04/13/17

Just Who Was the Russian Agent After All?

Accuracy in Media

A Special Report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director.

Ever since President Trump’s missile strike on Syria on April 6, which angered Russia’s Vladimir Putin, The Washington Post has ever-so-subtly backed away from its robotic “Russian interference to help elect Trump” claims, asserted with absolute certainty. The Post now, on April 7, calls it the “alleged” Russian efforts to “interfere in the 2016 presidential race.” The Post no longer sounds so sure of itself and its anonymous anti-Trump intelligence agency sources.

The U.S. strike on a Syrian air base not only demonstrates that Trump will take decisive action against a Russian client state, but that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, is the real Russian dupe, for making an admittedly flawed agreement with Russia that allowed Syria to keep (and use) some of its chemical weapons.

With the narrative that Trump is/was a Russian agent fading fast, perhaps the media will now get serious about exploring the abundant evidence that the real scandal is the political surveillance of Trump and his associates by the outgoing Obama administration. What’s more, the direct evidence points to Obama’s personal role. The motive? Covering up Obama’s own deals with the Russians on Syria and Iran.

In Syria, Obama had armed one side of the Syrian civil war, through CIA arms shipments to the “rebels,” and had then struck a deal with Russia that gave the appearance of having removed all of the chemical weapons from the arsenal of the other side. The resulting civil war has cost 500,000 lives and left President Trump with a series of bad options. He decided to strike the Shayrat Syrian airbase when he was informed that aircraft from that base conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4.

On top of this, Trump is also facing the prospect of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, supposedly limiting Iran’s nuclear weapons development, coming completely apart. In this case, Obama once again joined with the Russians in actually safeguarding a Russian client’s weapons arsenal through an agreement claiming to achieve the opposite.

As we noted in July 2015, Obama actually thanked Putin for bringing about the Iran deal. We said at the time, “This demonstrates something worse than the deal itself and the real nature of the Iranian threat. Putin should thank Obama because the U.S. is helping Iran, Russia’s client state, get tens of billions of dollars in international financial aid. Down the line, Russia gets U.S. approval to supply more weapons to the anti-American regime.”

The Smoking Gun

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says that what he calls the “smoking gun” revelations about Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice unmasking Trump team names from NSA wiretap databases are “actually eerily similar to what President Trump accused them of” in tweets on March 4. (MSNBC, April 4.)

They point directly to President Obama. Rice surely must have informed her boss during the more than one year period of her “unmasking” Trump campaign and transition team names in NSA wiretap reports on numerous occasions.

Obama’s right-hand adviser Rice herself points to Obama. In the middle of a long MSNBC interview on April 4 discussing Rice’s “unmasking” of names in reports of intercepted Trump team-Russia communications and those communications with no connection to Russia, Rice was evasive but kept dragging Obama into the mix. She never says, for example, that she did unmasking on her own without ever informing Obama, or that she kept it all to herself.  She never says that.

Instead, Rice kept implicating Obama whenever she could, while minimizing her own role as somehow a passive one. Rice said that Obama ordered the compilation of intelligence reports on Russian hacking and election interference, which implied that the reports included the unmasked name of Trump adviser Gen. Michael Flynn in wiretap intercept reports of phone calls with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. This is what MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell had been asking Rice about.

MSNBC kept pressing Rice about the NSA-intercepted Flynn conversations with the Russian ambassador in December 2016, which Rice kept trying to dodge until Andrea Mitchell brought up the intercepted Flynn/Russian ambassador “conversations” (plural) one last time, noting that it was after the Obama sanctions and expulsion of Russian spy-diplomats.

Rice finally replied by taking it back to August 2016, and confirming Obama knew about it and was “concerned,” saying:

“Well, Andrea, from basically August [2016] through the end of the [Obama] administration [in January 2017] we were hearing more and more—getting more and more information about Russian interference in our electoral process. It was of grave concern to all of us in the national security team of the President [Obama] and the President himself….

“So YES there was a pace of reporting that accelerated as the Intelligence Community got more and more information on that and shared it with U.S. [Obama] officials…I can say that from when this first came to light in intelligence channels to when the administration ended we got more and more information” (emphasis added except “YES” was Rice’s voice emphasis; bracketed [ ] clarifications added).

The Nature of the Spying

Senator Paul explained that today’s “wiretapping” mainly means “reverse targeting” of existing digital taps that already massively eavesdrop on everyone’s communications, then searching the databases of transcripts, not physically tapping wires to phones. (AIM made the same points in its Special Reports on March 18 and April 4.)

These were not wiretaps about Russia or “incidental collection” on legitimate foreign intelligence subjects, though they may have begun that way. It was clearly procured for partisan political purposes to spy on the Trump opposition using the full weight of the U.S. government’s NSA spying apparatus (or NSA facilities used by the British GCHQ.)

According to Rep. Peter King (R-NY) of the House Intelligence Committee—who was briefed on the contents of the wiretap reports on the Trump campaign and his associates obtained by Rice and other Obama officials—they were like a private investigator’s file, with nothing on Russia-type intelligence:

“This [NSA wiretap] is information about their everyday lives. Who they were talking with, who they were meeting, where they were going to eat… just trying to lay out a dossier on somebody. Sort of like in a divorce case where lawyers are hired, investigators are hired to just find out what a person is doing from morning until night and then you try to piece it together later on” (bracketed [ ] clarification added).

The former Obama defense official and Hillary campaign adviser, Evelyn Farkas, proudly admitted during an MSNBC interview on March 2 that she had urged her “former colleagues” to collect and spread the NSA wiretap intelligence on Russia and Trump and “that’s why you have the leaking!” She had been “getting winks and nods from inside” the Obama administration since last summer, she said in an earlier interview.

MSNBC queried Farkas in response to the just-breaking New York Times March 1 story on Obama officials spreading around the government all the wiretap surveillance data on Trump and associates such as Gen. Flynn, and MSNBC had the Times article up on the video screen.  President Trump then tweeted on March 4 that Obama had his “‘wires tapped’” (two words).

The fake news media have ridiculed Trump for claiming anyone “wiretapped” him, insinuating he had said Obama physically tapped his phone wires—when he said no such thing. He merely used simplified terminology in quotes for a short tweet, rather than a book-length definition. FISA law as it stands today talks about “wire” taps or interception, even though it is understood to apply to digital communications (50 U.S. Code 1801 et seq.).

Putin Had No Motive 

In an unnoticed piece in Politico on December 12, 2016, Evelyn Farkas, a Russia expert, inadvertently tripped up the entire leftist narrative on the (bogus) Trump-Russia plot, and in effect admitted that Putin had no motive to hack DNC emails and help Trump get elected to be a Russian ally.

This was just a month after the election, so it is fresh in terms of application to the campaign leading up to it. Farkas wrote in Politico:

“For domestic political reasons, Putin needs the United States as its public enemy, given Russia’s current and foreseeable economic situation, and Russian presidential elections are coming up in 2018” (emphasis added).

Farkas explained that any positive “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations by President Trump as a result of purported Putin blackmail of Trump, making Trump his “puppet,” would be “very temporary” because Putin needs the U.S. as his “public enemy,” domestically and internationally (Trump and U.S. make it “international”). Putin doesn’t want good relations with the U.S. even with Trump as its President, according to Farkas.

