Friday 20 September 2013

Statement By Dale Gavlak On The Mint Press Article "Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack"

One article that has become a regular feature in the debate on who was responsible for the August 21st sarin attack in Damascus is "Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack", published on the Mint Press website, with Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh on the byline.

Dale Gavlak has now sent me the following statement about the article.
Mint Press News incorrectly used my byline for an article it published on August 29, 2013 alleging chemical weapons usage by Syrian rebels. Despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel, they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint Press News piece.   To date, Mint Press News has refused to act professionally or honestly in regards to disclosing the actual authorship and sources for this story.

I did not travel to Syria, have any discussions with Syrian rebels, or do any other reporting on which the article is based.  The article is not based on my personal observations and should not be given credence based on my journalistic reputation. Also, it is false and misleading to attribute comments made in the story as if they were my own statements.
Dale Gavlak contacted me using an email address used in previous correspondence, relating to this article.

More posted on the subject of the August 21st attacks can be found here, and other posts on chemical weapons and Syria, including extremely informative interviews with chemical weapon specialists, can be found here.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at


  1. Interesting, but MintPress has openly said already on the webpage that the interviews were all by Ababneh. Three questions:

    1. Should one not expect such a statement by Gavlak to be on her own official website or account(Google plus, FB, twitter, linkedin or similar) and not appear only on someone else's blog who relates having received an email from her?

    2. The statement, if indeed it has been made by Gavlak, does not make true how her name was selected. Surely not completely at random? Surely they didn't roll dice and pick a random US reporter's name to put next to Ababneh's? Surely she had some connection to Ababneh's interviews, and if so, what, in full unabridged detail, was it?

    3. Although I will not repeat it here, MintPress gave a direct email contact for Dale Gavlak a long time ago, on that story's page. Would MintPress choose to make it so easy to contact one of the two reporters they list, right from the page of the story, if one of them has absolutely positively nothing what so ever to do with the article?

    The above is in decreasing order or importance - item 1 is to get it directly online from DG's official account not through an intermediary. I have no evidence that Brown Moses is not being truthful, but assertions this strong can easily be made (and should be made) by the reporter herself.

    1. Also, whether this is a 4th question or a followup on the 1st, the mind boggles why it should take almost a month - surely if after a few days or a week if MintPress were so utterly and completely inaccurate, Gavlak could have posted on her own twitter/G+/etc. Something doesn't smell right, and I'm not talking about MintPress here, there is already a character assassination campaign against others who spoke out, like Mother Agnes, a brave and courageous woman who has criticized both sides, including the Syrian government. But her pointing at suspicious things about
      rebel claims and videos, now have her attacked viciously. Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert has called this woman, Mother Agnes, an "Assad propagandist" That is outrageous. She has called the Syrian government "totalitarian." To call someone who has used that word about the government a "propagandist" is not only irresponsible, it is Orwellian. What they object to is that she has also called the rebels out as being, in far more cases than the admits, also totalitarian and even worse in brutality than the government:

      "Now, this totalitarianism is not good, and it's obsolete but if the armed insurrection is implementing another totalitarianism, which is maybe
      worse, because there is blood, they can behead you, they can cut - last week, in our village, they cut the fingers of a so-called
      'collaborator', then they behead him, and they cut him in pieces,and they left him, in the street, where even children would see.."(2:03 at
      YsK-12Q6rBU on YT)

      Meanwhile you can be sure that immense pressure is being put on two pro-rebel reporters who were taken hostage and after their release, they had a bombshell: both former hostages, Pierre Piccinin and Domenico Quirico heard through a half open door to the adjacent room, the very Free Syrian Army commander they already knew who was in charge of their being held, they heard him in a conversation in English in which he stated clearly that they, the rebels, had just launched a chemical attack in Ghouta "as a provocation" to get the US to attack Syria. Not "we might do it" not "speculation" about others, but "we did it"

      Already media have grossly misrepresented the case, when they (barefly) report on it as if there is "sharp disagreement" between the two but the La Stampa interview with Quirico, the one who supposedly "sharply differs" with Piccinin, shows that Quirico agrees 100% of all the above facts - English Skype conversation in adjacent room, FSA commander admits they the rebels had (past tense) launched a chemical attack, and in the Ghouta area, and to "provoke" a US attack. No disagreement at all, none. Quirico's disagreement is only - can we be 100% sure to exonerate the Assad government, obviously, nothing is 100% certain, and also obviously, one can't rule out 100% that there might have been rebel chemical attacks (possibly several since the confession heard by Piccinin/Quirico may be different) and also a rogue government agent. Germany's top intel agency already leaked that Assad "always" rejected use of chem weapons, in all the many months of their then-secret monitoring of his top communications, no wonder, since Syrian Army was making gains and in any case it would have been suicidally stupid for him to use them. Even Iraq's Saddam Hussein who was happy to use chem weapons in 1980s when he knew the US was on his side and happy to help him even giving coordinates of Iranian troops to help him, but even Saddam did not use chem weapons in 1991 when his troops were slaughtered while retreating and at other times by US, why?

