Kerry’s Unenviable Record for Veracity

Ray McGovern, July 21, 2014

The last time major war loomed on the near horizon, Secretary of State John Kerry played fast and loose with the facts. On Aug. 30, 2013 he solemnly claimed, no fewer than 35 times, “We know” the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for chemical attacks outside Damascus on August 21.

Just a few days later, it became abundantly clear that Kerry did not know. On Aug. 30, no one knew for sure. And, to their credit, my former colleagues in CIA and in the Defense Intelligence Agency stood their ground in refusing to say “we know” when U.S. intelligence did not know. We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) tried to alert President Barack Obama to this in a Memorandum for the President on September 6. [for details, see Consortium News.com's Obama Warned on Syrian Intel.]

Determined to avoid a repeat of the fraudulent intelligence performance on WMD before the March 2003 attack on Iraq, this time our former colleagues refused to “fix the intelligence around the policy,” as the British Downing Street Minutes document put it. The opposition was so strong that not even the malleable CIA Director, John Brennan, was able to provide Kerry with the usual “Intelligence Assessment” he wanted. So the best he could do was to issue a “Government Assessment” bereft of verifiable evidence.

It was, from the start, twisting logic out of shape to reason that Assad would have seen merit in launching such a chemical attack a couple of days after UN inspectors arrived in Damascus precisely to investigate previous incidents of this type. Besides, the evidence quickly began to accumulate that the Syrian rebels had Sarin gas and that it was they who were responsible for what had happened near Damascus on August 21.

Why? Because they had suffered a string of setbacks earlier last summer, and because they, the Turks, and others were becoming convinced that only open US military involvement would have a good chance of staving off looming defeat. So they set out, with Kerry’s apparent support, to mousetrap President Obama into “retaliating” against Syria for crossing the “red line” Obama had set regarding the use of chemical weapons.

Kerry’s performance on August 30 was a clarion call for attacking Syria, and might have prevailed, were it not for the courage of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, who intervened and talked sense to the President. Less than 24 hours after Kerry spoke, Obama surprised virtually everyone by announcing that he had decided not to attack Syria immediately, but rather would go to Congress for authorization for such an attack.

The following day (Sept. 1), Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham angrily confirmed that Dempsey’s intervention had put the kibosh on their clearly expressed wish to attack Syria immediately. In the wake of Obama’s decision, France had to be told to decrease the alert status of the fighter-bombers it had on tarmac, and Israel had to be told it could relax the highest-alert posture of its defenses.

Kerry: Giving It the College Try

But an attack on Syria was still in play, and Kerry gave a bravura performance in his September 3 testimony to a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, whose leaders showed by their own remarks the degree to which they were lusting for an attack on Syria. Kerry’s testimony on Syria, which included a transparently dubious attempt to play down the role and effectiveness of al-Qaeda, drew unusual personal criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking of Kerry during a televised meeting of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council on Sept. 4, Putin said: “He is lying, and he knows he is lying. It is sad.”

Kerry continued to dissemble. Still arguing for war on Syria, Kerry was asked at the end of a Sept. 9 press conference in London whether there was anything at all that Assad could do to prevent a US attack. Kerry answered (quite dismissively – particularly in view of subsequent events) that Assad could give up all his chemical weapons, but “He isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.”

Later that same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Syrian counterpart announced that Syria had agreed to allow all its chemical weapons to be removed and destroyed. Cutting out Kerry, Obama had cut a deal directly with Putin. Syria’s chemical weapons have now been removed and destroyed.

The whole thing came as a serious blow to the neocons lusting for a US attack on Syria, as I was able to witness from a front-row seat at CNN, after doing an interview for their international service on Sept. 9. I had the “privilege” of being with neocons Joe Lieberman and Paul Wolfowitz at CNN’s Washington studio that evening, just hours after the deal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons was announced. They were disconsolate; the mood was funereal. I described our unusual encounter under the subhead “Morose at CNN.” [See Consortium News.com's How The War on Syria Lost its Way.]

Kick the Tires on Kerry’s Juggernaut

So this is the backdrop against which to give credence, or not, to Kerry as he stacks up the evidence against Russia for its alleged role in the shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner on Thursday over Ukraine. [For details, see Consortium News.com's Kerry's Latest Reckless Rush To Judgment.]

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He came to Washington over 50 years ago and worked as a CIA analyst under seven Presidents, one less than Gates. Ray now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Reprinted with permission from OpEd News.




11 Responses to “Kerry’s Unenviable Record for Veracity”

  1. Speaking of veracity and such things, I’m currently listening to one “Bastion Hartig”, an IDF spokesman (if we can call it that) explaining that the IDF had what he refers to as intelligence indications that Hamas was operating from the area of the hospital, which they then mortared (i.e. to kill anyone in the area of the hospital).

    To which any regular reasonable and sane human being would point out that even if you did have not just mere “indications”, but had actual hard evidence of Hamas being present, even then, that is still no sort of acceptable reason to mortar a civilian hospital full of sick elderly and also wounded civilians.

    Pretty obvious, right?

    So if we exclude the self-justifying nonsense coming from the criminal excusing their crime, what this implicitly leaves us with, is a material observed fact that to the IDF, a civilian hospital is valid ‘military’ target.

    It will be attacked and destroyed, regardless of it being full of helpless sick people, children, the elderly, mothers and fathers, and copious wounded civilians, as well.

    So when does the entire war cabinet of the Israeli government and the IDF’s senior ranks get indicted and arrested at the earliest opportunity, by Interpol?