Farkas apparently still believes Trump may be Putin’s “puppet” but her Russia analysis contradicts her narrative and that of the Democrat/media/intelligence juggernaut against Trump, that it is all a plot to get a pro-Russian president into the Oval Office. President Trump’s missile strike against Russia’s ally, Syria, contradicts that narrative.

Other observers have also noticed a complete lack of any evidence that Putin wanted to interfere in the U.S. election to help Trump win. The New York Review of Books on January 9 published this analysis of the report of the U.S. Intelligence Community (actually only 3 to 5 out of 17 agencies that make up the IC) on Russian interference that had claimed without a shred of evidence that Putin “ordered” the intervention to help Trump get elected.

The author is a Russian-American journalist, Masha Gessen, a hostile anti-Trump ideologue. Yet she candidly admits (in January 9 and March 6 articles):

“…the entirety of the evidence the [U.S. Intelligence Community] report offers to support its estimation of Putin’s motives for allegedly working to elect Trump: [is] conjecture based on other politicians in other periods, on other continents—and also on misreported or mistranslated public statements.”

“…the joint intelligence report on Russian interference in the campaign…is, plainly, laughable…the protracted national game of connecting the Trump-Putin dots is an exercise in conspiracy thinking.”

“Both of these appointments [Gen. McMaster and Russia expert Fiona Hill]—and the fact that sanctions [against Russia] remain in place six weeks into Trump’s fast-moving presidency—contradict the ‘Putin’s puppet’ narrative (as does the fact that Russian domestic propaganda has already turned against Trump). But such is the nature of conspiracy thinking that facts can do nothing to change it.”

“If…[Trump is impeached], it will have resulted largely from a media campaign orchestrated by members of the [U.S.] intelligence community—setting a dangerous political precedent that will have corrupted the public sphere and promoted paranoia” (emphasis added; bracketed [ ] clarifications added).

To sum up: No evidence, and no motive, is known for Russia hacking the DNC/Podesta emails to elect Trump or interfere with the election to defeat Hillary and support Trump. No smoking gun evidence, not even a whiff of smoke.

Surely such a “smoking gun” would have leaked by now—since Lt. General Flynn’s trivial conversation with Russian ambassador Kislyak on December 29, intercepted by NSA digital wiretap, leaked within weeks to David Ignatius of The Washington Post—and got Flynn fired. That was just a few words saying that the Trump administration will deal with Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian “diplomats” (spies) later, with not a hint of any promises or relief, and no mention even of the word “sanctions” (evidently leading Flynn to forget the conversation).

The fact that no “smoking gun” has leaked or even been hinted at makes us suspect that in fact the unmasked NSA wiretap transcripts actually prove the opposite of the leftist Democrat Party narrative—that they record positive evidence that Trump and his associates were not colluding with Russia, that they had nothing to do with the hacking or leaking of the DNC or the Podesta/Hillary emails or any Russian interference in the election.

Obama’s Motive

It seems that the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory was designed to cover or excuse the illegal surveillance of Trump and his associates by the Obama administration. One of the motives may have been that Obama was fearful that the deals he struck with Putin on Syria and Iran would come unraveled. He had to know that he and his associates, including Susan Rice and former Secretary of State John Kerry, would look like dupes of the Russians for making such flawed agreements.

In order to brace for these developments, the idea was hatched to accuse Trump and his associates of being the Russian dupes, using their innocent contacts with Russian officials or businessmen as the excuse for surveillance. This made Trump look like the Russian dupe and Obama as the tough guy with Putin.

But the conversations captured in NSA digital wiretaps are turning out to be the opposite of the Democrat/media narrative. The remarks between Trump associates and Russian officials make it clear that no real relationship existed, that no insidious conspiracy was in play, that public events such as the WikiLeaks email releases were annoyances, that the “Trump dossier” was known to be fake, etc.

In fact, The New York Times has been forced to admit that the only thing anyone has turned up even in “intercepted calls” and “phone records” are benign “multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russians who serve in or are close to Mr. Putin’s government.”

Note in The New York Times quotes how the phony “Trump dossier” is always dragged in because the leaked NSA wiretaps show nothing, even on their face, that is incriminating or damaging to Trump, and only the “dossier” can (purportedly) supply that.

This was in The New York Times on March 3, the day before President Trump tweeted about the Obama “‘wire tapping’” against him, when it was still heroic in the left-wing narrative to admit to leaking highly classified NSA intelligence to try to destroy the President:

“Current and former American officials have said that phone records and [NSA-type] intercepted calls show that members of Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”

“There have been courtesy calls, policy discussions and business contacts [in the intercepted phone calls of Trump campaign and associates], though nothing has emerged publicly indicating anything more sinister. A dossier of allegations on Trump-Russia contacts, compiled by a former British intelligence agent for Mr. Trump’s political opponents, includes unproven claims that his aides collaborated in Russia’s hacking of Democratic targets” (emphasis added; paras. reordered; bracketed [ ] clarification added).

“Former diplomats and Russia specialists say it would have been absurd and contrary to American interests for the Trump team to avoid meetings with Russians, either during or since the campaign.”

Intelligence agency officials have consistently denied finding any evidence for such Trump collusion with the Russians despite furious efforts to prove it in order to take down President Trump. The best anyone has come up with is the stupid claim that some internet “IP addresses” of attempted hackings trace back to Russian IP domains, when anyone with the slightest tech savvy knows that expert hackers cover their tracks to prevent such easy tracing, and even plant false trails (such as those pointing to, for example, Russian IP internet addresses).

No one has traced any specific hacking attempt to specifically attempt to capture the DNC emails, only alleged hacking attempts against the main DNC computer system. DNC emails are separated from the DNC computer system by the usual email client firewalls.

Trump himself pointed that out last year when these falsehoods first surfaced, that the supposed “Russian hackers” could be someone in New Jersey, etc., and that sophisticated hackers would not get caught digitally. Recently, the CIA’s hacker tools for planting false trails and the concealment of cybertraces were themselves leaked or hacked to WikiLeaks, causing worldwide consternation.

The pernicious misuse of the fake “Trump dossier” as an investigative “roadmap” by the FBI has been reported by The New York Times for months (with less dramatic prose than the BBC’s). (New York Times, January 20, February 14.) Instead, the Times should be investigating and exposing the “dossier’s” glaringly obvious fraudulent nature and the political motives behind its compilation and release. The NSA’s (and/or British GCHQ’s) “actively monitored” surveillance of Trump communications reportedly has been justified on the basis of this fake sex tape “dossier.”

Thus, the Obama digital Watergate burglary even invades the bedroom, albeit in the fictional narrative of the “dossier.”

04/12/17

Fact Checking Obama’s Phony Legacy

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, recently gave Susan Rice four Pinocchios for a false and misleading statement regarding Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. But what is notable about this story is not that Rice lied. She has done that many times. Rather, the remarkable part of this story is that the Post took so long to wake up to this Obama administration falsehood.

After all, Kessler’s evidence that Syria still had a chemical weapons capability reaches back two years, to a period during President Obama’s tenure. Why not, then, issue a fact check sooner? In 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper assessed that “Syria has not declared all the elements of its chemical weapons program.” In addition, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported in 2015 and 2016 that it was “finding traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at Syrian facilities that had not been declared to inspectors or previously visited.”

“The reality is that there were continued chemical-weapons attacks by Syria—and that U.S. and international officials had good evidence that Syria had not been completely forthcoming in its declaration and possibly retained sarin and VX nerve agent,” writes Kessler.

