight on the side of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which was allied with bin Laden. I imagine the major's knowledge was widely shared in the U.S. military. Didn't stop the U.S. from going to war with Yugoslavia, however.

Posted by: lysias | Dec 22, 2015 5:09:05 PM | 76

Power-play is regional, not just Syria. The US with western powers and Israel want to break the axis Iran – Iraq – Syria – Lebanon (Heznollah). After peace talks between Israel and Palestinians failed, Obama focused on the nuclear deal with Iran. Obama knew he would get into trouble with KSA and Israel, so he opted for a Sunni state in the Levant with a united group of rebels (just label would be terrorists). See once again the role of Saudi Arabia with Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Qatar/Turkey supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

Obama can't be too pleased how Clinton handled Syria | Face the Nation - March 27, 2011 |

After Dempsey Warning, Israel May Curb War Threat | Sept. 2012 |

President Barack Obama’s explicit warning that he will not accept a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran may force Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step back from his ostensible threat of war.

Netanyahu had hoped that the Obama administration could be put under domestic political pressure during the election campaign to shift its policy on Iran to the much more confrontational stance that Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak have been demanding.

But that political pressure has not materialised, and Obama has gone further than ever before in warning Netanyahu not to expect U.S. backing in any war with Iran.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 22, 2015 5:58:54 PM | 77

This is what it looks like when a policy fails. All the criminals running for the exit screaming "I always said this wouldn't work!".

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 22, 2015 8:44:09 PM | 79

@Penelope@39

CarlD & Lone Wolf,
Re: your interest in how Samir Kuntar was killed.
This may be relevant, as a sort of rehearsal in general: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-12-04/israel-conducts-secret-training-exercises-against-russian-air-defense-systems

Thanks. What I am trying to find out for sure, is how he was killed. Al-Manar TV says airstrike, SANA says rocket attack. What is the true version? We have yet to learn. The deduction of responsibilities differs depending on the kind of attack, given the array of forces and interests in battleground Syria.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 22, 2015 9:09:25 PM | 80

"...according to Hersh's source, to undermine the White House's and CIA's regime-change program. They provided intelligence to Syria via Germany, Russia and Israel."

provided intelligence to syria via israel.

BSBSBS

makes me think the entire hersh piece is to redirect with some BS and possibilities from truth.

like daniel ellsberg covering the phoenix program by releasing the pentagon papers.

Posted by: bondo | Dec 22, 2015 10:13:55 PM | 81

u.s. military "accidentally" bombs syrian army positions.
u.s. military "accidentally" bombs iraqi army positions.
u.s. military "accidentally" resupplies isis - several times each week.
damn,
damn,
damn.

Posted by: bondo | Dec 22, 2015 10:58:43 PM | 82

tnx b.

Hersh's piece is of course propaganda, not published in the US because that's not where the target audience is. By injecting some strategic ambivalence, the propagandist hopes to influence advice given to Putin and his decision makers, to induce doubt, hesitation - or overconfidence and an overreaction. There's enough truth in it to make the disinformation believable. Russian fears, biases, fantasies re how the US works, it's all there. The writer isn't giving away secrets by admitting what everyone knows - there are always creative tensions between institutions and personalities. So what. The writer would like the target audience to believe the US military and civilian leadership are divided and working against eachother. Nonsense. The Chinese of course won't believe it for a minute, they can see how united the US in it's approach to the South China Sea. How irresponsible would it be for the writer to induce Beijing into escalating, in the belief the US was divided and weak? They won't. So why might the writer want Russia to escalate, and overreach?

The US strategic goal is the emerging markets of Asia, hence the pivot. They have to leave the ME to a balance of regional powers, while dividing the Russian Atlanticists from Putin's Eurasia lobby and preventing an alliance with Beijing. The more they can induce Putin to play in the US sandpit west of his own border, the more chance Russia becomes bogged down and loses focus on the east.

Doubtful Russia will be sucked in by this sort of stuff, but strategic ambivalence is always worthwhile creating.

Posted by: asia hand | Dec 22, 2015 11:37:26 PM | 83

Extract from the last paragraph of Hersh's article:

Obama now has a more compliant Pentagon. There will be no more indirect challenges from the military leadership to his policy of disdain for Assad and support for Erdoğan. Dempsey and his associates remain mystified by Obama’s continued public defence of Erdoğan, given the American intelligence community’s strong case against him – and the evidence that Obama, in private, accepts that case.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 23, 2015 1:23:04 AM | 84

@76 wow - I didn't know what was going on at the time and felt NATO was entirely justified.. 9/11 was my eye-opener, and it's been a doozy

Posted by: Refocus | Dec 23, 2015 2:59:54 AM | 85

@ 76 85

The rude Mr. Trump seems to be the candidate least likely to push the button for nuclear suicide of mankind. Much less likely than nice Mrs Clinton who could nuke Russia because Russians do not celebrate gay marriages. Remember, her nice husband bombed Belgrade because the nasty Serbs did not allow for the secession of Croats (or was it Albanians?)

http://www.unz.com/ishamir/putin-blues/

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 23, 2015 3:44:29 AM | 86

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 22, 2015 9:09:25 PM | 80

Simple logic. Syria has a reason to claim it was not an airstrike. Nasrallah has a reason to be seen speaking the truth - to the Israeli audience and his own.

Some stuff about it is strange: Neither Syria nor Hezbollah seem to be interested in talking about who lived in that building, who survived, who was pulled out of the rubble.

Most photographs except the Xinhua one are made from an angle pretending complete destruction.

Israel - not confirming and not denying - at the same time very keen to claim the assassination.

