An acclaimed investigative journalist has now blown a giant hole in the official narrative of one of 2017’s most explosive world events: the Syrian ‘chemical attack‘ and Donald Trump’s fierce response. But the BBC and other media outlets seem to be completely ignoring his exposé.
Instead, the public service broadcaster is just regurgitating now disputed stories. And it’s been publishing further unsubstantiated ‘evidence‘ that supports this narrative. In doing so, it is essentially conning its audience; while making itself complicit in a looming catastrophe in the Middle East and beyond.
Seymour Hersh is the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who exposed the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, and shocking evidence about Osama Bin Laden’s death in 2011. Hersh has amassed a wealth of security contacts during his more than 40 years of reporting.
Recently, Hersh turned his attentions to the alleged Syrian sarin gas attack in April. The event took place in a rebel-held town in north-western Syria, and the world’s political and media classes have widely accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible.
Hersh’s investigation, however, has produced some very different conclusions; including, but not exclusively, that:
- Assad did carry out a bombing attack, on a jihadi meeting site. But the Russians gave the US advance notice and precise details about the plan.
- The Syrians used “a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives” for the attack, not a chemical weapon.
- Jihadis stored various supplies at the attack site. The US military determined that a secondary explosion caused by the bomb, due to “the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement”, could have “generated a huge toxic cloud” over the town.
- Intelligence and military sources told US President Trump that they didn’t have proof that Assad had launched a chemical attack. But Trump ordered retaliation regardless; bombing a Syrian airbase.
Hersh struggled to find a mainstream media outlet willing to publish his findings. So Germany’s Welt N24 took up the story. And outlets like Alternet, teleSUR and The Real News Network have also covered Hersh’s investigation. But there’s been an absolute absence of coverage of his crucial investigation in the mainstream press.
Setting the stage
Chatter about Assad and chemical weapons has re-emerged recently, after a Pentagon spokesperson said that the US has recently seen activity in the country suggesting “preparations” for “chemical weapons use”. Trump’s White House has warned Assad that “he and his military will pay a heavy price” if “another” attack takes place.
The BBC covered the development on 28 June. In fact, the story was plastered across most of major news sites. But at no point in the BBC story does it mention the new evidence Hersh’s investigation has brought to light. Instead, the BBC cites the Russians arguing against Assad’s guilt and recalls a tip it received from an undisclosed “Western intelligence agency” claiming the Syrian government is still producing chemical weapons.
But Hersh’s evidence, based on testimony from involved military and intelligence officials and transcripts of real-time communications of the event, didn’t get a look in.
On 30 June, the international chemical weapons watchdog claimed evidence of sarin gas was found in the aftermath of the April attack. It did not, however, conclude who was responsible for its presence. Hersh states that his investigation found that: “Syria did not drop a sarin bomb that morning. It was known to everybody in the command. Period.”
But UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is already calling for international action against “those responsible”. And much of the media, including the BBC, is hiding Hersh’s evidence from public view.
People deserve to see all the information. Because the stakes are very high. A military confrontation with Syria would inevitably draw Russia into the conflict, as an ally of Assad and a power currently operating in the country. And it would lead to even more suffering for the Syrian people.
Politicians and the media fed people dodgy evidence in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. But with the media now censoring evidence on Syria, it looks like it’s trying to fool people again – or at the very least failing to do its job. We must not fall for its shameful behaviour a second time round.
Watch Hersh’s interview on his investigation:
UPDATE 4 July 2017 – For Bellingcat‘s critique of Hersh’s investigation, see here.
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