AIM’s Cliff Kincaid recently exposed how the left-wing, mainstream media are currently covering for Obama administration officials’ lies about Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile by noting that these officials had referred to “declared” stockpiles. This was sold as nuance. However, as Kincaid notes, then Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

But The New York Times carried an article on April 9 by Peter Baker, which quoted Antony Blinken, former deputy secretary of state under then-President Barack Obama, as acknowledging that regarding chemical weapons, “We always knew we had not gotten everything, that the Syrians had not been fully forthcoming in their declaration.” In other words, this is further evidence that the Obama administration was lying about the success of their negotiations.

These are not complicated lies, and not based in nuance. The Obama administration misled the American people, and Bashar Assad’s apparent recent sarin gas attack has made this impossible to ignore. Arguably, the Post is not willingly covering Obama’s tarnished legacy. Rather, it has been backed into a corner by world events.

I say “apparent” because we have learned not to accept all reports from U.S. intelligence agencies as factually accurate. Whether we are talking about the fall of the Soviet Union, the existence of certain WMD in Iraq, the Islamic State as the Junior Varsity, or Russia “hacking” our presidential election with the goal of helping to elect Donald Trump as president, we know that intelligence can easily be politicized, or just plain wrong. In this case, there are analysts and talk-show personalities on the left and right who question why Bashar al-Assad would drop chemical weapons on civilians at this juncture in Syria’s civil war, and who want to see the evidence before accepting it as fact. Perhaps it was the jihadis, e.g., al Qaeda, ISIS or the Al-Nusra Front, who stood to gain if much of the world were to condemn Assad for this attack. Others argue that it was a “wag the dog” scenario, suggesting perhaps collusion between Trump and Putin. The Times rejects all of these theories.

Congressmen from both sides of the aisle praised the cruise missile attack on Syria, and other congressmen from both sides condemned the attacks as playing into the hands of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Peter Hitchens, writing for England’s Sunday Mail, argued that “Our ‘noble’ cause” was “Dropping bombs on behalf of Al Qaeda.” There are people on both sides of this argument who I respect, including some who argue that whoever was behind the use of chemical weapons, it was an important and useful message sent by the new American president.

For the purpose of this column, we’ll go with the conventional wisdom, i.e., that it was Assad who used chemical weapons against his own civilian population. We know that somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million people have died in this war since it began in 2011.

The agreement with Syria to ship out its chemical weapons was unenforceable and unverifiable. So, too, with the unsigned Iran deal, another Obama legacy item. “It will be very hard to verify the agreement since military sites—where Iran is likely to conduct covert nuclear-weapons work—are off limits to inspectors,” wrote Fred Fleitz for the Center for Security Policy in 2016. Fleitz previously worked for the CIA, the DIA, the State Department and the House Intelligence Committee. “The deal dumbed down the IAEA’s quarterly Iran reports,” wrote Fleitz, “making it difficult for the world to know the true extent of Iran’s compliance.”

In other words, the loopholes of the unsigned Iran deal are large enough to walk through. According to Newsweek, Germany’s “domestic security agency,” the BfV, reported in 2016 that Iran tried the year before to acquire illegal nuclear technologies, and boost its missile technology, “which could among other things potentially serve to deliver nuclear weapons.”

In December of 2015, we were told by The New York Times and other news organizations that Iran shipped “almost all of [its] stockpile of low-enriched uranium” to Russia, and that “For President Obama, the peaceful removal of the fuel from Iran is one of the biggest achievements in his foreign policy record.” Sound familiar?

And after Iran exported its heavy water to Oman, the U.S., and Russia, it received 130 tons of natural uranium from Russia this past January. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Associated Press that this uranium could be enriched to create as many as 10 nuclear bombs.

This is the dangerous pattern that emerged from Obama’s flawed, and often disastrous, leadership. First, the Obama administration would guarantee or approve of a political agreement with a bad state actor who had little incentive to adhere to the stated terms, and then that country ultimately cheated on the deal. In the meantime, Obama and his staff attempted to sell the agreement in glowing terms to the American public and Congress, and Obama’s adoring media were always eager to advance his narrative, regardless of the national security implications.

So, too, with the Paris climate accord. “The Paris climate-change agreement was deliberately negotiated to make it binding on the United States without Senate ratification and difficult for a future U.S. president to cancel,” wrote Fleitz. According to Coral Davenport of The New York Times, “Under the Paris agreement, every nation has formally submitted plans detailing how it expects to lower its planet-warming pollution.” However, she writes, “under the Paris deal, those numerical targets are not legally binding, and there are no sanctions for failing to meet them.” In other words, the Paris climate accord is a meaningless document for countries that are not committed to reducing emissions—but it sets a dangerous precedent here in America.

In Obama’s world, or if Hillary Clinton would have become president, we would have stuck to the draconian limits it placed on the U.S., while unilaterally surrendering more of our sovereignty to a UN bureaucracy, all in the name of saving the world from climate change. Obama claimed to have ratified the Paris accords with his signature alone, calling it an executive agreement rather than a treaty, because he knew the Senate would never approve.

China, in particular, claims, as part of the accord, that it will reduce its emissions intensity by 60 to 65 percent by 2030—when, by 2030, its carbon emissions would already be declining. Yet here at home, Obama was intent on strangling businesses such as coal plants to achieve a more ambitious and immediate climate goal, which in reality was a political goal.

The media have had, and will continue to have, a vested interest in preserving Obama’s foreign policy legacy. Yet Obama’s foreign policy failures could become more and more apparent over time, exposing how Obama diminished United States power into that of a paper tiger. Another stunning example was the administration’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attacks, where the military did not send military assets to combat the attack, but left the insufficiently protected personnel on the ground to deal with the terrorists. The administration claimed that they didn’t have time, or enough intelligence, to send in the armed forces. This is a preposterous lie. When will the mainstream media investigate these other scandals and flawed agreements? The Post should issue a fact check on these other pressing issues. Ample evidence already exists.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at roger.aro[email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

04/10/17

74% of Syria Chemical Materials Reported Destroyed

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Update:

According to that CW disarmament specialist, ОБАС-250-235П is one and only Sov/Rus aviation bomb to spread Sarin. That looks like filler cap and Associated Press is reporting:

Senior U.S. official says U.S. has concluded that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week – AP

So….

Who lied? Susan Rice? Yes, John Kerry? Yes, Barack Obama….especially yes. While John Kerry worked with Russia to eliminate the ‘declared’ chemical weapons in Syria…note below it refers to mustard gas. When Russia presented the document to the Obama administration, we signed it as well. So, the Assad regime, Putin, Iran and the Obama White House all have their feet in this swamp. Got that?

Also note the percentage of the CW inventory destroyed…hummm right?

Release No: NR-052-14
January 27, 2014

M/V Cape Ray Deployment

Today the Department of Defense announced the deployment of M/V Cape Ray from Portsmouth, Va. M/V Cape Ray is the primary contribution of the Department of Defense toward international efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons material program. Over the last several months, hundreds of government and contract personnel have worked tirelessly to prepare the vessel to neutralize Syrian chemical materials and precursors using proven hydrolysis technology. This achievement could not have been possible without these remarkable contributions.

The United States remains committed to ensuring its neutralization of Syria’s chemical materials prioritizes the safety of people, protects the environment, follows verification procedures of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and with applicable standards. All waste from the hydrolysis process on M/V Cape Ray will be safely and properly disposed of at commercial facilities to be determined by the OPCW. No hydrolysis byproducts will be released into the sea or air. M/V Cape Ray will comply with all applicable international laws, regulations, and treaties.

