Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 07, 2017

Hearsay Extrapolated - Amnesty Claims Mass Executions In Syria, Provides Zero Proof

A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction style writing from its title "Human Slaughterhouse" down to the last paragraph.

But the Amnesty report is still not propagandish enough for the anti-Syrian media. Inevitably only the highest number in the range Amnesty claims is quoted. For some even that is not yet enough. The Associate Press agency, copied by many outlets, headlines: Report: At least 13,000 hanged in Syrian prison since 2011:

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian authorities have killed at least 13,000 people since the start of the 2011 uprising in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known to detainees as "the slaughterhouse," Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday.

How does "at least 13,000" conforms to an already questionable report which claims "13,000" as the top number of a very wide range?

Here is a link to the report.

Before we look into some details this from the "Executive Summary":

From December 2015 to December 2016, Amnesty International researched the patterns, sequence and scale of violations carried out at Saydnaya Military Prison (Saydnaya). In the course of this investigation, the organization interviewed 31 men who were detained at Saydnaya, four prison officials or guards who previously worked at Saydnaya, three former Syrian judges, three doctors who worked at Tishreen Military Hospital, four Syrian lawyers, 17 international and national experts on detention in Syria and 22 family members of people who were or still are detained at Saydnaya.
On the basis of evidence from people who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya and witness testimony from detainees, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.

There are several difficulties with this report.

1. Most of the witnesses are identified as opposition figures and "former" officials who do not live in Syria. Some are said to have been remotely interviewed in Syria but it is not clear if those were living in government or insurgent held areas. Page 9:

The majority of these interviews took place in person in southern Turkey. The remaining interviews were conducted by telephone or through other remote means with interviewees still in Syria, or with individuals based in Lebanon, Jordan, European countries and the USA.

It is well known that the Syrian insurgency is financed with several billion dollars per years from foreign state governments. It runs sophisticated propaganda operations. These witnesses all seem to have interests in condemning the Syrian government. Not once is an attempt made to provide a possibly divergent view. Amnesty found the persons it questioned by contacting international NGOs like itself and known foreign financed opposition (propaganda) groups:

These groups include Urnammu for Justice and Human Rights, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the Syrian Institute for Justice and Accountability.

2. The numbers Amnesty provides are in a very wide range. None are documented in lists or similar exhibits. They are solely based on hearsay and guesstimates of two witnesses:

People who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya told Amnesty International that extrajudicial executions related to the crisis in Syria first began in September 2011. Since that time, the frequency with which they have been carried out has varied and increased. For the first four months, it was usual for between seven and 20 people to be executed every 10-15 days. For the following 11 months, between 20 and 50 people were executed once a week, usually on Monday nights. For the subsequent six months, groups of between 20 and 50 people were executed once or twice a week, usually on Monday and/or Wednesday nights. Witness testimony from detainees suggests that the executions were conducted at a similar – or even higher – rate at least until December 2015. Assuming that the death rate remained the same as the preceding period, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.

From "between x and y", "once or twice a week", "suggests" and "assuming" the headline numbers are simply extrapolated in footnote 40 in a  back-of-the-envelope calculation; "If A were true then B would be X":

These estimates were based on the following calculations. If between seven and 20 were killed every 10-15 days from September to December 2011, the total figure would be between 56 people and 240 people for that period. If between 20 and 50 were killed every week between January and November 2012, the total figure would be between 880 and 2,200 for that period. If between 20 and 50 people were killed in 222 execution sessions (assuming the executions were carried out twice a week twice a month and once a week once a month) between December 2012 and December 2015, the total figure would be between 4,400 and 11,100 for that period. These calculations produce a minimum figure of 5,336, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 5,000, and 13,540, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 13,000.

2. I will not go into the details of witness statements on which the report is build. They seem at least exaggerated and are not verifiable at all. In the end it is pure hearsay on which Amnesty sets it conclusions. One example from page 25:

“Hamid”, a former military officer when he was arrested in 2012, recalled the sounds he heard at night during an execution:
"There was a sound of something being pulled out – like a piece of wood, I’m not sure – and then you would hear the sound of them being strangled… If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes… We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then."

A court might accept 'sound of "I'm not sure" "kind of gurgling" noise through concrete' as proof that a shower was running somewhere. But as proof of executions?

