Connect with us

Latest

News

Staff Picks

US admits it has no idea who attacked Aleppo UN humanitarian convoy

As top US officials admit they do not know who attacked the Aleppo relief convoy all prospects of an impartial investigation fade away.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

4,587 Views

One of the overlooked comments US General Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made at the Senate hearing on Thursday, concerned the recent attack on the relief convoy near Aleppo, which has recently been so much in the news. 

Here is what he said

I don’t have the facts.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Russians are responsible.”

(bold italics added)

And here is what US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said, testifying at the same Senate hearing alongside General Dunford

“The Russians are responsible for this strike whether they conducted it or not.”

(bold italics added)

In other words, despite the tidal wave of claims which have been flowing saying the Russians attacked the convoy, and despite the claims to that effect made by the anonymous US officials who have been prowling behind the scenes through the Western media, the US does not actually know that the Russians attacked the convoy.  US General Dunford “doesn’t have the facts” and US Defence Secretary Carter cannot say whether the Russians “conducted (the attack) or not”

I presume Dunford and Carter, respectively the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Secretary of Defence, are the sort of people who would know if US intelligence was reporting that the Russians carried out the attack.  I can see no reason why they would fail to say that the Russians carried out the attack if that is what US intelligence was actually reporting.  The fact that they are saying that they don’t know must mean that US intelligence – and therefore the US government – doesn’t know either.  

Basically what the US is saying is: we know it wasn’t us; it could only therefore have been the Syrians or the Russians; only the Russians have the necessary technology and two of their SU24s were in the area; therefore it must have been the Russians.

This is not knowledge or evidence but a chain of inference.

To confuse matters, judging by a piece by the Moon of Alabama, the US story appears to have shifted so that the US is now apparently claiming that both the Syrians and the Russians jointly carried out the attack.

It is sometimes possible to infer the truth of who was behind a particular attack by looking at the evidence, but can it actually be done in this case?  The short answer I would say is no. 

Since the attack is being called by some a war crime, it would seem a basic step first to secure and inspect what in that case would be a crime scene before drawing any inferences and making any accusations.  Almost a week after the attack not only has that not been done, but no one seems to be in any hurry to do it.

With the crime scene not secured, the possibility of contamination or outright manipulation of the evidence is very real, especially given the strong incentive to do so of the Jihadi fighters who are in physical control of it.  After all that is what many claim the Jihadi fighters did to the scene of the chemical attack on Ghouta in August 2013. 

In light of this photographs which have been circulating, which supposedly show the fin of a Russian bomb at the scene of the attack, can carry no weight, and must be disregarded, especially as the bomb in question appears to be one of the most commonly used in Syria, which would make finding and planting a sample of one at the scene of the attack a relatively straightforward matter.

In the absence of any actual evidence that the Russians carried out the attack, the US and the Western media have fallen back on ridiculing what the Russians have said about it.  Unfortunately the clever way this has been done – notably by US Secretary of State Kerry at the UN Security Council – has confused many people, including someone as level headed as the veteran British correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

Briefly, and contrary to the impression given by Kerry and others, the Russians have not said how the convoy was attacked or by whom or how it came to be destroyed.  They have merely denied that they or the Syrians did it, and have provided commentaries on what they say is some of the evidence they have or which they have seen. 

That evidence includes a video which they say shows armed Jihadis shadowing the convoy in a vehicle equipped with a mortar, information that a US Predator drone was in the area, and analysis of video evidence of opposition activists which they suggest shows that the convoy was set on fire, and was not destroyed as the result of an air strike.

The Russian claims about armed Jihadis near the convoy and the US Predator drone in the area do not look to me like claims that the convoy was attacked because it was being used as cover by the Jihadis, or that the Jihadis blew up the convoy with a mortar, or that the US Predator drone attacked it – all claims I have seen alleged that the Russians have made.  The Russians have never made those claims, though others have done so on the strength of the commentary and evidence the Russians have provided. 

