Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – One of the things that he notes and other people who have dealt in chemical weapons analysis keep pointing out is there’s no one running around in the kind of hardware that you would expect medics and others who would treat people who had been hit with a military-grade chemical weapon, no one is running around in those types of suits. You don’t see respirators on. It doesn’t appear as though anyone that is treating the victims is suffering secondary exposure effects. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: When I read this last night, and when I posted it in the Pile of Prep, my thought was: Wow, why isn’t an individual like this being called upon to comment on our wall-to-wall cable news coverage of America’s next great war? I read to you from the blog site of a chemical weapons expert. I found this from Serge Trifkovic, who writes at the Chronicles Magazine website. The gentleman’s name is Jean Pascal Zanders. He is a chemical weapons expert. Here is the headline at his blog site, The Trench, Recalling where science, industry and military art converged, Challenging entrenched positions, “Apparently major chemical weapons attack near Damascus reported.” He’s been updating this since the first videos of this alleged chemical weapons attack occurred.
As I am writing, disturbing news reports are coming in of a major chemical attack on the eastern eastern outskirts of Damascus (Ghouta district). According to images and film footage posted to the Internet by opponents to the al-Assad regime, many casualties, including fatalities can be seen. Supplementary visual testimony strongly indicates poisoning.
In past blog postings and commentaries I have been skeptical of CW claims, because the narrative accompanying images and film footage did not correspond with what could be seen. More importantly, a number of things one would expect to see after a CW attack were missing. Some stories as they appeared in the press just did not add up. (Recall how the initial reports on the March attack referred to chlorine, while today everybody seems to insist that it was sarin.) While there were indicators of exposure to toxicants, the evidence lacked density and there were many alternative plausible explanations for the symptoms. The United Kingdom, France, the United States and Russia supplied evidence (including analyses of samples taken out of Syria) to the United Nations in support of their request to investigate multiple allegations, but offered no concrete details to the public. Furthermore, as those samples had not been analyzed in other than national laboratories and government representatives were referring to ‘their evidence’ to buttress arguments in support of military intervention or arming the insurgents, the specter of the Iraq invasion ten years ago sufficed to retain a healthy dose of scepticism.
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The footage from the current alleged attack(s) in the Ghouta district seems to offer more convincing evidence of poisoning through asphyxiation (witness the pinkish-bluish hue on the faces of some of the fatalities). Further elements that seem to confirm exposure to toxicants are the unfocussed and rolling eyes, severe breathing difficulties, in one instance a very erect penis, and possible signs of urination or defecation on trousers (although this is difficult to say, given that the hospital floor is covered with water as staff seems to hose water over every victim). None of the victims appeared to have external wounds from blast, shrapnel or bullets.
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I am not sure whether the claims of nerve agent use accompanying the footage and images are correct. The people are not convulsing (except for one man shaking his legs while shouting out, but the remainder of his body does not suffer from involuntary contractions) and I have not seen anybody applying nerve agent antidotes. Nor do medical staff and other people appear to suffer from secondary exposure while carrying or treating victims.
It is clear that something terrible has happened. The scenes could not have been stage managed. However, it is extremely puzzling that government forces would launch a chemical attack precisely at the moment when UN inspectors are finally in the country to investigate some of the earlier allegations. The official news agency SANA has meanwhile denied the allegation.
So, the big question mark now is whether UN Secretary-General is going to use the authority of his office to demand that the UN inspection team that is already inside Syria investigate this new site of alleged attack. After all, this time around, the forensic, medical and other physical evidence would still be around and the team would be able to guarantee the integrity of the chain of custody of all evidence, something that was lacking in all previous claims.
Mike: In another post, he posts that he is not treating this as a CW, as a chemical weapons attack. It is apparent that some sort of toxicant was released but it doesn’t appear to be military grade. One of the things that he notes and other people who have dealt in chemical weapons analysis keep pointing out is there’s no one running around in the kind of hardware that you would expect medics and others who would treat people who had been hit with a military-grade chemical weapon, no one is running around in those types of suits. You don’t see respirators on. It doesn’t appear as though anyone that is treating the victims is suffering secondary exposure effects. As I keep reading some of these reports from people that know things about chemical weapons, this is one of the things that you would expect to see. In other words, the chemical weapon doesn’t just detonate and then cause mayhem, death, destruction. It has a lingering effect. If you get near it or you’re exposed to someone who has been exposed to it, there’s a very good chance that it will affect you as well. We don’t see any indication of that in the footage that was supplied by who knows. Yet we are convinced [mocking] “We know who did this.” No, you don’t know who did it. While all this is going on, the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad was interviewed yesterday in a very wide-ranging interview. The question was asked of him: Mr. President, did you launch the chemical weapons attack? I’ll read you the question as it was asked.