      Because he knew what would rain upon him if he did. In contrast, Assad's forces were not losing but making many significant gains

    2. (cont)

      Because he knew what would rain upon him if he did. In contrast, Assad's forces were not losing but making many significant gains, and by magic coincidence immediately after the arrival at Syrian government invitation of UN inspectors to look into previous attack, and exactly 1 year and 1 day after the "red line" speed by Obama, magically chem weapon attacks right near the UN inspectors are launched. Gosh, this is a tough one to see who had everything to gain (rebels) and who had nothing military or otherwise to gain and everything to lose. But wait, they will character assassinate Piccinin and Quirico if they have to in western media, or rebel-backing Qatar's mouthpiece Al Jazeera or rebel-backing Saudi mouthpiece Al Arabia (if Al Qaeda affiliates like Al Nusra cadn be called "rebels"), or just immense behind the scenes pressure to shut them up too. It's up to all but especially up to US citizens to demand these things - particularly the Piccinin/Quirico overheard confession but also the Ababneh interviews - are fully, and vigorously investigated by independent expert analysis groups not subject to western pressure.

      On Gavlak's reputed email to that blogger..the three above questions are decreasing order or importance - item 1 is to get it directly online from Gavlak'ss official account not through an intermediary. I have no evidence that Brown Moses is not being truthful, but assertions this strong can easily be made (and should be made) by the reporter herself - including clarifying items 2-4 above as well.

      Note: Regardless of what the facts and details are, I strongly suspect she is under enormous pressure by mainstream to "prove" she too is not an "Assad propagandist" (the way Mother Agnes "is" one) for daring to have anything to do with the "crime" of reporting what Ghouta area rebels and their families said that might counter White House "narrative" - for having to deal with such pressure, Gavlak has my sincere sympathy

    3. Two points: the regime has been accused of using nerve agents in Eastern Damascus at least since May. See the following article from LeMonde: . If the regime used Sarin on August 21, it would not be a magic surprise; it would be in line with a pattern.

      Secondly, August 21 was the only day that week that the winds were blowing from government-held territory toward rebel-held territory.

      So is the MintPressNews story true? Or was there never even a chemical attack, as Assad claimed on Aug 22? Or was it a deliberate false flag as is now being claimed? Were as the Sarin from Iraq, from Turkey, or from Prince Bandar?

      Would you care to tell me exactly what you think happened on August 21? Where did the rebels acquire the Sarin and how did they deploy it? At this point, not only does a competing theory have to clearly indict the rebels, it also has to explain away existing evidence pointing the finger at the regime. Until a case can be made that does both, there really isn't much to talk about.

    4. As far as your first link, I agree with you completely the Government of Syria "has been accused of" using nerve agents, that is not in dispute:
      "accusations". Evidence is something entirely different.

      (I did look at the link, reporters were "hanging out" with rebels, and the rebels made the charges. He says he is "Sure" it was not tear gas, but no medical proof. If there was 1% chance or 1% evidence of Sarin, The U.S. would have immediately jumped on this--unless maybe it was Al Nusra or another group, which they want to protect from negative publicity - yes they call it terrorist, but they do not want the general 'all the rebel groups' meme damaged as a brand. Then samples were taken and results "in a few weeks" Well it's been months now, so if there is independent (not US or France or Rebel but independent) proof of what it was, let's see it, and indep proof of who did it - oh, that's right, your story says "hand grenades" released some gas...Do any rebels, any of the rebel groups have access to hand grenades, or only the government? Well, you know the answer: rebels have access to that - and in fact, rebels have been using RPGs and even missiles since 2011, they have access to all that)

      Accusations aside, let's talk about evidence, shall we? But first let's not forget logic too. Why did Saddam Hussein not attack U.S. troops in
      1991 with massive chemical attacks? Answer me please. This is the same Saddam who (with U.S. money and backing and it turns out, even direct
      help) used gas in the past. The answer is: he was not suicidally stupid. Despite his troops losing *badly* to U.S. attacks.

      The same logic applies in Syria. Assad isn't stupid.Only the logic applies even more: Assad's forces were making significant gains. The desperate side were the rebels. That's basic logic and common sense, who would lose massively? Who would gain? We know the answer, even if some refuse to admit the rebels had everything to gain and the government of Syria had everything to lose.

      As far as not accusations but evidence: Leading member of UN investigation team Carla Del Ponte found "strong, concrete" links to rebels of
      previous chemical attacks. That's not "Accusation" That's evidence collected not by "reporters hanging out with rebels" (French reporters are no more neutral than Russian reporters, especially if "Embedded" with one side)

      So they found "strong, concrete" links to rebels from those previous chemical attacks. What about the government? "we have no indication at all
      that the government, the Syrian government, used" You will need to click on the 1 minute video for this second quote, because BBC chose not to
      include it in the text part of the story but you can hear this "we have no indication at all that the government, the Syrian government, used"
      chemical weapons, at the video at ( in the same investigation that found "strong,
      concrete" links to rebels.

      I have never heard Assad say on Aug 22 that he was sure there was definitely no chemical attack, my impression of all communications was that
      they will not declare either way until further study, and it makes sense for anyone to say that on Aug 22. By the way if you think Assad did it
      it would be *stupid* to say that, he would have said "I am immediately 100% sure the rebels did it" if that was his ploy, he would not say, "we
      need to investigate before jumping to 100% certain statements" If you have a link proving Assad said on Aug 22 he was 100% sure there was "never
      even a chemical attack" then I would like to see it. But that's secondary, let's look at more evidence: German intel

    5. (continued)Germany revealed (through a leak) that its top intelligence body had monitored with off-shore ships all of Assad's communications with his top commanders over many many months. In all of those, Assad "always" rejected the use of chemical weapons. So you want to talk about "part of a pattern"? Ok then it is in agreement with this past pattern of "always" saying no to chemical weapons (the leak I saw did not say which ones - did his commanders bring up Sarin? Or White Phosphorus which Israel and the US have used? Or did the commanders bring up something else, like extra strong tear gas? I don't know, the leaks I saw did not reveal that - the leaks only revealed that whatever it was, the answer was always: rejecting the use, period) I can find the Guardian or other but for now here is one: (

