Apr. 24th, 2013

News item: Israel accuses Syria of using chemical weapons. Quote:

American intelligence agencies had yet to uncover convincing evidence that an attack on March 19, and smaller subsequent attacks, used sarin gas ... General Brun’s statements were the most definitive to date by an Israeli official regarding evidence of possible chemical weapons attacks on March 19 near Aleppo, Syria, and Damascus, the capital. Another military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the evidence had been presented to the Obama administration but that it had not fully accepted the analysis.

What happened on March 19?

A Reuters photographer said victims he had visited in Aleppo hospitals were suffering breathing problems and that people had said they could smell chlorine after the attack ... He quoted victims at the University of Aleppo hospital and the al-Rajaa hospital as saying people were dying in the streets and in their houses

According to Google Earth, both hospitals are in the Syrian-controlled part of Aleppo, a divided city. This means the victims likely came from the Syrian-controlled part of Aleppo, meaning that the Syrian-controlled zone was the target of the attack. This naturally means that the attack came from the other side.

So let's imagine some possibilities for why the Israelis are coming with this Colin Powell-quality information:

1. They have better intel than me.

We always have to consider this possibility.

If the Israeli report is false, this leaves us with other possibilities:

2. They really, really want to get rid of Assad

In this scenario, Israel's leaders gave the order that toppling the Assad regime would be their strategic objective and they haven't yet noticed that the alternative is worse. It's a simple case of wartime deception to get an ally to accomplish their objective for them.

3. They're following American orders

In this scenario, it is elements in the US government that want to remove Assad while Israel's leadership still thinks the Americans are on their side and will do whatever the Americans tell them to. The Americans tell them to launder this information and send it to the rest of the American leadership that is not yet on board with the plan. It's a complicated case of wartime deception, but not unprecedented. I remember hearing rumours of Rumsfeld planting stories about Iraq in the English and Canadian press so that the planted information would eventually reach politicians who were not yet in favour of the war, to get around a law against propagandizing the US public.

That's a short list of scenarios but it's all I can think of at the moment.

The New York Post blamed the wrong two people on its front cover. They also got a wrong death count on an earlier cover.

Many news organizations issued false reports on the Internet in the race to be first with the story. The new information cycle is aptly described as "Worse information, faster."

Several news organizations ignored, downplayed, or denied the bombers' religious motivation. These included PBS, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, and the Associated Press, and MSNBC. One common form of such dissembling was to invent justifications to blame the United States for the bombing. In one schizophrenic instance, ProPublica correctly reported that the bomber is an Islamic extremist and then deleted comments that agreed with the article (notice all of the people replying to "Gea"), so what's left of the comment section is full of people blaming the bombing on the United States. Many people in high places have denied the obvious religious motive after it became known.

Several news organizations blamed conservative Americans for the bombing.

The Reddit community's attempt to identify the bombers completely failed and they accused the wrong people.

A bunch of people rushed to judge the Saudi they first arrested guilty before any information came out, but these were mostly blogs and not major media, and mostly the same blogs that would generally rush to judgment on this sort of issue.

There are already troofers claiming that the attack was faked. Among the worst:

Every major news outlet that gave the Boston bombing round-the-clock coverage while not reporting on the twenty car bombings in Iraq that same day failed journalism.

Edit May 8: Certainly worth a mention is the push to refuse to Mirandize the surviving bomber, which included included a Yoo-like legal opinion from the FBI claiming that the "public safety exception" -- allowing the police to question a person when there is an immediate pressing need and no time to provide a lawyer -- could be extended for two days or more, while the prisoner was under control and a lawyer could have been provided at any time. Many Republican bloggers latched on to this one, along with the supposed conspiracy of the judge Mirandizing the prisoner as federal court procedures required.

Jester has noted that some of the troofers are friends of the bombers.

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