Thursday, April 20, 2017

Theodore Postol: Khan Sheikhoun Victim Videos Can’t Be from the Claimed "Sarin" Munitions Site

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Worker in rebel-held Idlib province squatting with minimal protective clothing at the site claimed by the White House Intelligence Report to be ground-zero for the "sarin bomb." Note the constructed (i.e., not carved from rock face) dwellings in the background.

by Gaius Publius

"I think there is no motive for [Assad] doing this and I think it makes it highly incredible that this was actually carried out by Syria. [...]

"First of all, [Assad] knew with certainty that if he used sarin gas, he would incur the wrath of the entire world. Secondly, he is winning the war on every front and so there is no incentive to do something desperate. Third, if he were to feel that somehow he had to use sarin gas … he wouldn’t waste it on simply killing some people walking down the street."
— Virginia State Sen. Richard Black, April 7, 2017

Bottom line first — I know this story line is starting to sound very "aluminum tubes"-like (a reference to Colin Powell's now-proved-false testimony to the U.N. about Saddam's imagined weapons of mass destruction). That's because the story is looking very "aluminum tube"-like. Sorry; I can't help that. More and more of the evidence is pointing away from "reason to go to war" and toward a "fake reasons to go to war."

Sorry, but again, I can't help that. We're just following the evidence, as unorthodox as that makes the story sound. For consolation, remember how unorthodox, even unpatriotic, the anti-Iraq War voices were presented as sounding in 2002 and 2003 — and how "well, that was obvious" they sound today.

Now the story for today. (To skip my introduction and go directly to Dr. Postol's latest report, printed in full below, click here.)

I've recently been featuring various analyses of the so-called "gas attack" on April 4 against the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun — the one that caused the U.S. military and Trump administration to respond with a Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airfield on April 7.

As a result of questions raised in the U.S. and international community about the U.S. strike — not only about its legality, but the intelligence that determined Assad's guilt — the U.S. put out a White House Intelligence Report (WHR) on April 11 containing its justifications for the airfield strike.

In the U.S., skepticism about the U.S. government's conclusion — that they have a "very high level of confidence that the attacks were carried out by aircraft under the direction of the Bashar al-Assad regime" — is almost non-existent, at least among members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, elite opinion makers like the New York Times, and the vast majority of those in broadcast news.

There have been voices, though, expressing skepticism, but just as during the run-up the Iraq war in 2002, those voices are little heeded, rarely amplified, frequently ridiculed.

Among those dissenting voices are groups of ex-intelligence officials with contacts among their still-working peers (detailed here: "The "Assad Launched a Chemical Attack" Story Has Not Been Proved"). Many of these former intelligence officials were also involved in the pushback against the 2003 Iraq War, and were also ridiculed then. Others are noted whistleblowers with solid reputations for integrity, such as William Binney and Thomas Drake.

Dr. Theodore Postol Weighs In

More recently, one of the more prominent voices expressing doubt (great doubt in fact, as you'll read shortly) about the now-canonical story — "Assad gassed his own people!" — is Dr. Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT.

You can read a little more about Dr. Postol's background and bona fides at his MIT faculty page. Note the work at Argonne National Laboratory; with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment; and as a scientific adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations. One of his areas of expertise is missile defense systems. Dr. Postol was also called as an expert witness in a pre-Iraq War lawsuit brought against a prominent defense contractor, TRW, for fraud.

Up to this point, Dr. Postol has published or distributed three documents looking at the publicly available physical evidence at the Khan Sheikhoun site, including hundreds of videos, many purporting to be videos of the victims at Khan Sheikhoun, others showing the crater the White House Report alleges to be the source of the "sarin bomb." The videos also show how the munitions crater and nearby areas were handled and treated by men wearing (rebel-held) Idlib province health directorate uniforms.

Dr. Postol's first assessment report is available here. In it, he looks at the supposed "bomb" — a pipe really (see image below) — found in a roadbed crater in Khan Sheikhoun. He notes that the pipe appears to have been been "flattened from the outside [as to exploded from within] and has failed along its length and at the far end" as though it were subject to strong downward pressure from above it.


In other words, the munition claimed by the U.S. government, if it contained sarin at all, which has not been demonstrated, appears to have been crushed from above by an explosive device place on top of it. The figure following Figure 2 in Postol's report shows how that could be accomplished.

Dr. Postol's first report was a quick assessment produced immediately after the WH report was issued. Dr. Postol then issued an Addendum (a copy can be found here) that studied pictures of Idlib province workers at the munition site. In it, Postol considers the protective clothing of those workers (my emphasis below):
Figure 1 shows a man standing in the alleged sarin-release crater. He is wearing a honeycomb facemask that is designed to filter small particles from the air. Other apparel on him is an open necked cloth shirt and what appear to be medical exam gloves. [...]