      (Aside, the "Apparent" lack of Army deaths claimed to be "Apparently" true by NewScientist on Aug 28, is not one I have seen confirmed. I'm not sure that's true. One could argue that the government would want at least one government person dead to make it look like rebels did it, and that rebels would try to let only civilians in their area die, to make it look like the govt did's kind of silly to look at that in isolation. In that context winds blowing is equally iffy. More important: would it score the government a significant military advantage? They were already winning, and the nature of the attacks in Ghouta (even with zero US attacks) would no help them militarily. Rebels: losing ground,
      and Ghouta attacks had big shot at US attack)

      Have you seen either of those two above stories? German intel ships? And the UN? So the U.N. Carla Del Ponte one also answers the question of whether rebels had access, they did. Rebels had access to sarin. Secondly, Turkish police made arrests. They now say it was not sarin but "chemicals that clearly" were used for making sarin and that it was clear the people arrested could not claim to "not know" indictment came out, see Chicago Tribune.

      So two ways for rebels to get poison gas. A 3rd/4th way - Saudi and Qatari backers. The first two ways are specific from investigators, the 3rd and 4th are general but very real.

      What do I think, you ask? I think the Piccinin and Quirico overhead Skype conversation reported in La Stampa is the biggest piece of evidence:

      FSA commander saying in English in the room adjacent to where these to PRO-REBEL journalists were being held hostage, and they heard through the half open door and both agree what they heard the rebel commander say: that the rebels did (not "planned to" not "speculation" but "we did it") a chem attack in Ghouta(!) area as provocation" to get US attack.

      These again: two pro-rebel journalists (Piccinin a teacher but has done freelancing in Mali as well as Syria; Quirico long time journalist, and had published "many pieces quite "sympathetic" to rebels in the past, NY Times noted in a small online piece) NYTimes very misleading, as if that Quirico "differed" with Piccinin - when in fact Quirico merely "differed" from jumping to 100% certainty that Syrian Army did not do it - obviously nothing is 100% certain - that's the way in which he "differed" - but Quirico did not "differ" at ALL about what happened: rebel commander saying in adjacent room on Skype in English: we did a chem attack - and did it in Ghouta area(!) and did it as "provocation" to get US to attack.

      Where are the front page headlines calling for investigating what both Pierre Piccinin and Domenico Quirico heard?

    6. Yes, I have seen all the stories you mentioned and none of them show what you suggest they do.

      Firstly, you misquoted Carla Del Ponte. She did not say there were "strong, concrete links." Taken directly from the BBC article you posted, there are "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof." The rest of the UN Commission distanced itself from those statements shortly afterward. It was a premature comment based on eye witness testimony, not a formal UN position backed by physical evidence. This is all mentioned in the BBC article you referenced.

      Regarding Turkey arresting an Al-Nusra cell with Sarin gas: here is the original story, posted by Russia Today. . The alleged "Sarin" was identified as being ethylene glycol--anti-freeze.

      Ethylene Glycol is not even a Sarin precursor. To speculate, ethylene glycol can be a precursor for Mustard by an inefficient route. But Mustard is not reported to have been used anywhere in Syria to date. Either way, it is not relevant as it wasn't Sarin or a Sarin precursor.

      Regarding the Saudis and Qataris: neither has a chemical weapons stockpile, as has been reported on this very blog. Both have ratified the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria has not.

      Interesting that the Syrian government has repeatedly denied permission to use chemical weapons. This presents another possibility: low-level commanders deployed them without high-level approval. The following article elaborates on that possibility.

      Speaking of German intelligence, a quote from the above Huffington Post piece:

      "This included a phone call German spies intercepted between a Hezbollah official and the Iranian Embassy in Damascus in which the official said Assad had ordered the attack.

      Germany, along with the European Union, blames the Syrian government for the attack but urged waiting for a report from U.N. weapons inspectors before any U.S.-led military response."

    7. The indictment, over 100 pages, is very clear: the materials were for making Sarin: "The prosecutor in the Turkish city of Adana has issued a 132-page indictment, alleging that six men of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham tried to seek out chemicals with the intent to produce the nerve agent, sarin gas, a number of Turkish publications reported."

      The Saudis, even if we take as face value that they don't have a stockpile, dont' need any stockpile to send them the materials to make Sarin...just like they didn't need to send it to the folks caught in Turkey, similarly they don't have to send it to Syria directly either, just the ingredients. Oh, and a multi-billionaire prince does not need there to be even the raw ingredietns in Saudi Arabia, multi-Billion dollar, is enough to get it on the "World market" and to deliver to rebels, I mean come one, that can't be denied or doubted.

      In general this is a silly game, since as we all know, they can get Sarin from Saudis or Qataris or one of the many foreign, non-Syrian jihadists flowing into the country, and they can make it themselves, as even a Japanese cult knew how to make, so it's beyond unnecessary to in addition to all of this, give the Turkish example, the rest are more than enough..without the Turkish example, but just FYI, there is the quote

      And "The suspects have pleaded not guilty saying that they had not been aware the materials they had tried to obtain could have been used to make sarin gas. Suspects have been consistently providing conflicting and incoherent facts on this matter," the indictment said.

      So the Turkish example is completely unnecessary, but even there you dismiss as not there, things that clearly are there.