It is the responsibility of the Assad regime to transport the chemical materials safely to facilitate their removal for destruction. The international community is poised to meet the milestones set forth by the OPCW, including the June 30 target date for the total destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons materials. The United States joins the OPCW and the United Nations in calling on the Assad regime to intensify its efforts to ensure its international obligations and commitment are met so these materials may be removed from Syria as quickly and safely as possible.

Arms Control

Transfer of Syrian Chemicals to Cape Ray is Complete

A trailer operator for Medcenter Container Terminal transfers a container from the M/V Ark Futura, a Danish cargo ship, along the dock to the loading deck of M/V Cape Ray during operations at the Italian port of Gioia Tauro, July 2, 2014. The Cape Ray is tasked with the neutralization of specific chemical materials from Syria in accordance with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons guidelines while operating in international waters. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Desmond Parks

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2014 — The transfer of Syrian chemicals from the Danish container ship Ark Futura to the Motor Vessel Cape Ray has been completed, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Adm. John Kirby said in a statement issued yesterday.

After the transfer was made in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro, Kirby said in the statement, the Cape Ray departed yesterday for international waters in the Mediterranean Sea to emp loy its onboard system to neutralize the chemicals.

Kirby’s statement reads as follows:

The transfer of Syrian chemicals from the Danish container ship Ark Futura to the Motor Vessel Cape Ray is complete. Cape Ray departed the Italian port of Gioia Tauro this afternoon for international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, where neutralization operations will soon begin. The neutralization process should take several weeks to complete.

Secretary Hagel is grateful to Danish and Italian authorities for their support in this process and is enormously proud of everyone who helped make possible this safe and incident-free transfer. He extends a special thanks to the men and women of the Cape Ray, Naval Forces Europe, and U.S. European Command teams for their impeccable planning and execution.

***

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2014 – The container ship M/V Cape Ray has arrived at Rota, Spain, for a port visit while en route to aid in removal of Syrian chemical materials, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said.

The vessel — part of the Transportation Department Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force program — left Portsmouth, Va., Jan. 27. Hundreds of government and contract personnel worked for several months to prepare the vessel to neutralize Syrian chemical materials and precursors using hydrolysis technology.

“When Syria has completed removal of its chemical materials, MV Cape Ray will depart Rota and proceed to the transloading port in Italy, where she will take the chemicals on board,” Warren said in a statement announcing the vessel’s arrival in Spain. “Our ship is prepared and our crew is trained to safely neutralize Syria’s chemical materials. We stand ready to fulfill our contributions to this international effort; it is time for Syria to live up to their obligations to the international community.”

By offering Rota for a port of call before MV Cape Ray receives a load of chemical materials and embarks on the destruction phase of its mission, Spain is making a contribution to the United Nations-sanctioned multinational effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons materials, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid said.

The United States plans to neutralize the chemicals at sea in international waters using proven hydrolysis technology, embassy officials added. All waste from the hydrolysis process aboard MV Cape Ray will be safely and properly stored on board until it is disposed of at commercial facilities to be determined by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, they added, emphasizing that no hydrolysis byproducts will be released into the sea or air.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a message to the Cape Ray’s crew, wishing them well as they left Portsmouth.

“As you all know, your task will not be easy,” Hagel wrote. “Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.

“You are ready,” the secretary continued. “We all have complete confidence in each of you. You represent the best of our nation, not only because of your expertise and commitment, but because of your willingness to serve when called upon. For that, we will always be grateful. We are also grateful to your families for the love and support they have given you. On behalf of our country and the American people, I wish you much success. Take care of yourselves. God bless you all.”

***

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2014 – Specialists on the U.S. container ship M/V Cape Ray continue their work in the Mediterranean Sea, neutralizing chemical materials from Syria and contributing to what the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, on August 7 confirmed as the destruction of 74.2 percent of Syria’s chemical stockpile.

The Spanish patrol boat Infanta Elena (P-76), left, escorts the container ship MV Cape Ray (T-AKR 9679) through the Strait of Gibraltar en route to the Mediterranean Sea June 26, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Desmond Parks
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

U.S. military and civilian specialists aboard the ship began using the field deployable hydrolysis system to neutralize Syrian chemical materials on July 7, Director of Pentagon Press Operations Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters at the time, anticipating that it would take about 60 days to complete the job.

On August 5 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground-Edgewood Team CBRNE capabilities showcase, Adam Baker, a chemical engineer and project manager with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, detailed the hard work that went into turning a land-based hydrolysis system into a field-deployable system in just five months.

“We had a gap in capabilities for a system that was transportable, that could be operated out of a remote location and that would [process] bulk liquid agent at high throughputs.”

The system had to be able to be transported to a remote site and set up and be sufficient with a supply of reagents and diesel fuel, Baker explained.

The project was given the go-ahead in February 2013. In November 2013, he said, “That’s when they made the decision to start putting it on the Cape Ray.”

The timeline was short, Baker said, and they couldn’t start from scratch with a new system, so they used a process from the former Aberdeen Chemical Demilitarization Facility, or ABCDF, that had been used a decade ago to neutralize 1,700 tons of mustard – part of the destruction of the United States’ own chemical stockpile.

Baker said the engineers compressed that process into transportable, standardized shipping containers. They had two titanium reactors they could use for the Cape Ray that made it easier for rapid deployment of the two systems that are now on the ship.

One of the Cape Ray’s most critical design factors for the system, Baker said, “was that everything we needed had to go on that ship. Instead of having trucks come in every day and bring the reagent and trucks go out every day with your waste, all of those containers had to go on the ship.”

At least 269 of the standardized shipping containers are on the ship, holding everything the specialists and crew need and everything the hydrolysis process needs and then creates. Nothing is dumped from the ship. More here.

04/10/17

Unit 450, The Syrian Chemical Weapons Program Details

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

If you still think the chemical weapons attack was fake news, read on. Further, it must be stated that the Pentagon and CIA have extraordinary skills and ability to gather quality intelligence, intelligence that was gained under the Obama administration and did not stop the program but rather deferred it to Russia to handle. This was done under threat by Tehran to the Obama White House to leave Assad alone during the JPOA, the Iran nuclear talks. Obama complied.

For Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and for U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley to lay the blame at the feet of Russia and Iran for the Assad/Syria chemical weapons program was exact and right.

Further in 2013, a Syrian army defector gave testimony to Western officials and the United Nations on the Unit 450 operations.

Bassem Al-Hassan, the head of the Syrian clandestine unit for special assignments, was appointed the position after Muhammad Suleiman, another key aide to Assad, was assassinated in his home in August 2008, Western intelligence sources told Fox News.

The close aide to Assad had been on the U.S. radar, and is one of the individuals named on the Office of Foreign Assets Control Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN). The list names individuals and companies who pose as a national security threat to the U.S.

Hassan is also considered a very close friend and contact to Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard general, and has connections with Russian officials.

Western intelligence sources said Hassan was the head of Unit 450, Syria’s chemical weapons unit, and was responsible for any activities, including producing and ordering the weapons for the department.

Syria agreed in 2013 to destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons as part of a deal brokered between former President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A year later, then-Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syria’s chemical weapons were “100 percent” destroyed.

The statement came into question on Tuesday when a chemical weapons attack in an opposition-held town in northern Syria killed more than 80 people, including at least 30 children. The U.S. blamed Assad for the attack.

