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Howard Altman: Why We Are So Confident That Assad Is Responsible for Chemical Attacks



Russia and Syria dismiss as frauds allegations that the regime of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in rebel-held Enuma Douma on 7 April.

So how did the US government come to Assad?

It was largely Assad's intent and skill and video recorded at the time of the attack, said Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of the Office of National Intelligence.

Gordon, deputy commander of the umbrella organization for the US The 17 US intelligence organizations were keynote speakers for the GEOINT 1

8 Symposium at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa on Tuesday. After their speech, we talked behind the scenes.

Gordon preceded her answer by saying she could not "talk all the way through it, but there are things we know."

For example?

Assad, who wins his seven-year struggle for what was left of his country with the help of Russia and Iran, "had the ability to use chemical and nerve agent agents, and used them before," Gordon said ,

Videos taken in Douma on April 7 at the time of the attack "would be very hard to make," she said. "So it is happening from so many sources right now, so those who suggest that it was an established event are not working for us." What we saw was consistent with the use of (chemical weapons) and, in some cases, nerve gas . "

Was there any other evidence?

"This was one of the first pieces of evidence we had, and I will not talk about the other evidence."

Gordon was also dismissing any claim that Jaish al-Islam, the Sunni Jihadi group, the Douma controlled, responsible for the attack. A Kurdish news organization said the group had done that before.

I notice again, "Things I can not talk about," Gordon said, "the rebels' means of doing that … seems unlikely." 19659002] Then she pulled Ockham's razor out.

"The most likely answer is the simplest answer," she said. "It just does not seem to agree with what the rebels would do."

I explained the importance of urging the intelligence services on this issue because the news organizations failed to do so in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This action was based on the false claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Gordon said the intelligence services' ability to track the presence of such materials has dramatically improved since Colin Powell argued before the United Nations for an invasion of a weapons program that later proved non-existent.

As Gordon explains it today:

"I would just say improving the analytical craftwork after the run-up to the Iraq war, in terms of how we communicate our confidence in the data we have and the evaluation we have made is so far advanced. "

Gordon and I have also talked about Russian influence during the 2016 presidential election. She expects the Russians to try to do it again.

Russia's efforts to confuse the integrity of the electoral process "were based on its doctrine of undermining democracies," Gordon said. "So you will see that they continue to exploit every advantage they could have."

But the intelligence services are doing "excellent work" to counteract this, starting with the unclassified assessment of the elections that have alarmed the nation the world for this activity, "she said.

" What a great thing about an open society is, is that when you know that you are being cheated, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Do you think that Russia will continue to pursue it? Intention? Yes I do. Do I think we are better off every day to understand what that looks like and how we can handle it? Yes.

How to work for an unpredictable leader like President Donald Trump Gordon frequently said, "There is more commotion than fundamental trouble.

"It probably hurts a bit if our integrity is questioned, but I actually think the combination of Mike Pompeo as (CIA director) and Dan Coats as director of national intelligence ha you become a really important part of National Security Team, and the President listens to their vote. "

• The Pentagon announced no new casualties in ongoing operations last week

There were 2,347 US deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 49 deaths by US troops and a death of a civilian defense minister in support of the follow-up, Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan; 54 troop dead and two civilian dead in support of Operation Inherent Resolve; a troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against the Islamic State in Libya; a death classified as an emergency response in the global war on terrorism; and four killed in ongoing operations in Africa, where, if they have a title, officials will not divulge them.

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman


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