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The source is Mint Press, about which I know very little, but one of the two authors is Dale Gavlak, who I have heard relatively frequently on public radio, and I have seen her byline frequently on AP stories.

Here is the first few 'graphs:

EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

This article is a collaboration between Dale Gavlak reporting for Mint Press News and Yahya Ababneh.

Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Note that there is a disclaimer, "Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates."

The point here is that at this point, we have no information to who is responsible for dosing a very large number of people with an acetylcholinesterase antagonist (probably an organophosphate), and it's a bit early to be playing cruise missile ping pong.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    And, yes, I've read the 4 page public report, and there is no "there" there.

    6/24/05: Charlie the Tuna Creator Dies En lieu of flowers, please bring mayonnaise, chopped celery and paprika.

    by LunkHead on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 09:36:12 PM PDT

  •  Ummm... (38+ / 0-)

    If you admittedly know very little about the source, and the article contains the disclaimer that some info couldn't be independently verified, how can you call it a "credible report"?

  •  I don't mind pointing to this. but Im (15+ / 0-)

    not sure there's enough to call it "credible."

  •  It's "A Report". (12+ / 0-)

    If there's stronger confirmation, that would be interesting.

    1) Bomb Syria 2)???????????? 3) Lives saved!!!!!!

    by JesseCW on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:10:22 PM PDT

  •  Not a hoax - at least not the "by Gavlak" part (8+ / 0-)

    Dale Gavlak has it on her Twitter.

    The claims need much stronger evidence, of course, but I've tip'd and rec'd because it's on par with what little the government has offered us.

    "Yes We Can!" -- Barack Obama

    by Sucker Politics on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:17:28 PM PDT

  •  Not credible at all. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doroma, Hey338Too, jan4insight, SoCalSal, VClib

    “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

    by jeff in nyc on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:17:49 PM PDT

  •  Author Bio (5+ / 0-)

    Correspondents & Investigative Reporters
    Dale Gavlak
    Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News. Gavlak has been stationed in Amman, Jordan for over two decades. An expert in Middle Eastern affairs, Gavlak currently covers the Levant region of the Middle East, contributing to the AP, National Public Radio, BBC and Mint Press News, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago.

    Contact Dale at

    Power to the Peaceful!

    by misterwade on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:25:15 PM PDT

    •  The other Author Bio (5+ / 0-)

      Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism,  He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.

      It's worth a read. It strikes me as being better researched and written than most of what we read. Unless it is really good fiction, which I don't think is the case.

      Power to the Peaceful!

      by misterwade on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:39:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's because you have to dig a lot more... (0+ / 0-) come up with something that's so utterly against evidence, history, and reason.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:57:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It would not surprise me if the reporting is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        legit, and has a strong strand of truth running through it. Not saying that it does, but I would not be surprised if we learn that much of the story is true.

        Power to the Peaceful!

        by misterwade on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 10:48:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sure he really does have sources (0+ / 0-)

          who really reported the things he says they reported.

          I see no reason to doubt that.  It's not his credibility in question.

          1) Bomb Syria 2)???????????? 3) Lives saved!!!!!!

          by JesseCW on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 03:39:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly!!!!!!!!!! (0+ / 0-)

            It's not the journalists who aren't credible, it's the source.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:53:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Or, rather, whose credibility is unknown (0+ / 0-)

              and untestable.

              1) Bomb Syria 2)???????????? 3) Lives saved!!!!!!

              by JesseCW on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 06:15:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You must be kidding (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              some other george
              It's not the journalists who aren't credible, it's the source.
              I'm sorry, but that's a very dangerous belief.

              Something I learned long ago is that the more you personally know about a topic or an event, the clearer it is that news reports about said topic or event are substantially flawed.  Simply put, reporters generally know only some of what they're reporting (often very little), and quite frequently get what they think they "know" wrong.  It's a surprisingly consistent phenomenon.

              I consider every news report to be flawed (i.e., not fully credible) unless it's about a very simple, straightforward matter that easily can be verified.

              •  Ernest - I totally agree (0+ / 0-)

                I spent seven years in the MSM and the one thing I learned is that I don't believe anything I read, regardless of where it is published, until I have had time to really dig into multiple reports and read the source documents. Better yet to hear an audio and/or video of the sources so I can make my own judgement. My views were formed in an era, late 70s, when the MSM had better reporting. Today, so much of the news is slanted left or right and the reporters are filtering the information they present to favor a point of view.

                The only point of my initial comment was that the journalists seemed as though they had reasonable credentials, and many of the comments were about the journalists. However, the source was clearly biased so the diary title of a "Credible" report seemed inappropriate.  