President Trump on Friday authorized to launch 60 U.S. Tomahawk missiles on the Shayrat air base, southeast of Homs, in retaliation to the chemical weapons attack. The Pentagon said the airstrikes will not eliminate the country’s chemical weapons supply completely, but reduce the government’s ability to deliver them.

Elite Syrian Unit 450 Scatters Chemical Arms Stockpile

Assad Regime Has Moved Weapons to as Many as 50 Sites

2013: A secretive Syrian military unit at the center of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons program has been moving stocks of poison gases and munitions to as many as 50 sites to make them harder for the U.S. to track, according to American and Middle Eastern officials.

The movements of chemical weapons by Syria’s elite Unit 450 could complicate any U.S. bombing campaign in Syria over its alleged chemical attacks, officials said. It also raises questions about implementation of a Russian proposal that calls for the regime to surrender control of its stockpile, they said.

U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies still believe they know where most of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons are located, but with less confidence than six months ago, U.S. officials said.

Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday in Geneva with his Russian counterpart to discuss a road map for ending the weapons program. The challenges are immense, Mr. Kerry said.

The U.S. alleges a chemical-weapons attack by the Syrian government on Aug. 21 killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 400 children. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday again denied any involvement in a chemical attack, but he said his government was prepared to sign an agreement banning the use of chemical weapons. Syrian officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the weapons.

Unit 450 – a branch of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center that manages the regime’s overall chemicals weapons program – has been moving the stocks around for months, officials and lawmakers briefed on the intelligence said.

Movements occurred as recently as last week, the officials said, after Mr. Obama said he was preparing to launch strikes.

A man affected by what activists say was nerve gas received assistance in the Damascus suburbs last month.

The unit is in charge of mixing and deploying chemical munitions, and it provides security at chemical sites, according to U.S. and European intelligence agencies. It is composed of officers from Mr. Assad’s Alawite sect. One diplomat briefed on the unit said it was Alawite from “janitor to commander.”

U.S. military officials have looked into the possibility of gaining influence over members of Unit 450 through inducements or threats. “In a perfect world, you would actually like to co-opt that unit. Who cares who pays them as long as they sit on the chemical weapons,” said a senior U.S. military official.

Although the option remains on the table, government experts say the unit is so close-knit that they doubt any member could break ranks without being exposed and killed.

The U.S. estimates the regime has 1,000 metric tons of chemical and biological agents. “That is what we know about. There might be more,” said one senior U.S. official.

The regime traditionally kept most of its chemical and biological weapons at a few large sites in western Syria, U.S. officials said. But beginning about a year ago, the Syrians started dispersing the arsenal to nearly two dozen major sites.

Unit 450 also started using dozens of smaller sites. The U.S. now believes Mr. Assad’s chemical arsenal has been scattered to as many as 50 locations in the west, north and south, as well as new sites in the east, officials said.

The U.S. is using satellites to track vehicles employed by Unit 450 to disperse the chemical-weapons stocks. But the imagery doesn’t always show what is being put on the trucks. “We know a lot less than we did six months ago about where the chemical weapons are,” one official said.

The movements, activities and base locations of Unit 450 are so sensitive that the U.S. won’t share information with even trusted allies in the opposition for fear the unit would be overrun by rebels, said current and former U.S. officials.

The U.S. wants any military strikes in Syria to send a message to the heads of Unit 450 that there is a steep price for following orders to use chemical weapons, U.S. officials said.

At the same time, the U.S. doesn’t want any strike to destabilize the unit so much that it loses control of its chemical weapons, giving rebels a chance to seize the arsenal.

Attacking Unit 450, assuming we have any idea where they actually are, would be a pretty tricky affair because”¦if you attack them you may reduce the security of their weapons, which is something we certainly don’t want,” said Jeffrey White, a veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency and a defense fellow at The Washington Institute.

Within Syria, little is known about Unit 450 or the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center. One of the buildings is in a sprawling complex on the outskirts of Damascus.

Even high-ranking defectors from the Syrian military that form the core of the rebel insurgency – including those who served in units trained to handle chemical attacks – said they hadn’t heard of Unit 450.

The Pentagon has prepared multiple target lists for possible strikes, some of which include commanders of Unit 450.

But a senior U.S. official said no decision has been made to target them, reflecting the challenge of sending a message to Unit 450 without destabilizing it.

In some respects, officials said, the hands-on role that Unit 450 plays in safeguarding the regime’s chemical weapons secrets makes it too valuable for the U.S. to eliminate, even though the U.S. believes the unit is directly responsible for the alleged chemical weapons abuses.

The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center answers only to Mr. Assad and the most senior members of his clan, according to U.S. and European officials. Attack orders are forwarded to a commanding officer within Unit 450.

If the Russians clinch a deal for Mr. Assad to give up his chemical weapons, any prospective United Nations-led force to protect inspectors and secure storage sites would likely need to work closely with Unit 450 and the research center, current and former administration officials said.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that President Barack Obama directed him to plan for “a militarily significant strike” that would deter the Assad regime’s further use of chemical weapons and degrade the regime’s military capability to employ chemical weapons in the future.

But officials said the U.S. doesn’t plan to bomb chemical weapons sites directly because of concerns any attack would disperse poison agents and put civilians at risk.

In addition to satellites, the U.S. also relies on Israeli spies for on-the-ground intelligence about the unit, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.

Though small in size, Unit 450 controls a vast infrastructure that makes it easier for the U.S. and Israel to track its movements. Chemical weapons storage depots are guarded by the unit within larger compounds to provide multiple layers of security, U.S. officials said.

Whenever chemical munitions are deployed in the field, Unit 450 has to pre-deploy heavy equipment to chemical mixing areas, which the U.S. and Israel can track.

04/10/17

Russia and Iran Draw Their Own Red Line – Threaten The United States With War After Syrian Missile Strikes [VIDEO]

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | Right Wing News

It looks like Russia and Iran are drawing their own red lines today. They are threatening deadly force if America strikes Syria again after last week’s proportional response to Assad gassing his own people. President Trump ordered the firing of 60 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria, which destroyed most of the base. The act humiliated Vladimir Putin who now feels he must step up his game. Iran went silent, which worries me… Iran and Hezbollah have their sights set on Israel and the silence indicates to me a preparation for strikes, not a backing down. “We will respond to any aggression powerfully, as Russia and Iran would never allow the U.S. to dominate the world,” read a statement issued by the Syria-Iran-Russia Joint Operations Room, a combination of forces operating on behalf of Assad in Syria. The statement was first published in Iran’s state-controlled media.

We are very close to war now and it would not take much for all out skirmishes to break out. President Trump did the right thing last week… he responded to Assad appropriately. It should have been done long ago. There is no way to avoid the coming confrontation with the New Axis of Evil: Russia, Iran, China and North Korea. Right now, we have the USS Champlain, USS Meyer and USS Murphy, along with a nuclear weapon launch submarine en route to the Korean peninsula. We also have a military presence in the South China Sea. So now we are facing military threats on at least three fronts, four if you count the Straits of Hormuz.

From The Sun:

The command centre for the two countries and allied groups released a joint statement today saying they would ‘respond to future breaches of red lines with force’.

RUSSIA and Iran have said they will respond to further American military actions following the air strike in Syria last week.

In a joint statement, the command centre for the two countries and allied groups said: “We will respond to any aggression.”

