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Quote of the Month 
(but I'm not sure which one)

Wolin embodied the qualities Weber ascribes to the hero. He struggled against forces he knew he could not vanquish. He never wavered in the fight as an intellectual and, more important, in the fight as a citizen. He was one of the first to explain to us the transformation of our capitalist democracy into a new species of totalitarianism.
-- Chris Hedges, eulogy for Sheldon Weldon

~ Dec22, 2015 ~

From the 
Spook-Sources Dept.

Sorting out Sy Hersh's gumbo of anonymous sources  

Sy Hersh knows how to write award winning exposés, no question there.  But I find his reliance on spook-sources really over the top.  

Part of the problem in following what Hersh is trying to say is that none of his anonymous sources have names, which is what makes them so durn'd anonymous.  And not havin' names, it is just really hard to keep track of who says what.  Of course, one could argue that with them all being anonymous it really doesn't make any difference who says what because you can't verify anything anybody says anyway.  This is not scholarship, IOW.  It is somewhere in the grey zone between yellow journalism and comic book fiction.  I mean, IMO, any writing that can't be completely verified must be presumed to be fiction. 

Hersh piece "Military to Military" LRB, Vol38, Jan01|16 came out this week and it's a perfect example of my problem with following Hersh's multiple spook-sources.  So to help both you and me get through the piece, I have parsed it according to Hersh's sources.  In the left column below is each source Hersh quotes; in the left column are the main points taken from that source. 

I count an even dozen sources.  Of those, 5 are named.  But if you look closely, three of the named sources add essentially nothing to the article.  They are just gratuitous filler.  Tulsi Gabbard tells Hersh, for instance, that some people in Congress support her position.  OK, we could do without that, but it makes Hersh's article look more legit by having at least few, token named sources. 

But here's the thing: because most of Hersh's sources are anonymous, we can't tell whether or not some of them are the same people referred to in different capacities.  Hell, they could all be the same guy for all we can tell.  

And one more point: This is an article about Obama wanting to take out Assad and yet not one time does Hersh remind us of Obama and Kerry's most powerful and highly repeated meme -- "Assad gassed his own people."  I mean, how many dozens of times did we hear that back in 2013-14 in the run up to the aborted attack on Syria?  But we never hear it any more, not even in a piece explaining how badly Obama wants Assad out of Syria.  Wonder whatever happened to that old meme . . . 

Don't get me wrong, Hersh's article is worth having a look at.  It is not limited to the points listed below; he provides a lot of content and context derived from news articles and public statements by Obama and others.  I am just trying to inventory the spook-sources so the article is a little easier to follow.

 

Source

Points

A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs Refers to a "highly classified assessment" by Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

Assessment ID'd Turkey as impediment to Obama's Syria policy

Turkey co-opted USG policy of arming just moderate terrorists

JCS was against removing Assad

W/out Obama's knowledge, JCS passed intel to countries who would pass it to Assad's  Syrian Arab Army (SAA) -- Germany, Israel, Russia. [Israel?? Hersh is going to have us believe that Israel is cooperating with Syria??  And his only source is this spook?] 

Assad wanted "head of Prince Bandar" as payment for cooperating w/ USG.  

Obama authorized shipments of Gaddafi's arms to terrorists in Syria

CIA's camp for training Syrian terrorists was in Jordan

Saudis ignored Brennan's demand in 2014 that they stop funding Da'esh and al-Nursra.

US intelligence assessment concluded that Putin had been appalled by Gaddafi’s fate

Russia jammed Turk radar as a message: "Do no fuck with us."

Hollande's objective in flyint to Washington on Nov24|15 was to convince Obama to join w/ EU in declaring war against Da'esh. 

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, DIA director 2012-2014 DIA sent warnings to admin re: dire consequences for removing Assad.  Obama ignored them. 

Also stiffs Turkey. 

State Dept. cables exposed by WikiLeaks Bush tried to destablize Syria, and these efforts were taken over by Obama.
A longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command After 9/11 Assad was extremely helpful to USG, including intel used to prevent al_Qaeda attack on 5th Fleet HQ and torturing terrorist suspects for USG. 

Contemptuous of Obama Syria policy. ‘The solution in Syria is right before our nose,’ he said. ‘Our primary threat is Isis [sic, Isis is an Egyptian goddess] and all of us – the United States, Russia and China – need to work together. Bashar will remain in office and, after the country is stabilised there will be an election. There is no other option.’

A senior adviser to the Kremlin on Middle East affairs 2012 Assad approached Government of Ysrael (GoY) to reopen talks on Golan

the first round of Russian airstrikes in Syria for security around  Russian airbase in Latakia. To establish jihadist-free corridor from Damascus to Latakia. To shift the focus of bombing gradually to the SE  with greater concentration of bombing IS-held territory.

There are no moderates. 

A former White House adviser on Russian affairs Putin used to say: "We have the same nightmares about different places."
A retired senior diplomat who served at the US embassy in Moscow The reality is that Putin does not want to see the chaos in Syria spread to Jordan or Lebanon, as it has to Iraq, and he does not want to see Syria end up in the hands of Isis [sic, Isis is an Egyptian goddess].

Putin had watched a video of Gaddafi’s savage death three times, a video that shows him being sodomised with a bayonet.

Imad Moustapha, Syria’s ambassador to China Assad will never concede power

China has committed $30Bn to post-war construction and is also concerned about Da'esh.

There is a lot of tension between China and Turkey over Syria

A Washington foreign affairs analyst . . ."whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials" ‘Erdogan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.’
Christina Lin, a scholar who dealt with Chinese issues a decade ago Gratuitous comments re: China concerned about Uighurs trained by Da'esh and returning to China. 
Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel Gratuitous comments re: Comments on Flynn getting booted out of USG. 
Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and member of the House Armed Services Committee Gratuitous comments re: Congresspeople have privately supported her attacks on Obama's Syria policy 
   

 

 

 

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