If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin.
Dr. Postol's third report — published in full here — expands on his earlier work and concludes that no competent intelligence professional could have reached the conclusion found in the WHR by examining the evidence available (emphasis mine):
As noted in my earlier reports, the assumption in WHR that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with was totally unjustified and no competent intelligence analyst would have agreed that this assumption was valid. The implication of this observation is clear – the WHR was not reviewed and released by any competent intelligence experts unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report. [...]

It is now obvious that this incident produced by the WHR, while just as serious in terms of the dangers it created for US security, was a clumsy and outright fabrication of a report that was certainly not supported by the intelligence community.
That's fairly damning. If you read the reports yourself, you'll see why.

Were the Videos of the Victims Shot Near the "Bomb" Site?

Dr. Postol has now released a new report, "The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur," which is reprinted in full below, that examines the wind and terrain at the supposed "bomb" site. There he finds the following (my emphasis):
Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space and the sarin cloud would have had to travel long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.

Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated from sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos.
The evidence for this is in the report, again, published in full below. Dr. Postol concludes:
The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.
To summarize:
  • There is doubt that the munition was a bomb dropped from a plane. It appears to be a pipe bomb placed in the street and exploded from a charge placed above it.
     
  • There is doubt that the munition contained sarin. Workers at the site were inadequately protected against sarin and appear to be unharmed.
     
  • There is evidence of possible tampering with the site and the munition by by those workers, some of whom are dressed as province health officials. Ibdib province is rebel-held.
And now there's doubt that videos of the victims were even shot where the WHR says they were shot.

As you read the report below, if you do, note that the videos of the victims were taken in an area that has dwellings carved out of rock in the background. The only empty area near the munition site where the wind could have taken airborne sarin contains constructed dwellings:
The last collection of 18 video frames is from the area where mass casualties were piled on the ground haphazardly dead or dying. Among these casualties were infants as well as men and women. This scene clearly could not have been at the location of the Hamlet as one can see that the walls surrounding the area are carved out of rock. Thus, this scene could not possibly have been at the Hamlet.
Here are two images from the report below. The first shows the area round the supposed munition site.


The yellow arrow at the left shows which direction is north. The yellow arrow at the right starts at the munition site and points in the direction of the wind at the time of the blast. Most of the victims would have been located in the open area that begins at the upper right. Note the constructed dwellings.

The second is taken from videos of the handling of the victims:


Note in these images, and other victim images in the report, that dwellings in the background are carved from rock. People in the images above do not appear to have been transported to a treatment area; many seem to be laying where they fell. Clearly this raises considerable doubts as to whether the videos of these victims were shot near the "bomb" site as claimed in the White House intelligence report justifying the Tomahawk missile strike.

With that, I offer Dr. Postol's complete fourth report below.

GP



April 18, 2017

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur:

Analysis of the Times and Locations of Critical Events in the
Alleged Nerve Agent Attack
at 7 AM on April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria

Introduction

This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun [aka Sheikhoun], Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space and the sarin cloud would have had to travel long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.

Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated from sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos [emphasis mine].

The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR [emphasis mine].

The findings of this analysis can serve two important purposes:
  1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity. In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will further confirm that the findings reported by the WHR are not compatible with the data it cites as evidence for its conclusions.
     
  2. It also establishes that the WHR did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

    This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the WHR presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and to a standard of high confidence.
Methodology Used in This Analysis

The construction of the time of day at which particular video frames were generated is determined by simply using the planetary geometry of the sun angle during the day on April 4. The illustration below of the sun-angle geometry shows the Day/Night Sun Terminator at the location of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The angle of the sun relative to local horizontal is summarized in the table that follows the image of the planetary geometry along with the temperature during the day between 6:30 AM and 6 PM.

The next set of two side-by-side images shows the shadows at a location where a large number of poison victims are being treated in what appears to be the aftermath of a poisoning event. The shadows indicate that this event occurred at about 7:30 AM. This is consistent with the possibility of a nerve agent attack at 7 AM on the morning of April 4 and it is also consistent with the allegation in the WHR that an attack occurred at 6:55 AM on that day.

The timing sequence of the attack is important for determining the consistency of the timelines with the allegations of a sarin release at the crater identified in the WHR.

Assuming there was an enough sarin released from the crater identified by the WHR to cause mass casualties at significant downwind distances, the sarin would have drifted downwind at a speed of 1 to 2 m/s and for several minutes before encountering the only location where mass casualties could have occurred from this particular release. The location where these mass casualties would have had to occur will be identified and described in the next section. If there was a sarin release elsewhere, mass casualties would have not occurred at this location but would have occurred somewhere else in the city.