The statement read: “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”

The warning comes on the same day that:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani strongly condemned the missile strikes as a “flagrant US aggression on Syria.” Iran is financing Assad and is a strong ally. They are interested in Syria’s seaports. Rouhani is calling for an impartial investigation into the chemical attack that killed at least 83 people. In other words, the UN, which is now populated by dictators, communists and radical Islamists. He warned that the American strikes in response risked escalating extremism in the region, reported Iranian state television. Let me translate… that means Iran will unleash even more terrorist strikes. Russia is in this for geographic control and energy resources.

In a phone call with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Rouhani told him: “Allegations that Syria launched the chemical attack were just a pretext to disrupt the Syrian peace process.” The evidence that Syria propagated the attack is overwhelming. The rebels do not have the funds or the technology to mass produce Sarin. They also don’t have a delivery system. I understand the plane that dropped the Sarin was a Russian plane outfitted for just such a move. But it could have been Syrian aircraft just as easily.

President Trump has had massive support for his military move across the planet. Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Australia, France, Germany and the EU as a whole have voiced their strong support for the missile strike.

But Assad is doubling down and is now bombing the same town he gassed. The Syrian state news agency SANA said Assad told Rouhani the Syrian people and army were “determined to crush terrorism in every part of Syrian territory” – a reference to the rebels who have been fighting his bloody rule for six years. He also thanked Rouhani for Iran’s support for “the Syrian nation.” In a speech on Sunday, Rouhani also criticized US-allied Gulf Arab states for endorsing the missile strike. He said: “Unfortunately, there are countries in our own region which encourage America’s acts of aggression.” He warned: “Your turn will come too.” We will see what develops this week… the war drums are deafening now.

The diplomatic row was sparked by the US bombing a Syrian airbase (pictured) in response to Assad’s chemical weapon attacks.

The strike was designed to warn Assad not to use chemical weapons on his citizens.

04/10/17

Obama’s “Complicated” Lies About Syria

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

The mainstream media have not challenged the claim that chemical weapons were used by Syrian and/or Russian forces. Hence, they have been forced to explain how they were used when Obama officials previously claimed they had been removed from Syria. It’s another new low for a press corps that was eager to regurgitate whatever the Obama administration had claimed as a success in foreign policy.

The New York Times article entitled, “Weren’t Syria’s Chemical Weapons Destroyed? It’s Complicated,” is a fascinating exercise in trying to rationalize why Obama officials lied when they claimed Syria’s chemical arsenal had been eliminated.

It seems that lies are “complicated” to explain.

According to the Scott Shane article, President Barack Obama had declared that “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.” Later, Secretary of State John Kerry had declared, “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

So they lied. Right? Wrong. It’s a complicated matter.

According to the Times, Kerry and others had tried to refer to the elimination of Syria’s “declared” stocks. This was “a nuance often lost in news reports,” the Times said.

So when Kerry talked about eliminating “100 percent” of the weapons, that isn’t really what he meant.

Shane goes on to report, with a straight face, “Despite the failure to completely eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, Obama administration officials and outside experts considered the program fundamentally a success.”

A failure is a success.

At the time, the Times ran a story by Michael R. Gordon under the headline, “U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms.” It began: “The United States and Russia reached a sweeping agreement on Saturday that called for Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014 and indefinitely stalled the prospect of American airstrikes.”

Those airstrikes had been threatened by Obama.

The Times said the agreement, titled “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons,” called for the “complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment” during the first half of 2014.

There doesn’t seem to be any “nuance” in that report. The phrase “complete elimination” is self-explanatory.

Here are some other references from the “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons:”

  • Syria will submit “a comprehensive listing, including names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.”
  • “We set ambitious goals for the removal and destruction of all categories of CW related materials and equipment” (emphasis added).

The Kerry quote, “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” was uttered on the July 20th, 2014 edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Here is more of Kerry’s statement: “Russia was constructive and helpful and worked at that effort. Russia has been constructive in helping to remove 100 percent of the declared chemical weapons from Syria. In fact, that was an agreement we made months ago. And it never faltered, even during these moments of conflict.”

NBC News, on August 18, 2014, highlighted Kerry’s statement that “the United States has finished eliminating Syrian President Bashar Assad’s declared chemical weapons arsenal aboard the U.S. cargo vessel MV Cape Ray in international waters.”

NBC also noted this Obama statement:

“Today we mark an important achievement in our ongoing effort to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction by eliminating Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.” In this statement, with the reference to “declared chemical weapons,” we see that Obama was playing fast and loose with the truth, or using “nuance,” as the Times indicated. Kerry had been using it, too.

So where were the media demands for an explanation of the use of the term “declared” and what exactly it was supposed to mean?

When Obama had issued a statement on the U.S.-Russian “Agreement on Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons,” the word “undeclared” was not there. Obama said, “This framework provides the opportunity for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a transparent, expeditious, and verifiable manner, which could end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but to the region and the world.”

Over at The Washington Post, where “democracy dies in darkness,” we find a number of stories about the alleged complete elimination of Syrian chemical weapons.

On September 15, 2013, the Post reported, “The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on a plan to bring Syrian chemical weapons under international control, a rare diplomatic victory in a brutal civil war that appears to head off a punitive U.S. military strike on Syria in the near future.” On October 31, 2013, the Post reported that inspectors “confirmed today that the government of the Syrian Arab Republic has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable.”

Incredibly, the Post has now run a column stating that “A chemical weapons attack in Syria exposes Trump’s Assad problem,” rather than that it exposes Obama’s failure.

The author, Ishaan Tharoor, who writes about foreign affairs for the paper, found fault with Trump officials for highlighting Obama’s failed Syria policy. “It’s seemingly a bizarre line of attack for the Trump administration to choose,” he wrote. But why? What has happened to holding the government accountable?

Obama’s policy was more than a failure. It was a carefully crafted lie, concocted with the collaboration of the Russians, which was designed to deceive the American people into believing that the weapons had been eliminated.

On the left, the media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), has also been performing mental gymnastics in trying to defend the failed agreement. The group does not dispute that the Syrians used chemical weapons and that the alleged sarin attacks on the Syrian city of Idlib “strongly suggest the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] campaign didn’t fulfill its promise of ridding Syria of chemical weapons. But this is only a criticism of the program’s overall efficacy, not its actual existence.”

In other words, the OPCW failed, but it actually succeeded.

FAIR defended the work of the OPCW by saying that the attack could have been worse! Writer Reed Richardson said that “…it is worth pondering what greater atrocities the Syrian people might have suffered with 1,300 metric tons more chemical weapons remaining in the country…”

Of course, according to this logic, we don’t really know how many chemical weapons were left in Syria. The regime could have hundreds, or even thousands of tons of weapons still available.

Whether the Sarin attack was carried out by the regime or its Russians backers is beside the point. The media have accepted the evidence provided to them by their sources. The issue is that acceptance of this evidence blows apart their previous narrative that Obama had saved the people of Syria from future gas attacks.

Another point that has to be made is that Obama trusted the Russians to participate in the disarmament of their client state, and Obama now comes across looking like a complete dupe of the Vladimir Putin regime.

But wasn’t Trump supposed to be the Russian agent?


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

04/8/17

Nikki Haley Receives Text At UN: “Thank you for what you said today. It’s so good to see America lead.”