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 07:10:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  It's really unfortunate... (14+ / 0-)

    It's really unfortunate that the UN investigators have been ordered out of Syria.

    I'm sure they would have been very interested by a report such as Gavlak's. They might even have asked around to see if it was correct.

    My view is that the author is as credible as any other journalist. The story... well, it would help if there were physical evidence, photographs, named witnesses, etc. As it is, we have hearsay from Abdel-Moneim, a rebel leader named J, and very circumstantial evidence about the role of Prince Bandar in assisting the rebels.

    Ironically, the report is likely to be true, since it makes no sense for Assad to all but invite the US to strike him. But without corroboration, it will not see the light of day in the US press and with good reason. It does not meet journalistic standards, IMO.

  •  Some corroboration (?) from Pepe Escobar (6+ / 0-)

    A different tale of what happened comes via
    Pepe Escobar, ATimes:

    Haytahm Manna, in exile for 35 years, is a key member of the non-armed Syrian opposition
    he debunks the US government's ''evidence'' of a chemical weapons attack as ''propaganda'' and ''psychological war''. He stresses the chemicals were launched with ''artisanal weapons''; that ties up with Russian intelligence, which is sure gas that it was delivered by a homemade missile fired from a base under opposition control (extensive details compiled here; scroll down to ''Qaboun rocket launches'').

    Manna also points to ''videos and photos on the Internet before the attacks''; to al-Qaeda's previous use of chemical weapons; and to the Russians as ''seriously working for the Geneva II negotiations'', unlike the Americans.

    In this telling the rebels deliberately launched the attack, whereas in Gavrek's telling, they bungled the handling of the sarin.

    If one doesn't agree with the thrust of the article, the writing is at least entertaining.

    •  In this article (5+ / 0-)

      Escobar notes the price of each Tomahawk missile at $1.5 million and that there are already 384 of them in position in the Med.

      Over half a billion $$ in place to teach some people a lesson based on shaky evidence.

      Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

      by truong son traveler on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 01:25:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the laugh! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Pepe Escobar has been a fixture of the not-news community of the Left for years.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:58:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You seem rather self-satisfied, Rich (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YucatanMan, misterwade

        It must be nice to be so self-satisfied when your analysis has been, in my experience, so consistently and smugly wrong.

        I don't read any journalism unquestioningly, not even Judy Miller and Jayson Blair,--or the current crop of US press sycophants who are reporting the Administration's claims so unskeptically. I certainly don't expect anyone to believe Escobar without corroboration. But he's laid out a hypothesis.

        Unlike the load of manure the Administration has delivered, Escobar's is sourced. And, as thin as it is, it's a heckuva lot more likely to be right than you.  

  •  here is an interesting summing up (12+ / 0-)
    US and UK dossiers leave confusion over Syrian chemical weapons
    Within hours of publication, the Obama administration's documentation on Syria, which is being used to support the case for US-led direct military strikes on the country, has been criticised for its lack of verifiable detail.

    The three-page white paper, which claims to prove the culpability of the Assad regime for a chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus, contains no direct quotes, no photographic evidence, no named sources, and no independently supported evidence, notes analyst Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He now heads up the Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ) in the United States.

    "The white paper against Syria is noteworthy in that it lacks any specifics that can be assessed independently, in contrast to, say, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s infamous presentation to the UN Security Council which included intercepted quotes from Iraqi officials and satellite photographs of suspected Iraqi WMD locations," writes Mr Parry on

    For its "seemingly incriminating assertions, no supporting evidence is cited: no satellite or other photos of these military movements were released, no names of individuals mentioned, no communications intercepts published," writes Parry. "Just assertions attributed to 'sources' with no way to assess their reliability."

    He concludes: "The claims are so lacking in detail that they amount to an insistence that the American people and the world’s public simply trust the US government not to mislead them — again."

    The articles continues at length and also discusses the Dale Gavlak report

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:16:01 PM PDT

    •  Well of course we knew Iraq once had WMD (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, misterwade

      We sold them to them. But they did get rid of them. US foreign policy tends to be somewhere between retarded and brain-dead.

      "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

      by jfern on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 12:11:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  US foreign policy is working exactly as intended (5+ / 0-)

        It's purpose is to expand American hegemony, ensure national security needs are met and to protect and spread capitalism.

        If you look back on history, you will find that it has been remarkably successful in accomplishing all of this despite any blow-back it has created.