      Well I'm glad you actually read the German intel story. So yes, as I've said earlier we can't be 100% sure some low level Army person used's very unlikely for many reasons I outlined earlier, they were winning, all the reasons not fear the reaction if they used it etc, but no we can't be 100% sure. Since Germany is part of NATO we know its has resisted Obama's bombing but we know what side they are generally on..their top agency monitoring for months and months, I've seen, yes, the claim that one conversation, NEITHER side of which is Syrian, claims to know that another third party (Syrians) used CW...obviously the former is far stronger evidence, but by all means, don't ignore the second one, let's release the phone conversation and see(hear)it

      Carla Del Ponte - you will notice I never put the word "links" in quotes. You put it in quotes. Clearly suspicions by their nature cannot be "concrete" by the very nature of the term so given English is not her native language either she doesn't know what "strong" and "Specific" mean (clearly not true) or she didn't use the best term and instead of "suspicions" means "lines of evidence" Yes, as is clear from elsewhere, other reports, she meant "Strong and concrete lines of evidence" from their investigation. Hence I did not say "strong and concrete proof" but quoted "strong and concrete" in quotes, it is not someone sitting in a room smoking pot having "suspicions" it is hands-on, local, on the ground research including extensive interviews, I call those thinks, at least, a line of evidence, probably even better than "link" Call it what you will, but these lines of evidence are "specific" (not general or vague) and "concrete" - pointing at rebels. Obama/McCain were ready to bomb on far less than this. Do we bomb the rebels now? I don't think we should, but should investigate and not brush under the rug the strong lines of evidence pointing at rebels.

    8. I think you're underestimating the technical and logistical challenges involved in manufacturing hundreds of kilograms of Sarin. That's how much Sarin would be required for the number of casualties seen on August 21: between 100 and 1000 kg. Aum Shinrikyo was not your run-of-the-mill backyard operation; they had the funding to bribe former Soviet chemical weapons scientists and to build a pilot plant. Even then, they failed to deploy Sarin effectively. And they didn't even have to transport it across hundreds of miles of contested terrain either.

      To put it bluntly: manufacturing nerve agents is unfeasible without an existing chemicals industry. If it were so trivial to manufacture Sarin and kill hundreds of people, then every other day would bring news of a Sarin attack instead of a roadside bombing.

    9. Gavlak has said the same thing to all websites that had republished the fake Mint Press story.

    10. @DDTEA at 18:35
      You were asked to listen to the recording. Why do you rely on the BBC transcript?
      She said there is "no indication at all that the Syrian government used it". The fact that the others distanced themselves doesn't prove anything. Do you know more than Carla del Ponte who was there? To say "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof".is normal for a lawyer. How can she have incontrovertible proof? Do you not find it strange that Assad would resort to using chemical weapons 2 days after the UN inspectors arrived, within four miles of the hotel where the inspectors were staying and after a period where his forces made considerable gains? I repeat, I do NOT know who used it (for all I know maybe both sides did with respect to all chemical weapons attacks, they are equally barbaric).

      Fisk is a reporter with a lot of experience in the Middle East, an impeccable reputation and apparently wide contacts. He wrote "it also has to be said that grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad's army. While these international employees cannot be identified, some of them were in Damascus on 21 August and asked a series of questions to which no one has yet supplied an answer."

      And he is no apologist of Assad. "And even if the Assad regime was not responsible for the 21 August attacks, its forces have committed war crimes aplenty over the past two years. Torture, massacre, the bombardment of civilian targets have long been proved."

    11. @Khalid 21-9-2013 11:13

      Why did she wait 3 weeks?
      Doesn't that arouse suspicions about her motives?

    12. @DDTEA
      "was identified as being ethylene glycol--anti-freeze" by a Turkish envoy to Russia.
      Why would anybody have anti freeze in a place where there is almost never any frost?
      The Foreign Military Studies Office of the US Army wrote (and did not correct) on their website that 2 kg of sarin was found in their apartment.

      Let me repeat: I have no illusions about Assad. My only desire is to know what really happened.

      The battleship Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" are but 2 examples of faked events that served the purpose of rationalising the attack on a country subsequently.

      A couple of days ago I read an interview Zbignew Brzinski gave to a French publication where he boasted of having acted in Afghanistan BEFORE the Soviet invasion so as to draw the Soviets into "their Vietnam" and as we know he succeeded.Obama claimed he learned a lot from Zbignew Brzinski. Of course this doesn't prove anything but there are so many red flags connected with this tragedy (Bandar Bush not being the least of them given his history) that I am amazed how anybody in his armchair can be certain about what happened.

  2. Answer to Point 3:

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    550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try
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    1. Appreciate the "research" you did (assuming the email address you used is the one I have, which I deliberately chose not to reveal)

      But even if it's the same email, it doesn't really answer the question, it tells us she is not reachable today at that address. Might have been reachable find yesterday or 7 days ago.

      Today especially (given this blog post and others like it) she is no doubt absolutely bombarded with a deluge, an avalanche of phone, email, and more. For this reason, while I have not ruled out personally contacting her at the contact info I have, for clarification, I've decided not to even try today - too much of a flood going her way today...

    2. I emailed both of them at that email 13 days ago, Dale only replied when I sent it to the email account I had contacted her on before.