Something very strange about the "FSA" group claiming the assassination after Hezbollah had confirmed it and named Israel.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 23, 2015 3:53:33 AM | 87

Posted by: somebody | Dec 23, 2015 3:53:33 AM | 87

#Damascus suburb #Jaramana killing Palestinian terrorist.

See additional info posted in next thread - here.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 23, 2015 7:01:05 AM | 88

#83 I'm pretty sure there is a huge divide amongst generals / we the people / and the executive branch.. huge division easy to see on the republican debate stage.. To call Hersch's piece propaganda is disenginous - it may be speculation at times. I hardly believe the ME Caliphate is simply to distract Russia from a Chinese Alliance. it may serve to destabilize israeli neighbors, it was put in motion during the bush adm. look .. you make some basic points but you are speculating and making absolutely wild connections all while saying "hersh? yeah that guys full of shit, just propaganda, but see if you can swallow my theoretical bullshit. We can't. (wasn't hersh published in london - yea so essentially america.)

Posted by: Au | Dec 23, 2015 8:05:10 AM | 89

I think this is about one thing only: trying to redeem the US military. If there is one thing you need to understand about the US military as a non-American, it is this: in the eyes of the public, soldiers must be considered sacred and above reproach. It is a literal blasphemy to criticize the military. To say that OUR military has been complicit in supporting ISIS/alQaeda and other terrorist organizations is really unthinkable in the minds of the public here. They are saints and cannot be criticized.

On the other hand, we have the expectation that spies (CIA) are dirty, it's part of the mainstream culture that they can and will do whatever. But the military has a face, and it is ourselves, our sons and daughters. They CAN'T be terrorists.

Posted by: cahaba | Dec 23, 2015 6:07:00 PM | 90

@ 90 cahaba.. i think you are likely correct in your comments in the first paragraph.. as a non american, i get the line " It is a literal blasphemy to criticize the military." in your post..

what i don't get is the level of ignorance in the american public.. i know there are many bright people in the usa, as there are in all countries... the 2nd link in john's post @14 ought to be a wake up call to ordinary americans.. the messengers who provide these types of insights are typically thrown in jail and pilloried by the msm.. the "troops" are always above reproach.. as johns bottom link @14 attests to, they're not, but lets just shut that information line down or claim it doesn't exist.. i wish it was different and folks could maintain their idealism, but they need to come to terms with reality and the military types often give off the vibe of being the least receptive to this in spite of damning evidence that flies in the face of their idealism.

Posted by: james | Dec 23, 2015 7:36:48 PM | 91

Posted by: cahaba | Dec 23, 2015 6:07:00 PM | 90

Those are all worthwhile points to make. However, it seems bizarre that AmeriKKKans seem neither to know, nor care, that US soldiers are revered before the battle, then abandoned and neglected by their govt when they return home, spent and dysfunctional.
Soldiers returning to the US from the Vietnam SNAFU were (I gather) reviled by the Public. I've also heard that more Iraq(?) Veterans have become casualties of suicide than the battlefield.

But I suspect that you're onto something worthy of methodical analysis and speculation on the mechanism responsible for the disconnect between pre- and post-war public attitudes to soldiers.

Of course, the simple explanation is that war is good for the cowardly, greedy, hypocritical 1% who own most of "our" cowardly, greedy, hypocritical politicians (and think tanks). But there's probably a more sophisticated answer than that.
Then again, maybe not.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 24, 2015 11:28:05 AM | 92

in this Democracy Now interview http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/22/seymour_hershs_latest_bombshell_us_military / Hersh makes some points suggesting that he is less interested in the 'bombshell' story than image control issues. Like putting forth the absurd idea that it was the Pentagon that reversed the situation in Syria, not Putin, but also to obfuscate Israeli support for the war on ASsad. HE claims the intelligence was communicated to the Assad via the Russians the Germans and Israel ?! "With Israel being on the margin on this, understood that if Assad went what comes next would not be healthy for Israel. They share a border with Syria, and you don't want IS or al-nusra to be next to Israelis, that would be a national security threat. "

Posted by: vgohome | Dec 24, 2015 4:10:17 PM | 93

@dagon#15:

"There are ghost empty new cities and camps in northern jordan at the boarder of syria with lots of foreign people running around .At the time I laughed it off.Now we know."

It's a good reminder of the situation Obama inherited when he took office in 2009. By the time Hersh wrote the Redirection in 2007, Bush had decided to pull back from the direct military plans for the broader middle east favored by the neocon faction in his government: he refused to sign off on the attack of Iran, he gave Gates free reign to clear some of the Christian Zionist ideologues from the upper ranks of the Pentagon. Even so, many of the destabilization programs of the State Department and CIA continued on a PNAC track. In addition, congress had passed several pieces of AIPAC-penned legislation that boxed-in the Executive's range of choices in the Middle East, such as the Syria Accountability Act and the office in Treasury that censures "State-Sponsors of Terrorism" (according to Israel's definitions). The cabinet secretaries that Obama was able to get approved did not discontinue any of these programs -- in the case of Clinton, they were fervently embraced (which has served her well with her Zionist mega-donors).

Obama accepted bad advice from Clinton, Powers and Rice on Libya and Syria and now he can't admit he was wrong (and while he has shown a willingness to throw friends under the bus, he is unlikely to do so to Rice -- whom he considers almost a sister). This is especially the case when the criticism Americans hear about his middle east policies come from the Republicans and Zionist Democrats in congress and the hawkish press, not from the Left or the Democratic base.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 26, 2015 9:46:21 PM | 95

The majority of the Hersh piece is useful information, but as others have noted about the JCS allegedly passing information through Israel for Assad, his sources should be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Dec 26, 2015 9:49:32 PM | 96

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