Of all the witnesses Amnesty says it interviewed only two, a former prison official and a former judge, who describe actual executions (page 25). From the wording of their statements it is unclear if they have witnessed any hangings themselves or just describe something they have been told of.

3. The numbers of people Amnesty claims were executed are - at best - a wild ass guess. How come that Amnesty can name only very few of those? On page 30 of its report it says:

Former detainees from the red building at Saydnaya provided Amnesty International with the names of 59 individuals who they witnessed being taken from their cells in the afternoon, being told that they were being transferred to civilian prisons in Syria. The evidence contained in this report strongly suggests that in fact, these individuals were extrajudicially executed.


Former prison guards and a former prison official from Saydnaya also provided Amnesty International with the names of 36 detainees who had been extrajudicially executed in Saydnaya since 2011.

Those 95, some of whom may have been "executed" - or not, are the only ones Amnesty claims to be able to name. That is less than 1-2% of the reports central claim of 5,000 to 13,000 executed. All those witnesses could provide no more details of persons allegedly killed?

Amnesty acknowledges that its numbers are bogus. Under the headline "Documented Deaths" on page 40 it then adds additional names and numbers to those above but these are not from executions:

the exact number of deaths in Saydnaya is impossible to specify. However, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has verified and shared with Amnesty International the names of 375 individuals who have died in Saydnaya as a result of torture and other ill-treatment between March 2011 and October 2016. Of these, 317 were civilians at the time of their arrest, 39 were members of the Syrian military and 19 were members of non-state armed groups. In the course of the research for this report, Amnesty International obtained the names of 36 additional individuals who died as a result of torture and other ill-treatment in Saydnaya. These names were provided to Amnesty International by former detainees who witnessed the deaths in their cells

The "Syrian Network for Human Rights" (SNHR) is a group in the UK probably connected to British foreign intelligence and with dubious monetary sources. It only says:

SNHR funds its work and activities through unconditional grants and donations from individuals and institutions.

Now that is true transparency.

SNHR is known for rather ridiculous claims about casualties caused by various sides of the conflict. It is not know what SNHR qualifies as civilians - do these include armed civil militia? But note that none of the mostly civilians SNHR claims to have died in the prison are said to have been executed. How is it possible that a organization frequently quoted in the media as detailed source of casualties in Syria has no record of the 5,000 to 13,000 Amnesty claims were executed?

4. The report is padded up with before/after satellite pictures of enlarged graveyards in Syria. It claims that these expansions are a sign of mass graves of government opponents.  But there is zero evidence for that. Many people have died in Syria throughout the war on all sides of the conflict. The enlargement, for example, of the Martyrs Cemetery south of Damascus (p.29/30) is hardly a sign of mass killing of anti-government insurgents. Would those be honored as martyrs by the government side?

5. The report talks of "extrajudicially executed" prisoners but then describes (military) court procedures and a necessary higher up approval of the judgement. One may not like the laws that govern the Syrian state but the courts and the procedures Amnesty describes seem to follow Syrian laws and legal processes. They are thereby - by definition - not extrajudicial.

6. In its Executive Summary the Amnesty report says that "Death sentences are approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria and ...". But there is no evidence provided of "approval" by the Grand Mufti in the details of the report. On page 19 it claims, based on two former prison and court officials:

The judgement is sent by military post to the Grand Mufti of Syria and to either the Minister of Defence or the Chief of Staff of the Army, who are deputized to sign for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and who specify the date of the execution.

It is very doubtful that the Syrian government would "deputize" or even inform the Grand Mufti in cases of military or criminal legal proceedings. Amnesty International may dislike the fact but Syria is a secular state. The Grand Mufti in Syria is a civil legal authority for some followers of the Sunni Muslim religion in Syria but he has no official judiciary role. From the 2010 Swiss dissertation Models of Religious Freedom: Switzerland, the United States, and Syria quoted here:

In Syria a mufti is a legal and religious expert (faqih and ‘alim) who has the power to give legally non-binding recommendations (sing. fatwa, pl. fatawa) in matters of Islamic law.
Queries which are either sought by a shari‘a judge or private individuals regard the personal status laws of the Muslim community only. In the Arab Republic fatawa are given neither to public authorities nor to individual civil servants, ..