  3. At which email? The same as the one bbrhuft used (but did not, as far I my eyes can tell, specify)? Or at the same as the one I have (but did not give away)? I'm not sure how we can know for certain we're using (or have) the same contacts for DG, but assuming for a moment that we do, then the fact you got a reply from (if we assume it) the same as contact info that MintPress had a while back given, then it only strengthens my 3rd question:

    why would MintPress give contact information that *does* reach Dale Gavlak, and give it to readers from the beginning (right after story posted) if there was so much disagreement?

    bbrhuft's implicit answer, suggestion that, "they gave it away because it is a non-working contact for DG" would no longer be a possible answer.

  4. well ive been told this by another (real) journalist:
    Infowarriors are trying to discredit the Mint Press article that has rebels in Ghouta blaming Saudis for bringing chemical weapons into the area. The AP correspondent Dale Gavlak who co-wrote the article is trying to distance herself from it (I hear, under pressure) and has issued a denial on this blog I link to.

    But look at what Dale wrote to me on August 30, the day after the article was published: "Basically I helped Yahya Ababneh, who traveled to Gouta, to write what he saw and heard. He mainly met with rebels, of course, the father of one of the rebels killed and doctors treating victims in the area. He has traveled to Syria numerous times. As you know Mint Press News is more of an advocacy journalism site and it seems to be the most likely to publish such a piece." - This last part in response to my question to her asking why she didn't publish the article on AP

  5. NOW why apply pressure on Dale, if the piece were not true and dangerous to the US war machine agenda?

  6. 'A Final Comment
    international law expert: Francis Boyle critiqued the UN report. He cited:
    (1) Appendix 3, paragraph 3: UN inspectors “admit they were under the control of the opposition in order to make their inspection of Ghouta.”

    (2) Appendix 4: “Admittedly this was a rush job designed to meet an artificial deadline of questionable significance.”

    (3) Page 15: “So why did none of the 3 hair samples test positive for sarin?”

    (3) Statisticians should “do a run on the statistical significance of the findings here given the low number N=34-36 out of the alleged” 1,429 victims Kerry wrongfully claimed.

    (4) Appendix 5 – Munitions:

    (a) Page 18: Inspectors said “(f)ragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.”

    The above discussion suggests the same thing. The alleged crime scenes were manipulated. Doing so made evidence collected suspect, tainted and/or worthless.

    According to Boyle:
    So-called “munitions ‘evidence’ could have been easily planted beforehand by the opposition that was in complete control of this area” at the time.

    (b) According to UN inspectors:

    “During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

    In other words, said Boyle, perhaps so-called “evidence” isn’t any at all.

    (5) Appendix 7: Lab 1 and 2 results show “large numbers of the samples indicated NO CW agents: ‘NONE,’ ” said Boyle.

    Most likely they were largely conventional munitions fragments. Sarin was present in a small fraction of them. UN inspectors admitted crime scenes were “manipulated.”

    They were tampered with. Contamination made them worthless.

    Note: Major media reports suppressed what’s most important to report! They ignored vital truths!

    They wrongfully blamed Assad for insurgents’ crimes! They did so based on manipulated/corrupted/fabricated evidence!

    According to Boyle:
    “At 7.2 on the Biomedical Results, of 36 samples, the 2 labs together could not confirm even ONE chem by means of a urine test.”

    “Indeed, most of the urine tests were NA – not available, in other words, not reported.”

    UN inspectors’ “report is completely slipshod and worthless, even in accordance with (their) own terms.”

    “It establishes almost nothing of any scientific significance. It was rushed on through to provide BKM and the Americans a pretext for further warmongering.”

    Doing so shows so-called inspectors willfully deceived. They lied for power. UN agencies operate this way. They’re little more than wholly owned US subsidiaries.

    They’re corrupted and worthless. Don’t expect major media scoundrels to explain.

    1. The video Brown Moses posted/linked to of the dying dog had a 300mm+ style missile. It had clearly been moved into position. You can see the fresh drag marks.

      How many of these missiles are there? Were they moved around the alleged strike zone for propaganda purposes? How many unique patterns of damage are there in whatever missiles were displayed?

      On a personal note, I worked for some time as a micrometeorologist concerned with gas transport at night under various climate regimes. This was primarily to model accident scenarios at industrial sites and involved gases of a wide variety including some with physical characteristics similar to Sarin. I found the entire UN section on the weather to be utter rubbish. They amazingly got it roughly right despite their 'rising air' and 'falling air'.

      The actual meteorological situation based on the METARS from OSDI (Damascus airport) was highly conducive to formation of a low-level inversion. Clear skies combined with low winds will form a very powerful inversion despite it being 20C+ on the ground. It was probably 30C+ at 50 - 100 metres above that. There was no 'rising air' or 'falling air' It was very stable with air at any particular level staying pretty much where it was. Sarin gas dispersed at any particular level would have stayed pretty much where it was vertically. There would be diffusion both up and down but not a lot. The main killing zone would be at whatever altitude the gas was dispersed and in a plume downwind that travelled at around 5-8 km/h. There would be some horizontal and vertical dispersion such that the further downwind from the plume the larger the potentially lethal window, but with less gas concentration. Come sunrise the inversion would disappear and vertical convection would dissipate the gas cloud.

      Paradoxically, if the gas was released at say 50 metres, the ground casualties wouldn't start to occur till quite some distance downwind.

    2. Charles: thank you for the insightful post. I am biased and believe that the government was responsible for the Aug 21 attack.

      "Come sunrise the inversion would disappear and vertical convection would dissipate the gas cloud."

      This is an interesting point. Sarin is a volatile, environmentally-labile substance. The goal of Sarin is to catch an enemy off-guard, kill them quickly, dissipate shortly afterward, and allow troops to seize ground. The collapse of the inversion layer, and associated dissipation of the gas cloud, come sunrise then sheds light on the timing of the attack (~4:00 am).

