The White House has flatly denied a new report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh that claims the Obama administration manipulated intelligence reports to support its case for military intervention in Syria.
Hersh, who exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and reported American mistreatment of detainees at Iraq’s Abu Graib prison, said the Obama administration “cherry-picked intelligence” to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for an Aug. 21 nerve-gas attack.
“In some instances, (President Barack Obama) omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts,” Seymour reported Sunday in The London Review of Books.
“Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded — without assessing responsibility — had been used in the rocket attack.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. had proof that the attack was made on Assad’s orders, and Obama said in a Sept. 10 speech that the revelation had pushed him over the “red line” in considering a military strike on Syria.
A former senior intelligence official told Hersh that the Obama administration had altered the timing and sequence of some available information to give the appearance that it had been picked up and analyzed in real time, as the attack happened.
The official compared the distortion to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Lyndon B. Johnson administration had reversed the sequence of intelligence intercepts to justify one of the early bombings in North Vietnam.
“(Military and intelligence personnel) are throwing their hands in the air and saying, ‘How can we help this guy (Obama) when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’ the former official said.
However, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence dismissed Hersh’s report as “simply false.” see more