Neither the Syrian constitution nor any Syrian law I can find refers to a role of the Grand Mufti in any military or civil criminal court proceding. The Amnesty claim "approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria"is not recorded anywhere else. It is very likely false. The Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, is a moderate, recognized and accomplished scholar. He should sue Amnesty for this slander.

Syrian law includes a death penalty for certain severe and violent crimes. Before 2011 actual executions in Syria were very rare, most death sentences were commuted. Allegedly the laws were amended in late 2011, after the war in Syria had started, to include the death penalty as possible punishment for directly arming terrorists.

It is quite likely that the Syrian military and/or civil judiciary hand out some death penalties against captured foreign and domestic "rebels" it finds them guilty of very severe crimes. It is fighting the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other extreme groups well known for mass murder and other extreme atrocities. It is likely that some of those sentences are applied. But the Syrian government has also provided amnesty to ten-thousands of "rebels" who fought the government but have laid down their arms.

The claims in the Amnesty report are based on spurious and biased opposition accounts from outside of the country. The headline numbers of 5,000 to 13,000 are calculated on the base of unfounded hypotheticals. The report itself states that only 36 names of allegedly executed persons are known to Amnesty, less than the number of "witnesses" Amnesty claims to have interviewed. The high number of claimed execution together with the very low number of names is not plausible.

The report does not even meet the lowest mark of scientific or legal veracity. It is pure biased propaganda.

Note: An earlier version of this piece mixed up the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Both are registered in the UK and claim to provide accurate casualty data from Syria. Only SNHR is referenced in this Amnesty report.

Posted by b on February 7, 2017 at 04:41 AM | Permalink

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While many of us believe in "human rights" and morality those in political power on all sides do not recognize that except, of course, rhetorically for propaganda purposes. Those in power go by the laws of politics that are well documented and show relatively little improvement over those that were in place during ancient times. I don't know if the accusations are accurate or not but certainly if Assad felt those executions made sense he would have done so without batting an eye as his father would have done even worse. On the other hand the whole alleged gas attack a few years ago was clearly untrue since it offered the Assad gov't a tone of trouble and no advantage. There are no "good guys" in any of this, not Obama, not Putin, not Trump, not Assad not the WaPost or any of the other monsters who spout propaganda 24/7 on the left, right and center.

Without accepting and understanding that war, assassination, intrigue, plots & conspiracies, mass killing, torture and so on are all part of politics not as exceptions but as rules then we can understand nothing about what is going on. And, just so you know, morality is the job of the people--when they are more moral their politicians will follow but only a little. Assad does what he has to do to maintain power--his cause, at this point, is worth supporting for historical, moral and strategic reasons. An Assad regime is better than all alternatives, clearly.

Posted by: Banger | Feb 8, 2017 12:35:16 PM | 101

The Death Rattle of the BE/US Coalition

As U.S. tensions with Iran rose last week, 17 ships from the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Australia launched a major war game just 50 miles from the Iranian coast.

Smack dab in the middle of the gulf, the ships steamed together in wedge formation in the first iteration of the exercise dubbed “Unified Trident.”

HMS Ocean, a British amphibious assault ship carrying about 750 personnel, 150 of them Royal Marines, led the way.

About 500 yards behind was the French destroyer FS Forbin, and about 500 yards behind was the U.S. destroyer USS Mahan. Another 500 yards behind was the Australian destroyer HMAS Arunta. Each carried about 300 sailors.

Another destroyer, an Aegis cruiser, a supply ship, mine sweepers, patrol boats, and Coast Guard cutters made up the flanks.

Posted by: ALberto | Feb 8, 2017 12:58:18 PM | 102

Here it comes ...

White House weighs designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group

Includes Lebanon?

9-11-2001 the gift that keeps on giving

Posted by: ALberto | Feb 8, 2017 1:08:28 PM | 103

Remember those phony drawings of Bin Laden's supposed hideout in the Tora Bora mountains? How those pics were used to inflame Americans into a rage, demanding revenge for 9/11? And how the hideouts were never found?

Deja Vu all over again, this time the Syrian people are in our sights. As soon as Trump is removed, VP and Christian Zio-zealot Pence will bring down the wrath of the Pentagon on Syria and Iran.

May God help us all, since most Americans seem devoid of common sense, compassion or even sympathy.