Rather these Russian claims seem to me intended to counter US claims that the Russians “must have” attacked the convoy because two of their SU24s were in the area.  The point the Russians are making is that if their SU24s were in the area, then so were the Jihadis and the US (in the form of the Predator drone), and to construe that it “must have been” the Russians who attacked the convoy merely because their SU24s happened to be in the area is therefore unwarranted.

As for the analysis of the video evidence that the convoy was set on fire, as the Russians have themselves admitted, that is purely speculative.  Without a proper inspection of the scene of the convoy attack one simply cannot know.

In my experience the invariable response of someone trying to cover up their involvement in a crime is to hit on a single made-up story of how the crime was committed, and to stick to it whilst providing an alibi.  That that is not what the Russians are doing does not prove them innocent, but it is definitely not the sign of guilt some are taking it for.  If anything it suggests that the Russians genuinely do not know what happened to the convoy, which might be why they are calling for the attack on the convoy to be independently investigated. 

All other things being equal, the fact the Russians are calling for an independent investigation also suggests that they are unlikely to have done it.  As a general rule someone who has committed a crime is usually the last person to call for an independent investigation of the crime, especially if the crime scene is not in their control.  If the Russians did attack the convoy – or if the Syrians attacked the convoy and the Russians know the Syrians attacked it – then the Russian demand for an investigation looks like a frankly reckless double-bluff.

Again none of this proves that the Russians are innocent.  Moreover anyone who wants to dispute the commentary or the evidence the Russians have put forward is at liberty to do so, though they do their credibility no favours if they do so by resorting to sarcasm and ridicule.  However it is interesting that so far it is the Russians who are calling for an investigation whilst none of those who are accusing them is doing so.

In the meantime I do not think it is worthwhile speculating on how the convoy was destroyed or by whom.  I do not think anywhere near enough facts are known to make it possible for anyone to say.  In the absence of a proper investigation – or even an inspection of the site of the attack – any claim can be no more than a guess.  If people like Dunford and Carter don’t have the necessary facts then it is impossible that anyone else commenting on what happened from afar can have either.

Sadly I must also say that I do not think that how the convoy came to be attacked or by whom will ever be known.  Quite simply those who are in a position to find out the truth are not interested in doing so. 

For the US the attack on the convoy came at a very convenient moment, when it was on the defensive following its attack on the Syrian troops defending Deir Ezzor.  Whilst that does not mean it was the US which attacked the convoy or which ordered the attack on the convoy  – for the record, I don’t think the US did either of those things – it does mean that the US has no incentive to find out the truth of what happened in case that might undermine a story that has served it so well. 

With the US’s proxies in control of the scene of the attack that all but guarantees that no proper investigation of this incident will ever take place, which in turn means that the truth of what happened will never become known.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

New York Times hit piece on Trump and NATO exposes alliance as outdated and obsolete (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the New York Times hit piece citing anonymous sources, with information that the U.S. President dared to question NATO’s viability.

Propaganda rag, the NYT, launched its latest presidential smear aimed at discrediting Trump and provoking the establishment, warmonger left into more impeachment – Twenty-fifth Amendment talking points.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via The American Conservative


The New York Times scored a serious scoop when it revealed on Monday that President Trump had questioned in governmental conversations—on more than one occasion, apparently—America’s membership in NATO. Unfortunately the paper then slipped into its typical mode of nostrum journalism. My Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “nostrum” as “quack medicine” entailing “exaggerated claims.” Here we had quack journalism executed in behalf of quack diplomacy.

The central exaggerated claim is contained in the first sentence, in which it is averred that NATO had “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is wrong, as can be seen through just a spare amount of history.

True, NATO saved Europe from the menace of Russian Bolshevism. But it did so not over 70 years but over 40 years—from 1949 to 1989. That’s when the Soviet Union had 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops poised on Western Europe’s doorstep, positioned for an invasion of Europe through the lowlands of Germany’s Fulda Gap.

