Seymour Hersh reports in the London Review of Books on Sunday that President Obama, while pitching the administration’s case for war, “failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack.”
The report, the thrust of which the Obama Administration denies, calls into question the narrative that the administration has outlined since an August 21 chemical attack on a Damascus suburb that almost led the United States into an air war with Syria. The march toward war was based on what Obama and his top aides have characterized as conclusive evidence that Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government had carried out the attack.
The Hersh article is based in part on a four-page secret cable given to a top official at the Defense Intelligence Agency on June 20, one of a group of intelligence community documents allegedly stating that jihadi rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra has the ability to make sarin gas. Sarin is the chemical believed to have been used in the Aug 21 chemical attack in Ghouta that crossed Obama’s “red line” and prompted the administration to push for a strike on Assad’s regime. The story is sourced mainly to intelligence and military officers and consultants.
“When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad,” Hersh writes.
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