Posted by: Greg Bacon | Feb 8, 2017 1:09:31 PM | 104

Amnesty is financed by Soros and by the UK government - and is about as honest as those two. No at all unexpected. Pretty obvious bid to derail potential US-Russia cooperation.

Posted by: telescope | Feb 8, 2017 1:44:05 PM | 105

Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Amnesty Internation report on Syria: a response from a Syrian dissident (former political prisoner living in Europe)

"I asked a well-known Syrian dissident who, due to his leftist underground activities, served years in Syrian jails and was subjected to torture by the regime. His name is Nizar Nayouf."

Posted by: inohuri | Feb 8, 2017 2:12:33 PM | 106

I was going to quote the Angry Arab's exchange with Nayouf, but inohuri got in first. It's a pretty detailed account and quite convincing. Confirms pretty much what I thought @17. There were killings, and torture, but nowhere near 13,000. It'a physically impossible in that building.

Posted by: Laguerre | Feb 8, 2017 4:54:07 PM | 107

anyone who trusts Amnesty Intl is a fool and a schmuck. there latest report on Saidnaya prison should make them recall their report on Zainab al0-Hosni AjroudSyria: Reports regarding Zainab al-Hosni, which they were later forced to recant
5 October 2011, 00:00 UTC

Amnesty International said today:

"We have seen that reports have been aired on Syrian TV suggesting that Zainab al-Hosni is alive. We are currently looking into this case, working with trusted sources."

"This has clearly raised questions over the information that Amnesty International released on 23 September about the death of Zainab al-Hosni and the discovery of a body at Homs Military Hospital. That statement was based on information provided by sources close to the incident itself, who passed Amnesty International video footage of a dismembered body. If the body was not that of Zainab al-Hosni, then clearly the Syrian authorities need to disclose whose it was, the cause and circumstances of the death, and why Zainab al-Hosni's family were informed that she was the victim."

"We are working to establish the exact circumstances of this case and to clarify the situation of Zainab herself. As ever this task is made more difficult by the fact that we – like other human rights organizations – have been unable to access Syria, despite our repeated requests to the government, to fully investigate cases like these. We will release more comprehensive information as soon as we are able; the situation is far from clear at this stage.

Posted by: brian | Feb 8, 2017 4:55:55 PM | 108

more OT - bhadrakumar on Trump hails Turkey as strategic partner, NATO ally

Posted by: james | Feb 8, 2017 5:20:39 PM | 109

Good catch on the claims about the Grand Mufti issuing approval for executions--seemed odd when I skimmed through the PDF. But I didn't chase it down.

Another problem with the Amnesty report: The entire first half is filled with massive repetitions, it looks like padding out the page count.

I too had wondered about the disconnect between the photos of more graves and how such photos proved that those in the graves were executed by the Syrian government.

Posted by: Jay | Feb 8, 2017 5:21:11 PM | 110


What does the purported abortion rate in NYC, which you've not backed up with a link, have to do with this Amnesty International report's thin documentation.

Want to reduce abortions, then stop treating women's wombs+sexuality as things to be controlled, improve access to safe contraception, improve sex education starting in grade school for both sexes. People have sex, including teenagers, if they know about contraception and how pregnancy occurs, unwanted pregnancies are massively reduced.

Posted by: Jay | Feb 8, 2017 5:25:53 PM | 111

A photo of some US Special Forces in Mosul. The dude in the center is sporting a fine Porn Star 'tache.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 8, 2017 7:24:27 PM | 112

well of course Assad tortured people
that is where usa sent people to be tortured, people that were kidnapped by CIA off streets in many places, most famously Italy

Posted by: mauisurfer | Feb 8, 2017 8:03:38 PM | 113

We should check what Amnesty International Corp. has to do with what is going on in Haiti, Syria, Libya, Mexico, etc. etc.

Posted by: Save the Children | Feb 8, 2017 10:32:42 PM | 114

Take this as worth looking at:

Posted by: rg the lg | Feb 8, 2017 11:59:14 PM | 115

Have u seen this HRW report?
Kenneth Roth has outdone himself in his lies for syria:

Posted by: Leila | Feb 9, 2017 12:13:58 AM | 116

The document has all the hallmarks patterns and directions of other 'atrocity' type reports built from hearsay, creating numbers from the fog of war. Smacks of 'perception management' IIO. The use of the words 'extermination program' clearly identify source.