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | Right Wing News

Nikki Haley received a surprise text at the United Nations. It allegedly said, “Thank you for what you said today. It’s so good to see America lead.” I’m not surprised she got that text. For all I know, that could have been Israel sending it, but it is indeed good to see actual leadership in America again. I know that many Trump supporters don’t agree with me. They claim we should not be the global police and should not interfere in other country’s affairs. I’ve got news for all of you… what happens globally affects America period. You may not want conflict or war, but other countries don’t give a damn about that. You may not believe in war, but it believes in us.

We have waited years for various gassing attacks in Syria to be investigated and for the United Nations to do something, anything and we are still waiting. I think that what President Trump did this week was the right thing to do and it sent not only Syria, but Russia, Iran, China and North Korea a strong message that there is a new sheriff in town and he doesn’t play with red lines and rhetoric. He’s deadly serious about stopping our enemies and have no doubt that Syria, Russia, Iran, China and North Korea are just that… American enemies. Grow up… this isn’t some theoretical reality where we can just turn our back on the world. This is real life and we have to stop these evil blackhats before they attack America. Hesitation is viewed as weakness and acquiescence.

From the Independent Review Journal:

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley boldly confronted Russia and Syria during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Wednesday, staring down the Russian ambassador in moment that went viral.

“How many more children have to die before Russia cares?” she asked the Russian ambassador in front of the world.

Later that night, Haley made an appearance at the Women in the World Summit in New York City and revealed the text message she subsequently received from another member of the U.N. Security Council.

“Thank you for what you said today. It’s so good to see America lead,” the text reportedly read.

Haley insinuated that the message was meaningful to her because leading is exactly “what we’re trying to do.”

There is nothing that will move a heart like watching dozens of children… babies… die horrifically. Assad and the Russians could care less. Given the opportunity, they would use that tactic anywhere they land if it won them power, wealth, real estate and natural resources. Nikki Haley is right here. It is long past time we act like the world leaders we are. No nation building… but when tyrants kill the innocent and rage unabated and someone needs to step in, we have a moral obligation to do so. And we have a military presence that should show strength, not the cowardice the Obama administration mandated.

“The way you lead is to make sure they know what you’re for, they know what you’re against, and they never question where you are,” Haley added. Exactly right. You actually LEAD, you don’t vacillate. President Trump’s actions this week in response to a chemical attack by Assad against his own, shows a definitive shift in America military policy. And don’t say, “Well, it could have been the rebels!” No, it wasn’t. They would have no way of dispersing those chemical agents since they don’t have planes and Assad and Russia always blame these actions on their victims. It’s right out of their playbooks.

Our allies are cheering the action and breathing a huge sigh of relief. Our enemies are calling it an act of aggression. It’s an act as old as time. But President Trump is no ‘lead from behind’ president as Barack Obama was. Peace through strength has once again taken center stage.

04/7/17

Cruise missile strike in Syria: Assad regime – and Russia – on notice

By: J.E. Dyer | Liberty Unyielding

USS Ross (DDG-71) launches a Tomahawk missile at Syria’s Shayrat Air Base from the Med, 7 Apr 2017. (Image: USN, PO3 Robert S. Price)

In the early morning hours of 7 April in Syria – between 8 and 10 PM Eastern on 6 April, in the U.S. – two U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers began launching Tomahawk cruise missiles at an air base in Syria just east of the city of Homs.  In total, the ships launched at least 59 cruise missiles.  All were reportedly directed at the single air base, indicating the attack was meant to take the facility out of operation.

President Donald Trump, in a recorded address (video below), explained that USS Ross (DDG-71) and USS Porter (DDG-78) were striking the air base in Syria from which the chemical weapons attack that inflicted ghastly damage on civilians in Idlib Province was launched on Tuesday.

The target, according to the latest reporting, was Shayrat Air Base, located about 15 miles southeast of Homs.  Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin indicated in the 10 PM hour that the Pentagon would be providing a track of the Syrian Su-24 Fencer – a tactical bomber – that it says conducted the chemical weapons attack on 4 April.  In other words, the U.S. military has direct evidence that the attacking aircraft was a Syrian bomber jet.  (This is not only feasible, it’s probable and routine.)

Shayrat Air Base was never one of Assad’s biggest, most developed bases.  It is overshadowed by T4 air base (often referred to as Tiyas Air Base) further east, which has been the front line of the fight against ISIS for some months now.

Overview of area where Shayrat Air Base was struck with U.S. cruise missiles 7 Apr 2017. (Google map; author annotation)

But Shayrat has seen a lot of use for combat logistics in the last 18 months.  The Russians persistently denied it, but there have been numerous reports that they made improvements to Shayrat in 2015 in order to use it as a base.  And Arabic and social media have recorded Russian helicopters making use of Shayrat as an interim base for logistics stops, including mission refueling.  (Fox reports that the U.S. military used its hotline with Russian forces to give them warning of the attack.)

Some reporting has indicated that the Iranians have delivered weapons and materiel there too, and that “Iranian squadrons” were to operate from the base once it was improved by the Russians.  (The Iranian presence in T4/Tiyas has been better documented.)

(See The Tower’s report here.)

The Russians’ use of the base means, at a minimum, that the U.S. has put Russia as well as the Assad regime on notice that there will be no tolerance for chemical weapons attacks.

Syrian facilities implicated in 4 April chemical weapons attack in Idlib Province. (Google map; author annotation)

Shayrat’s use for launching a chemical weapons attack makes sense, given its proximity to the Al-Furqlus storage facility for Assad’s chemical weapons, which is located about 11 miles north-northwest of Shayrat Air Base, just east of Homs.  Shayrat itself stored chemical weapons prior to 2011, and given its regular operational use, probably has chemical weapons prepared for deployment located next to the taxiways on occasion.  It is not thought to be a main storage site now, however.

Notably, the Israeli Air Force is long thought to have attacked another chemical weapons facility in south Homs, closer to the city center, in 2013.

And the IAF reportedly attacked a Syrian air base between Homs and Palmyra the night of 16-17 March, when the Syrian regime launched anti-air missiles at the IAF strike-fighters.  The base in question was thought to be T4, and the reason for the attack: an Iranian delivery of special weapons intended for Hezbollah.

The U.S. engagement in Syria – which ramped up last month with the deployment of Marines to Raqqa – has thus clearly entered a new phase.  Since 2014, our air activities in Syria have been limited to attacking emergent ISIS targets, almost all in northern Syria.  U.S. forces have been kept out of the fight in western Syria, where Russia and Iran have ruled the roost.

Now, however, we have struck into the heart of Assad’s center of gravity: the part of Syria where he maintains his operational strength and hosts the principal regional outpost of Iran.  The corridor from Damascus to Homs is Assad’s core.  Iran has made use of it as a line of communication with Hezbollah and Hamas for decades.

At the moment, we have no preview of any further military intentions for U.S. forces in this part of Syria.  The U.S. reportedly intends to reenergize the Geneva talks on Syria and negotiate to get Assad removed from power – something it would have been preferable to do in 2011, if we had had an administration with the vision and competence for it.  It’s not clear how feasible it will be in 2017.

The backlash from tonight’s work hasn’t been previewed yet either.  I don’t fear for regional “stability,” which isn’t likely to change much merely from the cruise missile attack.  But within a couple of weeks, the overall conditions for negotiation will have changed, because of the scramble set off by the U.S. action.  It will be interesting to see how Trump’s team takes the challenge on.