How was this possible? It was possible because Joseph Stalin had pushed his armies farther and farther into the West as the German Wehrmacht collapsed at the end of World War II. In doing so, and in the process capturing nearly all of Eastern Europe, he ensured that the Soviets had no Western enemies within a thousand miles of Leningrad or within 1,200 miles of Moscow. This vast territory represented not only security for the Russian motherland (which enjoys no natural geographical barriers to deter invasion from the West) but also a potent staging area for an invasion of Western Europe.

The first deterrent against such an invasion, which Stalin would have promulgated had he thought he could get away with it, was America’s nuclear monopoly. By the time that was lost, NATO had emerged as a powerful and very necessary deterrent. The Soviets, concluding that the cost of an invasion was too high, defaulted to a strategy of undermining Western interests anywhere around the world where that was possible. The result was global tensions stirred up at various global trouble spots, most notably Korea and Vietnam.

But Europe was saved, and NATO was the key. It deserves our respect and even reverence for its profound success as a military alliance during a time of serious threat to the West.

But then the threat went away. Gone were the 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops. Gone was Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Indeed, gone, by 1991, was the Soviet Union itself, an artificial regime of brutal ideology superimposed upon the cultural entity of Mother Russia. It was a time for celebration.

But it was also a time to contemplate the precise nature of the change that had washed over the world and to ponder what that might mean for old institutions—including NATO, a defensive military alliance created to deter aggression from a menacing enemy to the east. Here’s where Western thinking went awry. Rather than accepting as a great benefit the favorable developments enhancing Western security—the Soviet military retreat, the territorial reversal, the Soviet demise—the West turned NATO into a territorial aggressor of its own, absorbing nations that had been part of the Soviet sphere of control and pushing right up to the Russian border. Now Leningrad (renamed St. Petersburg after the obliteration of the menace of Soviet communism) resides within a hundred miles of NATO military forces, while Moscow is merely 200 miles from Western troops.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has absorbed 13 nations, some on the Russian border, others bordering lands that had been part of Russia’s sphere of interest for centuries. This constitutes a policy of encirclement, which no nation can accept without protest or pushback. And if NATO were to absorb those lands of traditional Russian influence—particularly Ukraine and Georgia—that would constitute a major threat to Russian security, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to emphasize to Western leaders for years.

So, no, NATO has not deterred Russian aggression for 70 years. It did so for 40 and has maintained a destabilizing posture toward Russia ever since. The problem here is the West’s inability to perceive how changed geopolitical circumstances might require a changed geopolitical strategy. The encirclement strategy has had plenty of critics—George Kennan before he died; academics John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Robert David English; former diplomat Jack Matlock; the editors of The Nation. But their voices have tended to get drowned out by the nostrum diplomacy and the nostrum journalism that supports it at every turn.

You can’t drown out Donald Trump because he’s president of the United States. And so he has to be traduced, ridiculed, dismissed, and marginalized. That’s what the Times story, by Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper, sought to do. Consider the lead, designed to emphasize just how outlandish Trump’s musings are before the reader even has a chance to absorb what he may have been thinking: “There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” Translation: “Take that, Mr. President! You’re an idiot.”

Henry Kissinger had something interesting to say about Trump in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history,” said the former secretary of state, “who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” One Western pretense about Russia, so ardently enforced by the likes of Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper (who, it may be safe to say, know less about world affairs and their history than Henry Kissinger), is that nothing really changed with the Soviet collapse and NATO had to turn aggressive in order to keep that menacing nation in its place.

Trump clearly doesn’t buy that pretense. He said during the campaign that NATO was obsolete. Then he backtracked, saying he only wanted other NATO members to pay their fair share of the cost of deterrence. He even confessed, after Hillary Clinton identified NATO as “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world,” that he only said NATO was obsolete because he didn’t know much about it. But he was learning—enough, it appears, to support as president Montenegro’s entry into NATO in 2017. Is Montenegro, with 5,332 square miles and some 620,000 citizens, really a crucial element in Europe’s desperate project to protect itself against Putin’s Russia?