Posted by: rm | Feb 9, 2017 1:04:56 AM | 117

Banger 100 writes: if Assad felt those executions made sense he would have done so without batting an eye as his father

o but one big "if". However, the point of the post is that there is yet again (where Syria is concerned) no reliable evidence supporting the claim of 5 to 13K executions. In fact, the entire story can be most simply explained as a big propaganda effort by Jihadists. In addition, there are internal contradictions in the story that simply do not make sense, as outlined here by b and the Angry Arab.

Therefore there is no reason at all to speculate about why Assad might be morally capable of carrying out such an atrocity.

Posted by: ToivoS | Feb 9, 2017 3:54:10 AM | 118

Mauisurfer @ 112:

Excuse me but the imam kidnapped by the CIA in Italy was sent to Egypt for renditioning.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 9, 2017 6:56:26 AM | 119

I should think the truly remarkable aspect of the Amnesty International report is that it is such a sloppy effort that it was shot down by MoA and others faster than we can say "garbage in, garbage out". It must surely have been a rushed job, released because there are currently talks in Astana over Syria's future, Tulsi Gabbard has just returned from Syria where she spoke to civilians about their experiences and what they think of the war, and the Trump government actually seems determined to fight ISIS first, rather than the Assad government.

Somebody or some government somewhere must be panicking.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 9, 2017 7:11:18 AM | 120

well of course Assad tortured people
that is where usa sent people to be tortured, people that were kidnapped by CIA off streets in many places, most famously Italy
Posted by: mauisurfer | Feb 8, 2017 8:03:38 PM | 112

I've heard that drivel too.
But all the sources I can find are either Colonial Christian liars or Neocon liars.
What's your source?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9, 2017 8:44:09 AM | 121

Posted by: ToivoS | Feb 9, 2017 3:54:10 AM | 117

When you really read the Angry Arab post to the end his source says this

What the report says about the kinds of mistreatment and torture and criminality is generally true. The world has not seen more savage prisons than the 18 prisons of the Iraqi (Saddamist) and Syrian prisons since the times of Nazism and Fascism in WWII. And anything which is reported in this context can be simply believed. We have seen it with our own eyes and lived it personally, although there were orders to--to be fair--that the torture of leftists and nationalists be less severe than the savage torture of Islamists.

There is a difference in saying that bombing and subverting a people under the pretext of liberation is a crime and another violation of human rights to claiming the dictator is the best solution and his adversaries are wrong.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 9, 2017 8:51:35 AM | 122

inohuri 105
Thanks for the angryarab source. I keep forgetting to check it out.

Brian 107
AI making sensationalized repots as fact but then backtrack and make the excuse that they do not have access to Syria and blame the Syrian Govt. They discredit themselves!

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 9, 2017 9:08:46 AM | 123

@120 I'm filing it with the Kuwait/babies/incubators story. Very clumsy. It won't generate the required outrage. Not only that a lot of people....shocking truth alert....couldn't care less anymore about how many Syrians get killed or who does the killing.

Posted by: dh | Feb 9, 2017 9:21:22 AM | 124

Posted by: somebody | Feb 9, 2017 8:51:35 AM | 122

Xymphora flagged Angry Arab as a lite Zionist at least 5 years ago. It's ALWAYS a revelation when Nazism & Fascism are deployed as means of damning an enemy-of-convenience with faint praise. On the other hand it's amusingly clumsy when one lite Zionist cites another in order to add 'realism' to a fairy tale.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9, 2017 9:23:02 AM | 125

More debunk:

"However, there is another aspect of the report that remains unexplored - the fact that Amnesty International itself has openly admitted that the summation of the report was fabricated in the United Kingdom at Amnesty International's office, using a process they call "forensic architecture," in which the lack of actual, physical, photographic, and video evidence, is replaced by 3D animations and sound effects created by designers hired by Amnesty International."

Posted by: ruralito | Feb 9, 2017 10:19:45 AM | 126


"...In fact since advent of digital imagery a photo (video) lost its remaining fiduciary qualities meaning photo is no longer any evidence of the reality portrayed in the photograph. In analog times photo forgeries have been either extremely costly or difficult or they were easily spotted by experts in photography, not anymore..."