It can’t do worse than Obama’s.  My sense at the moment is that Trump – if he wants to – can quickly assume the “catbird seat” that Putin has been angling to occupy in settling the future of Syria.  Most of the various players – Turkey, the Arabs (the Saudis, Jordan, Egypt), Iraq – would be enthusiastic about having a strong America to act as a great-power broker.  Russia can live with it, if Trump accepts that Russia has legitimate interests in Syria.  I think Trump would do that.

The wild card will be Iran.  But I’d expect Iran to try to lie low for now in Syria, and avoid losing too much rather than try to keep it all by keeping Assad in power, through some confrontational means.  Iran has fingers in a lot of pies now, and usually takes the long view.  Unless Trump starts striking targets in Lebanon, Iran is probably prepared to let even Assad go, if that’s what it takes to keep the U.S. out of deeper political and military involvement in Syria.

The ball is very much in Trump’s court now.  For my money, he needs, at the moment, to keep a rally going.  The conditions aren’t right yet for a decisive point against anyone – other than perhaps Assad.

USS Porter goes through her paces in this video from DOD.  Stick with it for the best smoke plumes.

04/6/17

US Strikes Syria With 60 Tomahawk Missiles [VIDEO]

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | Right Wing News

I started to hear rumors of this late today and it has now happened. My sources say that the US launched 60 Tomahawk missiles at Syria just a short time ago. This is in response to a chemical weapons attack this week that killed 83 people… including 25 children and at least 350 injured. President Trump had said earlier today that something needed to be done. At the same time Rex Tillerson warned the Russians that we would be moving against Assad and to choose who they side with carefully. No time was wasted and now we wait to see if we actually took out Assad and what the repercussions militarily will be.

I understand that two different airfields were taken out, so I doubt that Assad was ‘removed’ from his position of power, but we’ll see. The missiles took out large portions of the military infrastructure there in Syria. Destroyers in the Mediterranean launched the missiles into Syria. This happened fast and I predicted it earlier today. However, I didn’t see it happening this fast. I am now getting other reports from CNN and a friendly source that it was 60 missiles. Our warships have been training for two days for this, so this was decided right after the attack. I have also heard that Iran sent two transports to remove personnel from Syria. Russia was pulling people out as well.

From Fox News:

The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield early Friday in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians.

The Tomahawk missile strikes destroyed portions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military infrastructure. Fox has learned there was one primary target an airbase in Shayrat, located outside Homs, a US official tells Fox News

The military plans called for 43 Tomahawks to be fired from the USS Porter and USS Ross. The two Destroyers in the Med can carry 70 Tomahawks altogether.

US defense officials tell Fox the two warships have been training for the past two days to execute this mission.

“Our forward deployed ships give us the capability to quickly respond to threats… these strikes in Syria are a perfect example – this is why we’re there,” said a Navy official.

“Our forward deployed ships give us the capability to quickly respond to threats,” said a Naval official. “These strikes in Syria are a perfect example – this is why we’re there.” From President Trump earlier today: “I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes and shouldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Florida, where he was holding a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The strike came as Trump was hosting Xi in meetings focused in part on another pressing US security dilemma: North Korea’s nuclear program. Trump’s actions in Syria could signal to China that the new president isn’t afraid of unilateral military steps, even if key nations like China are standing in the way. This acts also as an obvious warning to both China and North Korea… we are no longer playing games.

This may be what I have predicted which is full scale war. It will all depend on how the new Axis of Evil: Russia, China and Iran react to the strike. Things are about to get hot militarily. Buckle up America.

04/6/17

Rex Tillerson Warns Assad That America Is Coming For Him… Puts Russia And Iran On Notice [VIDEO]

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | I Have The Truth

The Trump administration has undergone a major shift in policy towards Syria and Assad in the last 24 hours. After a horrific chemical attack on Syrians by Assad, Rex Tillerson is now saying that the US is organizing a coalition to remove Assad from power there. This goes directly against the Russians and Iranians who have provided cover for Assad from the beginning. I have sources informing me that the US military watched a Syrian fixed wing aircraft drop the bombs that hit a hospital with a nerve agent and this was after the first chemical weapon bomb was dropped. The aircraft used was likely a Russian aircraft that was on loan to Assad. The evidence that the White House and State Department has seen on this attack is damning and monstrous.

“It is very important that the Russian government consider carefully their continued support for the Assad regime,” Tillerson said. Yes, it is… and if we step into this, Americans need to realize this is not just a fight against Assad and ISIS. The minute we commit military might in this fight, we take on the Russians, Iranians and Chinese. In other words, this could be a world war and there will be no turning back. Our military leaders have been predicting this for some time. And don’t forget, we have the North Korean problem to deal with and soon. This is the new Axis of Evil I have written on for years now. The time to dance is upon us.

From the Washington Examiner:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that steps are “underway” to organize an “international community effort” to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, a major policy shift triggered by the latest chemical weapons attack in the country’s ongoing civil war.

“With the acts that he has taken, it would seem that there would be no rule for him to govern the Syrian people,” Tillerson told reporters. “The process by which Assad would leave is something that I think requires and international community effort, both to first defeat ISIS within Syria, to stabilize the Syrian country to avoid further civil war, and then to work collectively with our partners around the world through a political process that would lead to Assad leaving.”

Tillerson added that “those steps are underway” already.

It’s a marked shift from last week, when Tillerson told reporters in Turkey that Assad’s future would be up to the Syrian people — an apparent departure from former President Barack Obama’s stated position that he had to leave power. And it adds a new layer of complexity to Tillerson’s upcoming trip to Moscow, as Russia has provided Assad with major military and diplomatic support.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government is now indicating that Assad might not enjoy “unconditional support” from them, as they disclaimed responsibility for the Syrian gas attack. “It is not correct to say that Moscow can convince Mr. Assad to do whatever is wanted in Moscow,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “This is totally wrong.” So, there is a slim chance that the Russians may back down. I doubt the Iranians will, but we will see. A show of force from the US under the Trump administration may be enough to contain this. I have my doubts.

“There is no doubt in our minds and the information we have supports that the Syria, the Syrian regime under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad, are responsible for this attack,” Tillerson said. As I pointed out earlier, they have intel we have not seen and I understand there is no doubt on this at all now. The US blames Assad for a chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, a rebel-controlled town in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. The attack left 72 people dead and possibly hundreds more wounded. Originally, it was claimed that the rebels had hidden chemical weapons in a warehouse and that when blown up, they spread. But that is being disproven as I write this. The rebels also have no way of dispersing a chemical weapon even if they had one.

Tillerson was asked whether the US is considering military strikes against the Syrian government: “We are considering an appropriate response for this chemical weapons attack, which violates all previous U.N. resolutions, violates international norms and long-held agreements between parties including the Syrian regime, the Russian government and all other members of the Security Council,” he said. According to a CNN report today, members of Congress told the network that President Donald Trump has told them the US has considered a military response to the gas attack as one of its options. CBS reported that military options could include cruise missile strikes from Navy ships targeting command and control operations, suspected chemical weapons facilities and military forces.

“…we think its time that the Russians really need to think carefully about their continued support of the Assad regime,” Tillerson said Wednesday. “Those who defend and support him, including Russia and Iran, should have no illusions about Assad or his intentions. Anyone who uses chemical weapons to attack his own people shows a fundamental disregard for human decency and must be held accountable,” Tillerson added. We are quickly running out of options and the war drums are ever louder now. Assad should know that America is preparing to come for him and soon.