        American foreign policy was instrumental in making the US the richest country in the world. Up until the end of the 90's the majority of Americans were very proud of their foreign policy. Ensuring oil flowed from brown skinned countries into American automobiles and industries was an American birthright.

        The American Dream was predicated on US foreign policy.

        •  That's bullshit. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JohnB47, johnny wurster, Chi, Tamar
          Up until the end of the 90's the majority of Americans were very proud of their foreign policy.
          Vietnam? America was proud of Vietnam?
          Interesting timeline you choose there to make that statement, as though history stops right before the Iraq war. Iraq? America was proud of the Iraq foreign policy disaster?
          Come on.  
          •  Before 9/11 most Americans didn't equate (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Deward Hastings, Chi, dzog, YucatanMan

            American foreign policy with American military policy. They always thought the US was a force for good in the world even if they did not like it's military actions in certain cases. Maybe this was a construct of the cold war.

            Most people thought Clinton's foreign policy was reasonably good despite the fact that he dropped hundreds of cruise missiles and hundreds of tons of bombs on Iraq during his administration. Few even know about this.

            I believe 9/11 finally brought home the fact that American foreign policy is inexorably intertwined with American military policy.

            I am talking about the perceptions of the average American here. Even now a very large percentage of Americans think they live in the best country in the world, with the best education, the most opportunity for advancement, etc etc etc.

            But, this is changing. Maybe it is because of the internet.

            •  Selective amnesia. (4+ / 0-)
              Before 9/11 most Americans didn't equate American foreign policy with American military policy.
              That's just great. Before you got on the internet, Americans were all dumb bunnies, going along to get along. The Domino theory in southeast Asia as foreign policy? We knew. We knew at the time. But hey, you want to say "most" Americans believed our foreign policy was a force for good, just erase the largest civil disobedience protest in modern America up to the war in Iraq, well, go for it, after all, "maybe it is because of the internet."
              •  I'm curious- (0+ / 0-)
                But hey, you want to say "most" Americans believed our foreign policy was a force for good, just erase the largest civil disobedience protest in modern America
                You clearly disagree with the use of the term "most".

                Could you tell me exactly when war protestors and those sympathetic to war protesters were actually a majority in the US?

                I don't need exact dates, examples would be fine.

                •  Curious, huh? (0+ / 0-)

                  Go to Wikipedia, "Opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War".
                  In August 1968, public support was polled at 35%. Between August 1968 to May 1971, public support never rose above 39%. By May 1971, public support was 28%.

              •  I didn't say "Americans were all dumb bunnies" (0+ / 0-)

                It was just that most didn't give a shit about foreign affairs. If it wasn't plastered on the daily news ten times in a row, it didn't register. The majority had formed opinions that, at times, had little to do with reality.

                During the Vietnam years, the carnage going on in Vietnam wasn't connected with American foreign policy. It was a war gone bad in the fight against communism. The only way to back off from it was to separate it from this fight. It was only when the war became about supporting sides in a civil war in the minds of Americans that popular support crashed across the board. The American public still thought the US was a force for good in the world in it's existential fight against the demon communism.

                The Domino theory in southeast Asia as foreign policy? We knew. We knew at the time. But hey, you want to say "most" Americans believed our foreign policy was a force for good
                The majority of Americans continued to believe that the domino theory of the spread of communism was correct and thus was good foreign policy - even after the Vietnam war. It was used to great effect in Central and South America, Indonesia and Asia in the following decades. Good old America, saving all those countries from the scourge of communism. America was a force for good in the world they believed. The reality was that the US was spreading capitalism under the cover of 'democracy'. To this day, many Americans equate the two in their minds.

                This may be why Americans don't understand how their foreign policy really affects the world:

                TIME MAGAZINE COVERS: US vs. The rest of the world (8 Pics)

            •  'few even know about this?' Who DOESN"T know (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              about the bombing/cruise missile strikes during the no fly zones enforcement?

              You're not the same person who said 'few know about the 1953 coup in Iran' were you?  It was someone...I forget...

              •  What percentage of the public knew the truth (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                about the 1953 Iran coup and the extent and depth of American involvement? For most Americans, the overthrow of Mossadegh and replacement with the shah was a good thing because it was framed as fighting communism and ensuring a steady supply of oil for the US.

                When did this travesty of foreign policy dawn on the general public's consciousness?

                Gore Vidal:

                “The average ‘educated’ American has been made to believe that, somehow, the United States must lead the world even though hardly anyone has any information at all about those countries we are meant to lead. Worse, we have very little information about our own country and its past.”

                “We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic.”