This is an extremely important adjunct to b's analysis above. As we once were 'taken in' by the smooth talking neo cons and liberals (how could they be lying? Look at their impeccably honest demeanor!), so too now, it is video which has to be equally suspect. I just saw the latest 'Star Wars' movie with my sons - any illusion can be seamlessly propogated and propagandized. In movies we know it is fake, and yet immersed in the illusion we are taken into the drama - we should and do marvel at the creativity but we should not ever suppose it to be real.

I feel blessed that I can no longer watch videos online. Text is better, and I praise Donald Trump for writing a letter to the Chinese leadership. I value text much, much higher than even a phone call, where emotions can override rationality. Well done, Mr. Trump. I hope the Chinese appreciate this as well - I am sure, as sagacious as they are, they will. Phone calls can often be misinterpreted; a letter shows respect.

Posted by: juliania | Feb 9, 2017 10:27:54 AM | 127

ms @ 112: Yes, I've read that too. If true, Assad wouldn't be the first to cooperate with the U$A, then fall into disfavor and become the victim of regime change.

Posted by: ben | Feb 9, 2017 10:34:38 AM | 128

Democracy Now put on a long segment this morning, interviewing one of the AI report's authors, and showing the made-up video.

I sent them a copy of this article, and copies of the Francis Boyle article and of the response from the former prisoner As'ad AbuKhalil.

We'll see what response there will be, if any.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Feb 9, 2017 10:52:31 AM | 129

I'm sorry, AlBerto but I won't be reading any of your posts.
That goes for anyone who now knowingly wrecks these
chat forums. Enough already.

If you did this innocently, you can no doubt return using
a different moniker. You've been posting here a while,
though, so I think you knew what you were doing.

Posted by: juliania | Feb 9, 2017 10:53:45 AM | 130

@115 Leila
Yeah wow... Kenny Roth at it again, doing a little 'show and tell' from his Grade 6 Creative Writing Class last Tuesday...some serious headchopper fan fiction going on there. 23 years storytelling at HRW, Joe Stalin would be proud.

Anyone who enjoys watching a one man clown show get exposed, have a look at Prof Stephen Cohen vs Roth late last year on democracy now...HRW in need of regime change after that bit of professional suicide.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Feb 9, 2017 10:57:22 AM | 131

>>>> Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9, 2017 9:23:02 AM | 125

Xymphora flagged Angry Arab as a lite Zionist at least 5 years ago

What is a lite Zionist? Someone who's not anti-semitic enough for Xymphora?

To suggest that the Angry Arab is a Zionist is ridiculous.

Posted by: Ghostship | Feb 9, 2017 10:57:28 AM | 132

Assad was definitely the go-to guy for western intelligence agencies wanting "enhanced interrogation" in the early 2000s. Like Saddam, he was a friend long before he was an enemy. Maher Arrar's case is an example of a rendition brought about by cooperation of the RCMP and FBI.

I have no idea if the AI report has any validity but the outpouring of outrage about the impugning of Assad's character is specious and self-serving. The guy is not a fucking boy scout and never has been.

Posted by: peter | Feb 9, 2017 11:00:03 AM | 133

What is a lite Zionist? Someone who's not anti-semitic enough for Xymphora?
To suggest that the Angry Arab is a Zionist is ridiculous.
Posted by: Ghostship | Feb 9, 2017 10:57:28 AM | 133

I haven't seen Xymph's formal definition of lite Zionism, but he refers to any completely insane Zionist as a "blood dripping from the fangs" Zionist, which is understandable given the number of dead and maimed Palestinian children the Israel Project has 'necessitated' over 70+ years (as if you didn't know).
Btw, antisemitism is what Jews, who are not semitic, do to Palestinians, who are.

The occasion on which Xymphora pointed out Angry Arab's lite Zionist tendencies involved 'moral equivalence' of the pro-Israel variety - i.e. sympathetic to one or another aspect of Israel's (immoral/illegal) Piece Process.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9, 2017 11:43:23 AM | 134

@120 jen.. thanks and thanks for your posts in general..

@122 somebody (trying to further mauisurfers line of thinking).. sorry somebody, but as others here have pointed out, the usa was quite happy to work with assad until they weren't.. it's the usa that changed in all this regime change biz and no AI report of 5-13g dead in a prison is going to change any of it..that is more propaganda cannon fodder for the ignorant. for the record, no one here is for ugly dictators either, but i am even less for lying gov'ts that don't give a shit about any of this in their constantly changing game plans on syria.. take the AI report and ram it up the 'regime change' folks ass - that is where it needs to go..

