U.N. Casts Doubts on U.S. Claims About Assad Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons

The U.S. media is in full propaganda mode manufacturing consent for increasing intervention in the Syrian conflict, as I’ve commented about repeatedly. Here are two quick additional examples from the same day in the New York Times.

Under the headline “Syrian Rebels Say They Downed Helicopter Amid New Claims on Chemical Weapons“, the Times states:

President Obama has said he would intervene only if Syria has used chemical weapons or if such use is imminent.

And under the headline “White House Holds Firm on Cautious Path in Syria Crisis“, one can read:

Despite that reluctance, the White House is weighing more robust action, including supplying arms to the rebels — in part because of its conclusion that there was a strong likelihood that the Assad government has used chemical weapons on its citizens.

Never mind the fact that the U.S. has already been intervening in Syria to coordinate the flow of arms from its regional allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the rebels whose ranks include Islamic extremists.

That second article continues:

The rationale for that response could be undermined, however, if there was proof that the rebels themselves — some of whom are radical Islamists — had also used such weapons.

Indeed. The Times is referring to a recent statement from the U.N. that there is no evidence the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, but there is some evidence that the U.S.-backed rebels may have:

The assertion that there is evidence suggesting the rebels have used sarin was made by Carla Del Ponte, a former chief prosecutor for international criminal tribunals that investigated Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia who is now serving on a commission looking into human rights abuses in Syria.

But, returning again to the first article, watch how the Times tries to downplay the U.N. finding as not credible, but contrary claims from U.S. officials as more trustworthy. The Times stresses that there was “there was no ‘incontrovertible proof'” that the rebels had used chemical weapons, and that the commission of inquiry released later in Geneva qualified Ms. Del Ponte’s assertions, emphasizing ‘that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.'” It adds that

The United States also cast some doubt on Ms. Del Ponte’s assertions. George Little, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on them directly, but he told reporters in Washington: “It’s our very strong belief, based on what we know, that at this stage, if chemical weapons were used, the Syrian regime would be responsible.”

The Times could just as well point out that there is no “incontrovertible proof” that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons and emphasize all the caveats in the suggestions of U.S. officials that it might have done so, and it could just as easily have framed the matter by conversely stating that U.N. officials have cast doubt on U.S. officials’ assertions. But, then, framing it that way, as I’ve done in the title of this post, wouldn’t help serve the purpose of manufacturing consent for the U.S. policy of supporting the armed rebels to further its goal of regime change in Syria.

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