      Some questions: if you have access to the data, how do the local meteorological conditions in Damascus vary from Aug 18 - Aug 26? Was there something unique and particularly favorable for Sarin dispersal on the 21st?

  7. Am appalled at this attempt to undermine and/or discredit an article that challenges mainstream narratives on Syria - one that directly points to chemical weapons possession by rebels inside Ghouta on the day of the alleged CW attacks.

    I contacted Dale Gavlak the day after the Mint Press article was published. I do not know her personally, but found her email on the Mint Press website.

    Dale wrote back to me the same day, August 30. She answered her Mint Press email ( and did not appear to take any issue with the article or her byline at that time:

    "Basically I helped Yahya Ababneh, who traveled to Gouta, to write what he saw and heard. He mainly met with rebels, of course, the father of one of the rebels killed and doctors treating victims in the area. He has traveled to Syria numerous times. As you know Mint Press News is more of an advocacy journalism site and it seems to be the most likely to publish such a piece."

    The first part of her email was in response to my query about whether she went into Ghouta herself, as I was interested in interviewing the journalist who actually met with the rebels. The last sentence was in response to my question on why she didn't publish the article on AP.

    She didn't attempt to distance herself from the article in any way on August 30.

    I have heard through a Jordanian journalist that Dale has come under considerable pressure since the article went viral. If she is changing her tune under pressure, that is no reason to discredit the story itself. I understand that Dale and her co-writer Yahya have known each other for around three years. I imagine she trusted his professional integrity enough to put her name on this article - at least before the pressures began.

    1. Thank you for this. Please contact me at econdemocracyATgmail thanks

    2. Without any discredit to any journalist involved I must say I found the claim on the article somewhat...dubious. The Saudis give CW to al-Nusra without propper training and they blow themselves up in a tunnel while playing with the damn thing? That story also has no relation with any of the UN's findings.

    3. The UN findings so far, tell us there is strong and concrete evidence pointing at past rebel use, that's the connection, not the same thing, but not unrelated entirely either. As for "without proper training" that happens, and you know what else sometimes happens? Jihadis pay someone to carry something and not tell them that they are going to be blown up...

      Another possibility is the ones who did it, suspected, but they don't want to be put on trial for war crimes, so even though they suspected that it was chem weapons, they told Ababneh "I did not know at all" I mean not everyone is going to admit the whole truth, they can admit they did it but (plausibly) say they didn't realize it. Which might be partially or largely or entirely true. Again, sometimes someone is paid to do a menial task to carry things..

      Also there may have been several rebel chem attacks, so even if the Ababneh interviews turn out to be 100% accurate (which Washington is hoping they will never be investigated so we never find out) but even if 100% accurate, that does not rule out other rebel attacks on that same, coincidental day, 1 year and 1 day after the Aug 20, 2012 "red line" speech on Aug 21 2013..right after UN inspectors arrive, how convenient

      And that other rebel chem attack? I don't want to have to type it in yet again, fingers tired, but briefly,Piccinin and Quirico overhead Skype conversation reported in La Stampa -rebel commander saying in English in the room adjacent to where these to pro-rebeljournalists were being held hostage, and they heard through the half open door and both agree what they heard the rebel commander say: that the rebels did (not "planned to" not "speculation" but "we did it") a chem attack in Ghouta area(!) as provocation" to get US attack. So multiple chem attacks by rebels on that day,some Al Nusra, some FSA,are entirely compatible with this evidence

  8. The central issue is: a large number of Syrians local to Ghouta including civilians, including rebels, including family of rebels, testified that rebels carried out the attack. As for Gavlak, it's pretty interesting that she does not post something publicly herself to press or even on a twitter or other account that is credibly known to be hers..but let's assume that Brown Moses is telling us the truth and even the whole full truth, with this email quote..what does it tell us?

    Does Gavlak say the story is not true? No. Does she say she trusts Ababneh less? No. Does she say the interviews are less likely to be true? No. She allegedly says she wants her name off. That speaks volumes.

    Also makes one ask, not only why she waited so long, but but also why she isn't louder now. If she had any real misgivings about the reliability of the interviews and of Ababneh there are VERY FEW things that would make her life easier, than to go public (rather than quietly to one blogger by email) and to publicly say she "does not believe" this is very reliable etc - she did NOT say this - even though she would be a media DARLING if she sold out that way...The fact she has not said one single negative word about the reliability of the interviews or of Ababneh her colleague whom she has apparently known for some three years, speaks volumes, given how much she could gain and certainly reduce negative pressure upon herself if she "renounced" the story, rather than (if it's true) merely asking for her name to be removed, I sympathize, she's under as much pressure as you would expect someone to be under who threatens not only the "Assad narrative" of the most powerful "regime" on earth, the U.S., but is much more explosive still: that US-backed rebels could have done it.