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2017 11:57:10 AM | 135

ditto peter @134..

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2017 11:58:15 AM | 136

Syria is still in the cross hairs of the same gangsters behind 9/11 and the global banking crisis, who want to turn the entire planet into a global plantation, with us peons working for slave wages while the 1% live like royals.
Israel and the central banksters want Assad gone and what they want, they usually get.

Posted by: Greg Bacon | Feb 9, 2017 12:24:02 PM | 137

re 135 and preceding

Xymphora flagged Angry Arab as a lite Zionist at least 5 years ago.

That is ridiculous. The Angry Arab is not any sort of Zionist. I've met him personally, and exchanged with him frequently. He just dislikes and distrusts the Ba'thists as much as the rebels. He's the sort of person who dislikes everybody (except the Palestinians, and that I suspect, is only theoretically). It's surprising that he has survived the frequent Israeli attempts to get him out of his associate professorship. He must have got tenure before he got up the nose of the Zionists.

Posted by: Laguerre | Feb 9, 2017 12:25:35 PM | 138

Posted by: Laguerre | Feb 9, 2017 12:25:35 PM | 139
(Angry Arab is not any sort of Zionist)

A few of the entities in Xymphora's BlogRoll have earned themselves the epithet Lite Zionist, without being struck off. Maybe it's just a 'keep 'em honest' type warning. However, when I was a regular commentator there, he flung it at a few people and in each case, considering the degree of carelessness involved in the meme which attracted the label, it was quite justified.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9, 2017 12:57:14 PM | 139

When it comes to executions/torture, NONE of these new despots could even touch Henry Kissinger and his stooges. Which begs question:

Posted by: baadmoonrising | Feb 9, 2017 1:00:08 PM | 140

History, let's like ;) it.

‘Caesar’ with his ‘the C. torture photos’ emerged on 20 Jan. 2014, 2 days before Syria negotiations in CH were to begin.

C. was supposedly a defector from the Syrian Army. The claim is that the d-base contains 55,000 photos testifiying to 11,000 deaths
care of the Assad regime (this no. has morphed into 13 000). Ex:

BBC, Jan 2014.

AI in their March 2016 report, referred to the C. torture photos:

"These provided the strongest evidence yet of systematic torture and extrajudicial executions
taking place inside government detention centres, opening the world’s eyes to the ruthless tactics used to punish those
who dare to oppose the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Tens of thousands remain missing after being arrested..…”

Many ppl have analysed, tracked, etc. Here is one page ex. (parts of the set can be easily found, maybe even the complete):

Other, different ex. from the Syrian Solidarity Network:

C. testified in the US at the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee. (July 2014, goog.)

It was Carter-Ruck who was hired to authenticate - contracted by Qatar - this pile of garbage.
The photos belong to SAFMCD (goog.) This last info comes from:

The actual figure from the latest AI report (see top post), who refer to their buddies:

“According to the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, at least 17,723 people were killed in government custody
between March 2011 and December 2015, an average of 300 deaths each month.”

AI no longer mentions the C photos, because these have been debunked!

Anyone interested should watch the link, thought AI just published cough cough "sober reports"?

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 9, 2017 1:15:29 PM | 141

somebody | Feb 9, 2017 8:51:35 AM | 122

Oh please cut the self righteous crap. No reasonable person denies that Syria engaged in torture even on the behalf of the US. This one wiki describes the horror show that illustrates Syrian justice. One reason that the Syrian regime was totally isolated from international progressive support in 2011 is because of this behavior.

What has happened since is that even if the tyrannical Syrian regime was willing to work with the CIA in that torture program, the US turned against them because of Israel. The US and Israel along with the Saudis built up a Wahabbi inspired Islamist opposition to punish Syria even if they were willing to provide their torture chambers for their use.

What has happened since is that the alternative provided by the US/Israel/Saudi axis is even worse than the horrors of the Assad regime. Today we have to choose from two evils -- back the Russian supported Assad regime or support the latest incarnation of western imperialism attempting to control the levant.

Posted by: ToivoS | Feb 9, 2017 2:25:20 PM | 142

@142 noirette.. excellent breakdown for everyone here.. thanks..