  •  Thank you for this diary. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A good horse is never a bad color.

    by CcVenussPromise on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 02:15:12 AM PDT

  •  My problem, the U.S. says they know chemicals were (0+ / 0-)

    used and the Syrian government is the only ones with missiles to deliver it. I say what about the countries surrounding Syria? They talk as though missiles can only travel within Syria and not across the border from other countries. If they only know chemical were used, how do they know who to attack? That crap about only Syria has the missiles is a bunch of crock standing alone. The conclusions they came to, and ignoring all other possibilities, lead me to believe the whole thing about Assad did it, is to make Assad their target. Ain't falling for it.

    •  Why does it have to be from a missile? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Several 3 gallon carboys of neat organophophorus pesticide sitting on the ground and hit by a mortar round could do the same thing.

      Here's a potential scenario: Syrian forces are unable to displace rebel forces from an urban area, so they launch a series of conventional missiles. It turns out the rebels forces were protecting a pesticide or pharmaceutical plant that the rebels have retooled to produce a variety of organophophorus agents. The missiles land and disseminate the agent. Call it an industrial accident, like Bhopal, still pretty deadly.

      The reason why I keep saying the identity of the agent is crucial is that US has probably got pretty good surveillance of the known CW sites. Any new chemical incidents means we have not found all of the storage/production sites and that chemical agent is on the loose. Now we have to watch the borders for agent leaving the country and coming our way. If the rebels are capable of production of organophophorus compounds with toxicities within a fact or 10 to 100 of chemical agents, the US has a potential terrorist attack on their hands. It doesn't have to be GB or VX to be effective, there are lots of other options available. I hate to reference Rumsfeld, but it's the unknown unknowns that could bite us in the ass here.

    •  And just what 'country across the border' are you (0+ / 0-)

      suggesting launched a chemical weapon attack on a Damascus suburb?
      We're so lucky there are a few smart guys who aint falling for it.

  •  Maybe, to play it safe, (0+ / 0-)

    since we aren't sure WHICH side is using chemical weapons, we should kill the people on both sides of this civil war.  Really, how do we know they're not both using chemical weapons?  So we could just kill every Syrian in the whole country.  

    That would be a fine humanitarian mission.

    /snark  (sort of)

    •  I don't think it's snark at all. (0+ / 0-)

      I think we should have a conduct standard, and kill anyone who crosses lines either in terms of how they fight or what outcomes they want.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:59:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We? (0+ / 0-)

        "We" should have a standard of conduct and kill anyone who crosses a line?

        That's assuming an enormous amount of importance and prerogative for the US, more than we should have.  It's not good for us, not good for the rest of the world, to have the US going off on campaigns of superhero vigilante-ism that usually have motives that are less altruistic than they appear at first glance.

  •  More likely a Russian, Iranian and Assad PR ploy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton

    To muddy the waters and weaken any consensus for a response.

    There are multiple alleged sources for missiles or artillery originating from the regime held parts of Damascus and targetting 6 different locations in rebel controlled suburbs all at the same time... so that rules out accidents.

    That these munitions were fired from regime controlled areas means that for it to be the rebels they would have to somehow have sneaked into the area either carrying the ordinance with them or else steal some from regime stockpiles, launch them accurately and get out again. not likely.

    Supposedly there are numerous social media reports and images that build up a picture of it being a regime source attack also.

    For the rebels to intentionally gas six places in areas they hold in the Damascus suburbs would be far too risky... too many ways for it to be discovered and the delivery leave evidence of a local dispersal.

    Lets wait for the UN report. This disinformation reporting sounds like it is intended to blunt what they know will be UN reports confirming a gas attack... and this is meant to try and turn it around to blame the rebels.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:18:45 AM PDT

  •  You're all grasping at straws. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why not just go all paleo-con and say other people's business shouldn't be our business.  Because your way is just embarrassing.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:54:53 AM PDT

  •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sucker Politics, CcVenussPromise's no more or less credible than any other media report we're getting.

    Look where all the "good media sources" took us in 2003.

  •  FAIR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a media watchdog group. It finds the Mint Report more credible than what Kerry served up.

    •  FAIR site sayz been around since 1986. ALJAmerica (0+ / 0-)

      had a talking head on today. An Ed Husain who implied the same thing. Husain's wiki:

      He doubted Assad did this chemical attack. Thinks it may have been Assad's brother under direction of Russia/Iran.

      Starting to wonder Kerry and Obama may have been fed a bunch of bullshit about the satellites tracking WMD missiles by the present day CIA leadership.
      Good comment.

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