    Why did she wait this long? Obviously if she didn't think she had anything to do with the story she would have spoken out right away. Several people said they emailed her and she replied in late August, without ANY hint of trying to distance herself from the story. Quite the opposite, she said she helped Ababneh write it. You can find stories of her reporting on the middle east from Jordan and elsewhere all over (search Dale Gavlak Salon) Well either she is well travelled in that area, or she is always in D.C. but works only by remote with local freelancers in Jordan etc. Well if that was ok for all her previous stories without her being there in person, then this is different how exactly? So she knew and trusted Ababneh long enough to write with him, while Ababneh was the only one who did the legwork to get the eyewitness interviews (as MintPress was open about on their website since a while back) she was co-author as she helped him write the piece. Simple enough. Then the story goes viral. And needless to say upsets the White House narrative. It's not hard to understand what happens to a reporter who has a story go viral (though still far too few have seen it, it needs to be every American) your life is not going to be fun. Look at Gary Webb if you don't know what happened to him when he shows CIA's connection to drug-running by the contras in the 1980s. Not fun, thrown under a bus (figuratively, but badly enough). Gavlak needs to feed herself. It doesn't even have to be sinister like a blacklist, it can be much more innocent/sympathetic like "I'd love to hire you but we're getting so much heat and hate from...." and that's not fun for your career, either. Sure, these are hypotheticals, but anyone who claims that the White House and Saudi Billionaires do not make angry phonecalls when a story is this damaging to them, is simply lying - at minimum, to themselves.

    How damaging? This is not only going to the "Assad did it! So we have to regime change, I mean bomb!" narrative, it is far more potentially damaging, because it actually points at US-backed rebels(cont)

    1. So, the whole thing was just na accident in a tunnel?

    2. (cont)How damaging?This is not only going to the "Assad did it! So we
      have to regime change, I mean bomb!" narrative, it is far more damaging, because it actually points at US-backed rebels,
      or at least,the narrative have pretended there is a single entity "the" rebels, and at other times, pretended one can isolate the "good" rebels from the "Bad"

      As UN commission chair Paulo Pinheiro said,"there are no good
      rebels" he did not mean "not one single person" but there is
      anti-democratic sentiments in the "good" ones and, worse, you can't
      easily draw the line and separate which are brutal murderers(or even
      Al Qaeda)&which are not). That the US was backing groups that used chemical weapons is a very dangerous idea to them

      If we give a damn about the dead civilians and dead children, we'd
      have front page interviews with Ababneh, instead of ignoring this
      story so it gets published by MintPress and one other better known
      website (, headed by a retired U.S. Navy Admiral, see
      "White House mum..." story there, their advisory board has Joint
      Chiefs of Staff ppl..serious website..they actually took the
      time to interview Ababneh, at least, ask him a few more questions
      to clarify the context of the confessions, and they take the
      allegations very seriously at the story shows) but if we give a damn
      and don't just pretend to, about the victims, the mainstream press
      would interview Ababneh too

      Also, we could among other things, give asylum to those Ghouta rebels, and rebel families Ababneh interviewed who confessed, so they can openly tell world without fear, what they told Ababneh, give their testimonies in more detail, answer follow up questions,

      THAT'S what we'd do if we give a rat's * about the victims,we'd try to find out more..instead if we want to "score points for the US empire" then our only goal is to bury this story and focus on the fact that Gavlak(after a ton of pressure)may not want her name on the story she helped Ababneh write, I wonder why? Does she say it's not true? No. Does she say she trusts Ababneh less? No. Does she say the interviews are less likely to be true? No. She allegedly says she wants her name off.That speaks volumes

      If we care one BIT about the victims instead of scoring points, if we
      give the slightest damn about the dead children, we'd not play games
      or distractions about whether Gavlak, despite having helped Ababneh
      write up his interviews, now would like her name off the official
      roster,but we'd focus on the:

      Testimonies of Ghouta area rebels - saying they did it

      Testimonies of Ghouta area residents - saying rebels did it

      Testimony of family of dead rebel paid to carry stuff that wasn't
      explained to him what was in it..- again pointing at rebels.

      And investigate and follow-up and find out to verify and confirm, or
      not confirm, these many different pepole, many different testimonies,
      pointing at the rebels. If we dont' want to do that, we shouldn't
      pretend to care about the dead kids, we should just say "it was all
      just propaganda to bomb, we don't care about any of the dead children, that was just cheap pretense"

      We'd also put on Page One something even more explosive, an interview
      with 2 pro-rebel journalists Pierre Piccinin and Domenico Quirico,
      overhearing while held hostage by rebles, rebel commander (whom they
      had known was an FSA rebel commander from before- he was in charge of
      their being helds) and hearing this rebel commander saying in English
      in adjacent room to where they were held, with door half open, hearing him say that they, rebels, had just done a chemical attack in Ghouta area as “provocation” to get US to attack. Not speculation or "we might" but "we did it".

      How many Americans have been even allowed to hear about Pierre
      Piccinin and Domenico Quirico?

    3. (partr3, last)Piccinin/Quiroc revelations have been Ignored mostly and sometimes reported very very misleadingly as if Quirico "differs" with Piccinin. Nonsense, Quirico himself told La Stamp the exact facts just listed in this paragraph, he only differs on the interpretation (we can't be 100% sure, obviously), and whether we can be 100% sure to exonerate the Syrian Army (obviously, it's not impossible that both rebels and army used gas, even though German intel revealed in leak recently, that they monitored top communication and Assad "always" rejected using chem any time it ws brought up in all those months) but that "we're not 100% sure" and bending over backwards to keep saying that many times, that's the only way Quirico "differed" -- not on the

      Both Quirico and Piccinin agree: two pro-rebel journalists hear immediately in adjacent room with half open door, Skype conversation in English, rebel commander
      saying "we did" a chemical attack in Ghouta area. Explosive.

      This is clearly not about our leaders "caring for human rights" or else there would be a vigorous demand for vigorous investigation. Not asking them to assume it is 100% true, but if you care at all about the victims, vigorously start investigating this, instead of hidign the story or having misleading reporting as noted.