@143 toivo... yes and regarding your last paragraph especially.. those are the stark choices.. go for the continued horror inflicted on all syrians thanks this unholy alliance of usa-sa-gccs-israel, or support the people of syria, by staying the fuck out of syria... if that means supporting assad - so be it.. it is a far better choice then supporting wall st, and the military industrial complex which is what some folks unintentionally are doing with their superficial judgement calls on the way to go forward here.. AI report is pure propaganda meant to support the later..

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2017 2:36:07 PM | 143

re 146. There's a bit of realism entering here. The Ba'thists are not nice, but not to the extent of 13,000. However jihadism is much worse. That's why the Asad mafia (and they are a mafia) have to be supported.

Posted by: Laguerre | Feb 9, 2017 3:03:02 PM | 144

Came across Amnesty report 6-days ago, stunned and cannot believe Dr. Assad is that barbaric and inhumane.

Posted by: OSJ | Feb 7, 2017 5:44:31 AM | 7

he isnt

Posted by: brian | Feb 9, 2017 5:59:34 PM | 145

It seems Amnesty recruited a so-called 'Forensic Architecture' outfit to create the whole thing.

"In a unique collaboration, Amnesty International has teamed up with "Forensic Architecture" of Goldsmiths, University of London, to reconstruct both the sound and architecture of Saydnaya prison, and to do it using cutting-edge digital technology to create a model."

The outfit is run by one Eyal Weizman, and the website states:

"Forensic Architecture is a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London. It includes a team of architects, scholars, filmmakers, designers, lawyers and scientists to undertake research that gathers and presents spatial analysis in legal and political forums.

We provide evidence for international prosecution teams, political organisations, NGOs, and the United Nations in various processes worldwide. Additionally, the agency undertakes historical and theoretical examinations of the history and present status of forensic practices in articulating notions of public truth."

I.e. the created 'forensic architecture' is nothing more than Hollywood cgi, and has the same level of authenticity. It is created to mirror whatever 'truth' the clients want.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 9, 2017 6:31:57 PM | 146

Excellent analysis.

Posted by: Toxik | Feb 9, 2017 11:14:35 PM | 147

It is unnecessary to prove that Christian Colonialism's lies about their enemies of convenience are bullshit. They've been found to be lying so often that even forgetfulness and gullibility are no excuse for taking them seriously.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 10, 2017 7:27:52 AM | 148

I guess other nations should have supported armed regime change in the US long time ago...

For Decades, Chicago Police Used City Jails as Torture Chambers

Posted by: ProPeace | Feb 11, 2017 10:17:38 AM | 149

Who is behind the Amnesty sham report?

Amnesty International Stokes Syrian War

The co-author of this Amnesty International report is Nicolette Waldman (Boehland), who was uncritically interviewed on DemocracyNow on Feb. 9. The background and previous work of Waldman shows the inter-connections between influential Washington “think tanks” and the billionaires’ foundations that fund “non-governmental organizations” – NGOs – that claim to be independent but are clearly not.

Waldman previously worked for the “Center for Civilians in Conflict,” which is directed by leaders from George Soros’s Open Society, the Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, Blackrock Solutions and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

CNAS may be the most significant indication of political orientation since it is led by Michele Flournoy, who was expected to become Secretary of Defense if Hillary Clinton had won the election. CNAS has been a leading force behind neoconservative and liberal-interventionist plans to escalate the war in Syria. While past work or associations do not always define new or future work, in this case the sensational and dubious accusations seem to align with those political goals. [Soros’s Open Society has also provided funds to Amnesty International.]

Posted by: b | Feb 12, 2017 8:55:33 AM | 150

Crab: Ah well! I can dream.
Crab: With Carla Scream
Mary Jane Watson: (Screaming)
Crab: Ah well! I can dream with Carla Scream.
Mary Jane: (Screaming)
Crab: Ah well! I can dream.
Crab: With Carla
Crab: Scream
Mary Jane Watson: (Screaming)
Crab: Ah well! I can dream with Carla.
Crab: Scream
Mary Jane: (Screaming)

Posted by: rackstraw | Feb 19, 2017 8:28:51 PM | 151

very nice article thanks for sharing this article

Posted by: shajee fareedi | Feb 24, 2017 8:59:16 AM | 152

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