Interviewer: Mr. President, this interview will be translated into several international languages, and shall be read by world leaders, some who may currently be working against you. What would you like to say to them?
President Assad: Today there are many Western politicians, but very few statesmen. Some of these politicians do not read history or even learn from it, whilst others do not even remember recent events. Have these politicians learned any lessons from the past 50 years at least? Have they not realized that since the Vietnam War, all the wars their predecessors have waged have failed? Have they not learned that they have gained nothing from these wars but the destruction of the countries they fought, which has had a destabilizing effect on the Middle East and other parts of the world? Have they not comprehended that all of these wars have not made people in the region appreciate them or believe in their policies?
From another perspective, these politicians should know that terrorism is not a winning card you play when it suits you and keep it in your pocket when it doesn’t. Terrorism is like a scorpion; it can unexpectedly sting you at any time. Therefore, you cannot support terrorism in Syria whilst fighting it in Mali; you cannot support terrorism in Chechnya and fight it in Afghanistan.
Our message to the world is straightforward: Syria will never become a Western ‘puppet’ state. We are an independent country; we will fight terrorism and we will freely build relationships with countries in a way that best serves the interests of the Syrian people.
Interviewer: On Wednesday, the rebels accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons; some Western leaders adopted these accusations. What is your response to this? Will you allow the UN inspectors access to the site to investigate the incident?
Mike: By the way, you probably didn’t know this because you haven’t heard this on the Clinton News Network, Fox News, or wherever you’re getting your Syria news. I didn’t even know this. The UN weapons inspection team was already in Syria. They were already there when the last alleged chemical weapons attack, which was filmed last week, occurred.
President Assad: The statements by the American administration, the West and other countries were made with disdain and blatant disrespect of their own public opinion; there isn’t a body in the world, let alone a superpower, that makes an accusation and then goes about collecting evidence to prove its point. The American administration made the accusation on Wednesday and two days later announced that they would start to collect the evidence – what evidence is it going to gather from afar?!
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They claim that the area in question is under the control of the rebels and that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons. In fact, the area is in contiguity with the Syrian Army positions, so how is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located; this is preposterous! These accusations are completely politicized and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists.
As for the UN Commission, we were the first to request a UN investigation when terrorists launched rockets that carried toxic gas in the outskirts of Aleppo. Several months before the attack, American and Western statements were already preparing public opinion of the potential use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. This raised our suspicion that they were aware of the terrorists’ intentions to use these weapons in order to blame the Syrian government. After liaising with Russia, we decided to request a commission to investigate the incident. Whereas we requested an investigation based on the facts on the ground, not on rumors or allegations; the US, France and the UK have tried to exploit the incident to investigate allegations rather than happenings.
During the last few weeks, we have worked with the Commission and set the guidelines for cooperation. First of these, is that our national sovereignty is a red line and as such the Commission will directly liaise with us during the process. [Mike: Then there’s more on the process.]
Interviewer: Recent statements by the American administration and other Western governments have stated that the US has not ruled out military intervention in Syria. In light of this, is it looking more likely that the US would behave in the same way it did in Iraq, in other words look for a pretext for military intervention?
President Assad: This is not the first time that the possibility of military intervention has been raised. From the outset, the US, along with France and Britain, has strived for military intervention in Syria. Unfortunately for them, events took a different course with the balance shifting against their interests in the Security Council despite their numerous attempts to haggle with Russia and China, but to no avail. The negative outcomes that emerged in Libya and Egypt were also not in their favor. [Mike: That’s right, folks. You don’t even have to go very far back in history to see the negative consequences and negative effects of our intervention and our allied intervention in the affairs of these countries in the Middle East.]
The situation in Libya also differs to that of Egypt and Tunisia, and Syria as I have said is very different from all these. Each country has a unique situation and applying the same scenario across the board is no longer a plausible option. No doubt they can wage wars, but they cannot predict where they will spread or how they will end. This has led them to realize that all their crafted scenarios have now spiraled out of their control.
It is now crystal clear to everybody that what is happening in Syria is not a popular revolution pushing for political reform, but targeted terrorism aimed at destroying the Syrian state.
Mike: Not only is the president of Syria — I don’t want to sound like I’m a homer for Bashar al-Assad, but he is the president of a sovereign country. There is an internecine or some kind of strife going on inside of his own country. It seems to me that all the agitation from our point of view has been against the legitimate government of that country, and it has been against that legitimate government to side with the illegitimate government, which is comprised largely of terrorists.
End Mike Church Show Transcript