      This is about empire building, and the empire does not even benefit us in the does not even benefit the citizens of Israel or the citizens of Saudi is not their doing it is their governments..even those of you who are pro-rebel (instead of pro-negotiation, pro-peaceful-handout-of-power) you must surely see - Al Nusra will slaughter the other rebels the first chance they get - in fact sometiems they fight with them, other times, attack them, they are the stronger's not good for the peaceful demonstrators I support but not even good for most of the sane/good's towards disaster, with US encouraging rebels not to negotiate..until now finally for Geneva negotiations..we'll see

      Can you imagine if they had been pro-Syrian govt journalists, held by Army, and heard the opposite confession? It would be front page, or bombs away, before you could blink. Please everyone, spread the word, have the Abaneh interviews investigated fully, fairly, openly, transparently, by neutral parties...Please spread the word about the overhead confession of rebel commander by Piccinin and Quirico, demand investigation there too, call congress, write editor, tell friends, colleagues..

    4. In his interview for RT (, Piccinin claims he overhead a skype conversation between a FSA general, a rebel and someone onluine who spokeperfect english. Then we tells how he supports the secular FSA. Makes no sense.

  9. The idea that the US administration cares about Syrian casualties & Bashar Al Assad`s "crimes against humanity" is laughable.When Assad participated in the special rendition program (kidnapping-interrogation-torture),he was considered a valuable asset by the same little Eichmanns who are now lining up against him. This whole debate about the use of chemical agents is ridiculous & utterly hypocritical.Who cares about the victims, they are statistics.Straight from the horse's mouth " we don't do body counts" .Victoria Clarke,Donald Rumsfeld & General Tommy Franks.

    1. Ms Emma Peel - it's much worse than that. The US and Canada (or at least high level officials) are guilty of far worse than "When Assad participated in the special rendition program (kidnapping-interrogation-torture),he was considered a valuable asset"

      Remind me of Chomsky's comments about East Timor, "we didn't just 'turn a blind eye' - no, we looked very careful, directly at it, and made sure to support [the slaughter]" (paraphrased)

      Similarly here. Although the west likes to avoid the massive crimes and murder and mayhem by rebels, certainly the Syrian Army have committed crimes too (as in any war), and those fall into two categories if you like: those that Assad did not personally order but being at the top, bears significant responsibility for, and those if any, that he personally ordered.

      Well the kidnapping and torture of Maher Arar to which I assume you're referring, is the second, worse type of crime that a leader is responsible for - except that leader is us, the US and Canada DEMANDED (at the very least, requested) that Syria carry out these horrible acts (under threat that if not you're not a 'cooperative' regime and we know what happens to non-cooperative regimes) that's far worse than turning a blind eye to it - we ASKED the Syrian government to do this to this innocent Canadian of Syrian background, someone, either Assad or someone fairly high up, gave the ok; the US and Canada perhaps assisting, made the specific request/demand.

      That's far worse than just considering him an asset "DESPITE" it - they considered his government an asset in part BECAUSE OF going along with this morally grotesque request/demand.

  10. Robert Fisk is in "this conspiracy" now too? He used his real name. (What nonsense to get all this mileage out of 2 different user names on the internet!) I do not know who did it and perhaps all these "specialists" here do not know either. What I do know is that it is all very murky and Bandar Bush - using his real name - has a checkered history in Afghanistan and in the Iran Contra scandal. That aloneshould cause you people to use some caution.

  11. This website claims the analysis implicating the Syrian Army is faulty:

    " But that analysis is faulty. At least one of the two rockets the UN commission assessed contained no chemical agent at all. In the whole area where that one rocket was found none of the environmental probe showed any sign of a chemical weapon impact. It is therefore not legit to use that impact as a direction finding point for the launch point of the chemical weapon incident. Before and after the chemical incident the sites the UN visited had been reported to be under conventional artillery attack. There is no conclusive evidence that binds the rocket debris found to the chemical incident.

    Specifically the first site the UN commission visited was near Moadamiyah, south of Damascus. The investigators took blood and urine samples from some people they met on their visit there. Those samples proved positive for exposure to Sarin. But all environment samples taken in Moadamiyah proved negative (Appendix 6 and 7 of the UN report. Sample 1 to 12 taken on August 26.) If those person found in Moadamiyah would have been exposed in Moadamiyah the environment there would also have been exposed. But the UN team found that this was not the case. The persons must have been moved to Moadamiyah after having been exposed elsewhere. The 140 mm rocket the UN team assessed in Moadamiyah can thereby not be implicated in the chemical attack."

    Things are far from being clear.

  12. This is really very bad affect on people after chemical thrown by Syria. US take some strict action on this activity. After that Syria apologize its mistake
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  13. This article consists of an analysis that raises many questions that need to be answered, especially by those who seem to be certain that the CW attacks in the Ghouta area was done by government forces.

    In conclusion it states:

    “... This UN Report raises more questions than it answers. The entire population it interviewed – witnesses, patients, doctors – share a bias toward rebels. Almost all were pre-selected by the opposition and presented to the UN team for a rushed investigation. The munitions forensics provide little evidence as to their point of origin, which is critical to determine culpability. The human and environmental testing are inconclusive in that they don’t provide enough information to help us determine what happened - and even suggest tampering and staging. Why would evidence need to be manufactured if this was a chemical weapons attack on a grand scale?
    At the end of the day, the UN Report does not tell us who, how or what happened in Ghouta on August 21. ..”

  14. ..



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  16. Did you see this latest analysis of Hersh’s article related to Ghouta gas attack?