    It’s an even greater crime that this isn’t happening or even being threatened at this point. No deterrent and no accountability means no constraint to Israeli war crimes.

    And if there is no justice at all for such things there will be only a constantly building squall of revenge and war to come.

    Is everyone at the Hague hibernating in Summer? Did they go on a camping holiday out of mobile reception? Are they watching Dancing with the Stars? They’re getting paid to do something, right? Or did they get defunded? Can someone at least kick them under the table, to see if they’re still alive, and if not, organize a hearse and a Positions Vacant add?

  2. “… Why? Because they had suffered a string of setbacks earlier last summer, and because they, the Turks, and others were becoming convinced that only open US military involvement would have a good chance of staving off looming defeat. …”

    Consider this: If Kerry and Obama and Turkey and Sauds had gotten their way last Sept and the US bombed Asad’s government and heavy military force defenses out of existence, can you guess who would have stepped in to take over Damascus and also Lebanon? (have ya’s seen Libya’s streets lately?). And would now be on Israel’s northern and Golan border? I’m pretty sure a few thousand small rockets from Gaza would then be the very least of the IDF’s existential narrative-making, if both Obama and also Netanyahu had both got what they demanded at that time. the Region would be in such a horrendous mess, much worse than even now.

    That instance, and Libya then and today, and Iraq then and now today, and soon to be Afghanistan tomorrow, is why you should not bomb another country.

    ISIS would not have stood any real chance of emerging as it has, if the US and pals like Turkey had not concertedly destabilized multiple states and armed the worst of doomsday-extremists, ever since the Soviets went into Afghanistan in 1979. Kerry, Obama of the US, and Netanyahu etal., for Israel, are just icing on the cake of protracted neocon-enabled regional and leadership failure.

    When your economy and manufacturing sector is addicted to weapons production you’re left with no way out, for if you cut the military ‘investment’, the stocks in the largest and most critical part of your economy will go into a swoon. If they plunge then the entire market will plunge, and your TBTF FIRE sector and financial system with it.

    So you manufacture reasons to bomb people, which supports the stock price, and TBTF banks, and you must then forget that you wanted/needed the weapons in the first instance to create security and a more stable world, free of the “Never-Again!”, bitter lesson of WWII.

    How we doin’ Barry?

  3. Not even mentioning the permanently fishy proofs of "Russian troops in Ukraine" consisting in grainy photographs comparing beards pumped out by State. Then suddenly there is incontrovertible proof that whole convoys of vehicles passed the border last week or two weeks ago??? Right.

    Kerry used to be prosecutor, right? I hope no-one was convicted.

  4. It isn't just Kerry who is out there lying. Damn near everyone I've seen on tv is a proven liar dating back to 2002-3. These fools have no credibility.

  5. [Tom ... test of 2.]

    Speaking of veracity and such things, I’m currently listening to one “Bastion Hartig”, an IDF spokesman (if we can call it that) explaining that the IDF had what he refers to as intelligence indications that Hamas was operating from the area of the hospital, which they then mortared (i.e. to kill anyone in the area of the hospital).

    To which any regular reasonable and sane human being would point out that even if you did have not just mere “indications”, but had actual hard evidence of Hamas being present, even then, that is still no sort of acceptable reason to mortar a civilian hospital full of sick elderly and also wounded civilians.

    Pretty obvious, right?

    So if we exclude the self-justifying nonsense coming from the criminal excusing their crime, what this implicitly leaves us with, is a material observed fact that to the IDF, a civilian hospital is valid ‘military’ target.

    It will be attacked and destroyed, regardless of it being full of helpless sick people, children, the elderly, mothers and fathers, and copious wounded civilians, as well.

    So when does the entire war cabinet of the Israeli government and the IDF’s senior ranks get indicted and arrested at the earliest opportunity, by Interpol?

    It’s an even greater crime that this isn’t happening or even being threatened at this point. No deterrent and no accountability means no constraint to Israeli war crimes.

    And if there is no justice at all for such things there will be only a constantly building squall of revenge and war to come.

    Is everyone at the Hague hibernating in Summer? Did they go on a camping holiday out of mobile reception? Are they watching Dancing with the Stars? They’re getting paid to do something, right? Or did they get defunded? Can someone at least kick them under the table, to see if they’re still alive, and if not, organize a hearse and a Positions Vacant add?

  6. If Kerry's lips are moving, the feckless freak is lying.

  7. Non at the USG been honest nor have understanding for their politics and its outcome, Syria and ISIS is the result of a biased, antagonistic, favoritism politics that Barack Hussein Obama and state department been presenting in Middle East and Neo fascism in Ukraine costing American people working people $5 billion dollars, now how more billions would such a deceptive politics will costs is the question.

  8. "…In the wake of Obama’s decision, France had to be told to decrease the alert status of the fighter-bombers it had on tarmac…"

    Where Washington goes the lap dogs follow, and they stay put when Washington decides to not move in directly with military force. The aggression against Libya in 2011 only happened because Obama ordered it. The only place this rule does not apply is in Africa south of the Mediterranean. Hence, France's unilateral military assault against the "terrorists" in Mali last year.

    The Qaddafi government was not overthrown, but destroyed by U.S. led imperialist aggression, period.

    Syria could quickly be dispatched to the memory hole, but the anti-Russia agitprop is not going to stop until they do to Russia what was done in Ukraine back in February, and install a totally compliant sock puppet in Moscow (highly unlikely to ever happen). Bringing NATO to Russia's door step has been the plan all along since the reunification of Germany as a member of NATO. This policy goal is much more important than dismembering the Syrian state, which they have partially succeeded in doing already.

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