Trump Forbids Reporting on Briefing Russia Knew About Syrian Attack
Last week many of us wondered about the timing of the Syria attack. How was Assad able to do this without Russian knowledge? Without Russian airplanes and Russian assistance, Assad couldn’t hold onto Syria.
Could this have been Russia trying to change the story in the US? At the time this might have seemed ‘conspiratorial’-assuming you’ve been asleep the last two years of American politics.
And now we know-according to the US, Russia did know about the Syrian strikes.
“The United States has made a preliminary conclusion that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week, but has no proof of Moscow’s involvement, a senior U.S. official said Monday.”
“The official said that a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.”
“The U.S. official said the presence of the surveillance drone over the hospital couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.”
That’s a hell of a charge-that Russia deliberately bombed a hospital to hide that it was a chemical weapon attack.
“The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity, didn’t give precise timing for when the drone was in the area, where more than 80 people were killed. The official also didn’t provide details for the military and intelligence information that form the basis of what the Pentagon now believes.”
“Another U.S. official cautioned that no final American determination has been made that Russia knew ahead of time that chemical weapons would be used. That official wasn’t authorized to speak about internal administration deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.”
“The allegation of Russian foreknowledge is grave, even by the standards of the currently dismal U.S.-Russian relations.”
What does Russia gain by this? The Trump-Russia story is off the front page. Remember Rex Tillerson and Putin are best friends. But with that Syrian attack last Tuesday and then Trump’s Thursday response they suddenly don’t seem like buddies. Tillerson has been talking tough about Russia and demanding they abandon Assad.
Of course, this also might give them more room for a deal. And you can imagine a deal where Russia bails on Assad in exchange for getting to keep Crimea. Which has been their agenda going back to Carter Page last Summer and Erik Prince back in February.
So if Russia did know about the Syria attack that begs some pretty uncomfortable questions. No wonder the WH suddenly forbade reporting on a briefing reporters had on this bombshell.
“Background briefings are fairly common, off-the-record briefings less so, and canceling one or the other happens occasionally. But, as someone who worked as a White House reporter for seven years, beginning a briefing on background and changing it to an off-the-record is something I have never heard of.”
“The unusual circumstances allowed the pool reporter a loophole to reveal at least one source for the briefing, mysterious Trump senior national security official Michael Anton. Ordinarily, officials at a background or off-the-record briefing are anonymous, but the reporter took advantage of the situation to get Anton’s name out.”
“Whatever the reason for the change, its occurrence, after yet another blow to Trump’s Syria airstrike mythology, hardly seems coincidental, but because the White House is forbidding journalists to report on it, we may never know.”
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) April 10, 2017
Yes, that Michael Anton.
The Palmer Report:
“In my article from April 6th, I posited that nothing about the Syrian gas attack or Donald Trump’s military response made sense unless Russian President Vladimir Putin had been pulling the strings (link). Today the Associated Press is confirming that Russia knew about the gas attack in advance, and went so far as to blow up a hospital to try to conceal evidence of its involvement (link). The part of my theory that’s not yet been confirmed or refuted is whether Trump knew Russia was behind the Syrian gas attack at the time he launched his own military strike.”
“So today’s White House panic move raises the question of whether Donald Trump and his people were merely taken so off guard by the Russia news that they weren’t prepared to give a response, or whether this is indeed evidence that Trump and the White House knew all along that Russia was behind it. More shoes will soon drop on this still unraveling storyline.”
And that’s the question. If Russia knew, did Trump also know? No wonder Michael Anton doesn’t want this briefing public.
It’s clear the WH has gained by the Syria story in the short term. Suddenly Russiagate is off cable news:
“Trump-Russia investigation is picking up steam. Cable news just isn’t talking much about it this week.”
Wag the Dog. But how far does it go? If Putin knew in advance, what was his motivation? What did Trump know in advance?
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
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