from the news?-what-news? dept.
The World Socialist Web Site reports
In 1969, Hersh broke the story of the My Lai massacre in which US troops slaughtered over 100 Vietnamese men, women and children--a story the US media at first refused to touch. He was also among the first to expose the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004. And he exposed the Obama administration's lies about the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as the fabricated claims of a Syrian chemical weapons attack in 2013 that brought the US to the brink of another war.
[...] A full week has passed since the publication by a major German newspaper of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh's thoroughgoing debunking of the false claim of a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on April 4. The supposed atrocity by the regime of Bashar al-Assad was used to justify the April 6 US cruise missile strike on the al-Shayat air base. At least nine civilians, including four children, died when 59 Tomahawk missiles rained down on the base in western Syria.
Since the German daily Die Welt published Hersh's article, titled "Trump's Red Line", on June 25, its contents have been subjected to a total blackout by the major newspapers and broadcast and cable news networks in the United States.
Hersh's account makes clear that, not only was there no objective evidence to back up Washington's charges of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, the fact that there was no such attack was known to the US military and intelligence apparatus even before the cruise missile strike was ordered.
"The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives", Hersh wrote. "Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all US, allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region."
Basing himself on sources within the US intelligence apparatus who spoke on condition of anonymity, as well as access to "transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4", Hersh establishes that a Syrian government plane dropped a conventional 500-pound bomb, not a chemical weapon, on the site of the meeting, which included "representatives of Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaida-affiliated group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra".
The target was a cinder block building that served as a "command and control center" for the so-called "rebels", who used its basement to store "rockets, weapons, and ammunition", as well as chlorine, fertilizers and insecticides, Hersh reports.
"A Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) by the US military later determined that the heat and force of the 500-pound Syrian bomb triggered a series of secondary explosions that could have generated a huge toxic cloud that began to spread over the town, formed by the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement, its effect magnified by the dense morning air, which trapped the fumes close to the ground", he continues.
"Did the Syrians plan the attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Absolutely", a senior adviser to US intelligence told Hersh. "Do we have intercepts to prove it? Absolutely. Did they plan to use sarin? No. But the president did not say: 'We have a problem and let's look into it.' He wanted to bomb the shit out of Syria."
[...] As the "mainstream" media has assumed the role of mouthpiece and stenographer for the capitalist state and its military and intelligence apparatus, its journalistic standards have continued to plummet, a tendency highlighted by last week's walkout by hundreds of New York Times workers in protest over the drive by the flagship of the capitalist press to "streamline" its editing process through the destruction of dozens of copy editors' jobs.
One result of the media's slavish subordination to the government and Wall Street has been the effective blacklisting of Hersh, who used to write regularly for the New Yorker magazine.