We all know that Trump is a crude figure—not just in his disgusting discourse but in his fumbling efforts to execute political decisions. As a politician, he often seems like a doctor attempting to perform open-heart surgery while wearing mittens. His idle musings about leaving NATO are a case in point—an example of a politician who lacks the skill and finesse to nudge the country in necessary new directions.

But Kissinger has a point about the man. America and the world have changed, while the old ways of thinking have not kept pace. The pretenses of the old have blinded the status quo defenders into thinking nothing has changed. Trump, almost alone among contemporary American politicians, is asking questions to which the world needs new answers. NATO, in its current configuration and outlook, is a danger to peace, not a guarantor of it.


Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Nigel Farage To Back Another “Vote Leave” Campaign If UK Holds Second Brexit Referendum

Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


Pro-European MPs from various political parties are pushing back against claims made by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government that a second Brexit referendum – which supporters have branded as a “People’s Vote” on May’s deal – would take roughly 14 months to organize, according to RT.

But while support for a second vote grows, one of the most notorious proponents of the original “Vote Leave” campaign is hinting at a possible return to politics to try and fight the effort.

After abandoning UKIP, the party he helped create, late last year, Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition. Farage also pointed out that a delay of Brexit Day would likely put it after the European Parliament elections in May.

“I think, I fear that the House of Commons is going to effectively overturn that Brexit. To me, the most likely outcome of all of this is an extension of Article 50. There could be another referendum,” he told Sky News.

According to official government guidance shown to lawmakers on Wednesday, which was subsequently leaked to the Telegraph, as May tries to head off a push by ministers who see a second referendum as the best viable alternative to May’s deal – a position that’s becoming increasingly popular with Labour Party MPs.

“In order to inform the discussions, a very short paper set out in factual detail the number of months that would be required, this was illustrative only and our position of course is that there will be no second referendum,,” May said. The statement comes as May has been meeting with ministers and leaders from all parties to try to find a consensus deal that could potentially pass in the House of Commons.

The 14 month estimate is how long May and her government expect it would take to pass the primary legislation calling for the referendum (seven months), conduct the question testing with the election committee (12 weeks), pass secondary legislation (six weeks) and conduct the campaigns (16 weeks).

May has repeatedly insisted that a second referendum wouldn’t be feasible because it would require a lengthy delay of Brexit Day, and because it would set a dangerous precedent that wouldn’t offer any more clarity (if some MPs are unhappy with the outcome, couldn’t they just push for a third referendum?). A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said the guidance was produced purely for the purpose of “illustrative discussion” and that the government continued to oppose another vote.

Meanwhile, a vote on May’s “Plan B”, expected to include a few minor alterations from the deal’s previous iteration, has been called for Jan. 29, prompting some MPs to accuse May of trying to run out the clock. May is expected to present the new deal on Monday.

Former Tory Attorney General and pro-remainer MP Dominic Grieve blasted May’s timetable as wrong and said that the government “must be aware of it themselves,” while former Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee, who resigned his cabinet seat in June over May’s Brexit policy, denounced her warning as “nonsense.”

As May pieces together her revised deal, more MPs are urging her to drop her infamous “red lines” (Labour in particular would like to see the UK remain part of the Customs Union), but with no clear alternative to May’s plan emerging, a delay of Brexit Day is looking like a virtual certainty.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization

The National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Paul Craig Roberts

Published

on

Via Paul Craig Roberts…


Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying. Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was “Congress would never hear me because then they’d lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world. Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That’s why they’re so afraid. Everybody’s afraid because all this data that’s about them, the central agencies — the intelligence agencies — they have it. And that’s why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn’t attack the intelligence community because they’ve got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That’s because it’s like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it’s leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world.”

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has “a program now called ‘see something, say something’ about your fellow workers. That’s what the Stasi did. That’s why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren’t getting violent yet that we know of — internally in the US, outside is another story.”

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a “traitor” and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA’s law-breaking on Dick “Darth” Cheney. He says NSA’s violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending