‘I don’t believe a word of it’ – CIA whistleblower on US intelligence about Syria chemical attack
On Wednesday Russia vetoed a UN resolution backed by the US and other Western powers, condemning the Khan Shaykhun incident on April 4 as a chemical attack and demanding Syria opens up its military bases to inspections.
After the vote, Russia's representative said the action taken by the US before an investigation had been held, was a violation of international law.
RT asked John Kiriakou, former CIA analyst, and whistleblower, whether supporters of Washington's resolution will try to push for it again.
“I think they will. They usually do. The problem here though is that the UN should have been the first stop for US diplomacy. Rather than acting unilaterally and firing 59 cruise missiles, the State Department should have engaged the UN Security Council from the very beginning,” he said.
As to why the UN voted on the resolution without any clear evidence of Assad's culpability for the Idlib incident and the logic behind it, Kiriakou opined “they were afraid of the conclusion.”
“There are professional intelligence officers on every side of this issue who are saying that everybody needs to slow down and look at the source of these chemicals. There are people on the ground, who are telling many of us that these chemicals were in a storage facility that is controlled by ISIS, that the Syrian military launched a conventional attack, and hit the storage facility – this was not a chemical attack by the Syrian government. We frankly don’t know what the facts are. We don’t know because it just simply hasn't been investigated. I think the US and its allies on the Security Council need to slow down, need to send in UN inspectors to take a look, get the facts on the ground, and then report back to the Security Council. This bombing should never have taken place,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, Rex Tillerson was meeting with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin while on his first official visit to Russia as US Secretary of State.
He reiterated that the US are “quite confident” that the “chemical weapons attack carried out in Syria was planned, and directed, and executed by Syrian regime forces.” Earlier, the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said “We saw the evidence. The President saw the evidence. All of that is naturally classified.”
Kiriakou doesn’t rule out though that American politicians “are making this stuff up.”
“If they’ve already heard from their intelligence assets inside Syria - wow, they must have incredible assets inside Syria, because this [incident in Idlib] just happened. This whole story hasn’t even played out yet. So, how they’ve already got all the intelligence and analyzed it and then were able to use the analysis to formulate a policy that then enabled the President to bomb Syria?” he said. “If that’s true, I congratulate the CIA for its intelligence network inside Syria. The problem is – I don’t believe a word of it.”
In Kiriakou’s opinion, the US bombing of a Syrian airbase that followed the chemical incident was a political decision made by the White House who didn’t speak in advance with its allies.
“I don’t believe there was any intelligence. And I think this was done primarily for domestic consumption,” he said.
‘Designed to be vetoed’
The reason why the US-supported resolution was “rushed to the floor” is because “they wanted to be able to make their points,” said Daniel McAdams, executive director at the Ron Paul Institute.
“They wanted to be able to bash Syria, Russia, and Iran,” he told RT.
The analyst drew a parallel between the resolution and the Rambouillet Agreement – a US/NATO peace plan for Kosovo proposed to the then-Yugoslavia.
“Ironically we’re around the anniversary of the 1999 US bombings of Yugoslavia. But if you remember in Rambouillet [Slobodan] Milosevic and the government of Yugoslavia was presented with an agreement that there is no way they could sign, they would have opened the entire country to NATO forces. It was designed that way. It was designed to be vetoed to show recalcitrance to open the way for bombs. This is very reminiscent of this kind of approach. It is not a very serious approach. Although the consequences could be very serious,” he told RT.
McAdams also said that there’s already “a problem with a chain of evidence” regarding what happened in Khan Shaykhun.
“What is amazing – there has been no investigation whatsoever. The White House released a report [the day before] yesterday - this was a slam dunk as to what the US believes, that it was Assad who did it. But if you look at that report, it was unbelievably thin. It reminds one of the reports that they released proving the Russians hacked the elections. The intelligence community didn’t even sign off on this report. It didn’t have high confidence in the report,” he said.
While in Moscow, Tillerson reaffirmed the US administration's view that the Assad era is coming to an end.
According to Joshua Landis from Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, the US has “certainly changed its rhetoric on Assad recently.”
“What it seems to be doing is finding the Obama doctrine in a sense falling in line with what President Obama did on Syria – a red line saying that Assad needed to step aside, but not actually doing anything to force him to step from office. That’s what we heard from the National Security advisor yesterday, who said: ‘Assad has to go, but it is not going to be America that makes him go,'” he told RT.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.