Monday 7 April 2014

What Does Seymour Hersh Knows About Volcano Rockets?

This morning, I wrote about Seymour Hersh's Volcano Problems, asking why Seymour Hersh left out key details on Volcano rockets from his recent piece for the London Review of Books, The Red Line and the Rat Line, about the August 21st Sarin attack.  Following my piece, Seymour Hersh appeared on Democracy Now, talking about the article, and finally spoke about the rockets used:

AMY GOODMAN : Sy, on Sunday, the EA WorldView website published a piece headlined "There is No Chemical Weapons Conspiracy-Dissecting Hersh's 'Exclusive' on Insurgents Once More." The author, Scott Lucas, questioned the claim that rebels could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack last August, given the range and scale of the operation. He wrote, quote, "Reports on the day and subsequently Not indicated that 7-12 sites were Attacked with chemical agents at the same time. In other words, whoever was responsible for the attacks Launched multiple surface-to-surface rockets with chemical payloads against opposition-held towns in East Ghouta and one town in West Ghouta, near Damascus. [The chemical] ... FOLLOWED BY ... heavy Conventional attacks were attacks. " The author, Scott Lucas says, is that you fail to ask questions about wheth anyone, apart from the regime, would have the ability to carry out such an extensive operation. Sy?

Seymour Hersh : [inaudible]-we're past that first article on. We know now. Actually, The New York Times even ran a retraction, of sorts. You had a-it was like reading Pravda. But if you read the article carefully, The New York Times had run a series of articles after the event saying that the warheads in question that did the damage to the car but from a Syrian army base, something like nine kilometers, six miles, away. And at that time, there were a number of of analysts, a group from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], led by Ted Postol, who used to be a science advisor to the CNO, the chief of naval operations, Busy somebody with a great deal of background and no bias. He did a series of studies that Concluded that the warheads with his team probably did not go more than one or two, at most, kilometers-two kilometers, 1.2 miles. And we now know from the UN report-a man named Aker Sellström, who ran the UN investigation, he's Concluded the same thing: These are missiles that were fired were fired no more than a mile.

They were-one from the footage looks-just saw one, they were homemade. They did not fit any of the known nomenclature of the weapons. And do not think we do not have a very good picture of what the warheads in terms of Syrianska have. They have a series of warheads that can deliver chemical weapons, and we know the dimensions of all of them. And none of these weapons that fit. And so, you have a UN report. You have this independent report saying they were-went no more than one or two kilometers. And so, I do not know why we're talking about multiple-launch rockets. These are homemade weapons. And it seems very clear to most observers-as I say, even to the UN team that did the final report-the UN, because of whatever rules they have, was not able to say is that-who fired what. They could just say-they just could describe the weapons and never make a judgment. But I can tell you, I quote somebody from inside that investigation unit who was fired weapons were very clear that the Syrian army and were not homemade. This is asked and answered; these are the arguments that go on. This is-I assume it's a blog. I do not know-I do not know the the blog.

So, point by point:
"These are missiles that were fired were fired no more than a mile" - Well, we don't know that, video of the Volcano rockets have shown them travelling at least 2km, (1.24 miles), and it's possible they have a longer range. It's much shorter than the previous estimates, as he correctly states, but videos from ANNA News, a Russian channel embedded with Syrian government forces show the frontline was around 2km away from the August 21st impact sites.

"[T]hey were homemade. They did not fit any of the known nomenclature of the weapons...They have a series of warheads that can deliver chemical weapons, and we know the dimensions of all of them. And none of these weapons that fit." - As I've repeatedly demonstrated, despite their appearance, there's clear evidence that the Syrian government has been using this family of munitions for over a year.  They don't fit any of the known nomenclature because they've been developed by the Syrian military and were virtually unknown before August 21st.

These are both issues I wrote about in my Foreign Policy article, Sy Hersh's Chemical Misfire, and questions that have been asked and answered repeatedly since.

So what's the answer to "What Does Seymour Hersh Knows About Volcano Rockets?" It seems barely anything at all, which is pretty shocking when so much information is available about them online, even in articles about Seymour Hersh's work on August 21st.  For someone making such huge accusations about the Turkish government's involvement in the August 21st Sarin attacks, you'd think he'd do at least a quick Google search the subject.


  1. Interesting that you choose to continually define the playing field and draw the lines, and then claim Hersch has lost once again when he shows up to play. More interesting is that Hersch apparently shows up and presumably agrees to your playing field, even if the game he intents to play is not on such a field. I don't know what to make of Scott Lucas and Dan Kaszeta's cheerleading, but to each his own.

    Hersch reports a number of very significant and troubling issues in his latest LRB piece vis-a-vis Turkey and the rat line. I would characterize those as profoundly significant - not that I would ever expect the Guardian, NYT or WaPo to dare report such dangerous and 'administratively unapproved' news to the sheeple.

    Granted, you are on top of the Volcanos and have done a considerable amount of work (for free) on the matter, Elliot. I don't quibble with whatever faults you see in Hersch's descriptions and I would probably defer to you. Likewise, I would have to defer to Hersch's descriptions of political subterfuge, Turkish rat lines and Libyan arms suppliers. Hersch didn't invent the idea. He simply sews together parts of the scheme that are already well-suspected and well-known in the Western intelligence communities.

    The playing field your continually constructing is one based on Volcano delivery of Sarin warheads to East Ghouta on the 21st. I have yet to see HRW provide anything except vague references to 'locals' pinpointing the 17 (or was it 14 or 11 or 8?) impact locations. Out of those 17, there is a total of - what? Four or five with video evidence of their remains that allow geolocation? In all this time in an event of this magnitude, no other Syrian thought to snap a picture or take a video of ANY of the other supposed impact locations since then even though they were all well into opposition-controlled territory? You can't even say if they existed, much less were Volcanos.

    This all presumes that Volcanos were, in fact, used to deliver anything besides high explosives that morning. Between wind speed / direction and plume modeling of the claimed impact locations, it's not hard to picture bulk dispersion at the surface from any number of OTHER means. Maybe four or six drums worth, not 'tons'. There was Volcano debris in locations that were affected by Sarin, but does not equal "Volcanos were the source of that Sarin".

    The motivation and means for Turkey to facilitate a chemical attack by a small group of JAN rebels is a question that stands on it's own. Such a group would have little need or desire to use Volcanos to deliver CWs that evening. All they need is an artillery barrage by the SAA, lots of confusion and some photogenic Volcano debris.

    Arguing Volcanos is interesting and all, but I have to admit being captivated by the larger question posed by Hersch's allegations: When will Obama launch Tomahawks against NATO member Turkey and JAN for crossing his red line on CWs?

    1. You're spouting crazytalk, you know that, right?

  2. Interview with Col Pat Lang , ex DIA.
    starts some 20 minutes in.

  3. no reply from brown moses to paveways post