Assuming the victims of the attack were exposed to the plume, the symptoms of sarin poisoning would have express themselves almost immediately. As such, the scene at 7:30 AM on April 4 is absolutely consistent with the possibility of a mass poisoning downwind of the sarin-release crater.

The next figure shows the earliest photograph we have been able to find of an individual standing by the sarin-release crater where the alleged release occurred. The photo was posted on April 4 and the shadow indicates the time of day was around 10:50 AM. Thus the individual was standing by the crater roughly 4 hours after the dispersal event.

If the dispersal event was from this crater, the area where this unprotected individual is standing would be toxic and this individual would be subjected to the severe and possibly fatal effects of sarin poisoning. As a result, this throws substantial suspicion on the possibility that the crater identified by WHR would be the source of the sarin release.

At the time of the sarin release, the temperature of the air was about 60°F and the sun was at an angle of only 8° relative to local horizontal. This means that liquid sarin left on the ground from the dispersal event would remain mostly unevaporated. By 11 AM, the temperature of the air had risen to 75° and the angle of the sun relative to horizontal was at 66°. Thus, one would expect that the combination of the rise in air temperature and the sun on the crater would lead to significant evaporation of liquid sarin left behind from the initial dispersal event. The air temperature and sun angle are such that the area around the crater should have been quite dangerous for anybody without protection to operate.

This is therefore an important indication that the crater was probably not a dispersal site of the sarin.

The final set of three photographs shows arriving victims seeking treatment at a hospital at some location in Khan Sheikhoun. The arrivals at the hospital are at between 9 and 10:30 AM on the day of the attack. This is perhaps late since victims were seriously exposed by 7:30 AM, but victims could have been trailing in after the initial arrival of severely affected victims. This time is considerably earlier than the time at which WHR alleges that a hospital was attacked while treating victims of the poisoning attack.

In the next section we discuss the location where mass casualties should have occurred if the sarin release occurred at the location alleged by the WHR.


[In the images below, the yellow angles indicate the length of shadows, which are then used to calculate the angle of the sun when the image was taken. The angle of the sun is used to determine the time of day. The overlaid messages ("Media is hiding...") are part of the original videos and not something Dr. Postol added.]



Identification of the Location of the Mass Casualties

The figure on the next page shows the direction of the toxic sarin plume based on the assumption that the alleged release point was the crater identified by WHR. The wind conditions at the time of the release, which would have been at about 7 AM on April 4, would have carried the plume across an empty field to an isolated Hamlet roughly 300 m downwind from the crater.

Although there were some walls and structures that would have somewhat attenuated and inhibited the movement of the aerosol cloud from the release point, the open field would be an ideal stable wind environment to transmit the remaining sarin cloud with minimal distortion and dispersal. As such, it is plausible that the sarin cloud could with the weather conditions at that time have led to mass casualties at the Hamlet.

The sarin dosage level that results in 50% of exposed victims dying is known as the LD50. The LD50 for sarin is about 100 mglmin/m3.

The dose quantity mglmin/m3 can be understood simply.

An exposure of about 100 mglmin/m3 simply means that a victim is within an environment for one full minute when there is 100 mg/m3 of sarin in the air. If the victim is instead in an environment for 10 minutes where there is a density of sarin of 10 mg/m3, they will also receive a lethal dose of 100 mglmin/m3.

Assuming 5 to 10 liters were aerosolized at the crater as alleged by the WHR, this would have resulted in an average sarin exposure at the Hamlet at 300 m range of about 10 to 20 mglmin/m3, assuming wind and temperature conditions that are near ideal for lethal exposures downwind. This estimate assumes that an individual would be outside and exposed to the sarin as the gas cloud passes by.





Since a cloud of sarin would not be uniformly mixed, there will be regions in the cloud that have much higher and lower doses than the average. In addition, as the cloud passes, sarin entering into open windows of aboveground and basement rooms would tend to become trapped inside these rooms creating a significantly longer exposure to the nerve agent, certainly leading to lethal levels if residents did not evacuate the rooms immediately. Also, since the nerve agent cloud would be passing through an area that has buildings, it will tend to flow around, over buildings, and down into open basement windows, resulting in buildups of sarin in some locations and diminished levels of sarin at other locations.

As such, the Hamlet could well have been within lethal range of the sarin exposure. However, areas further downwind from the Hamlet would be sufficiently far away that the sarin will have dispersed sufficiently that it would not be capable of causing deaths.

Thus, the Hamlet area 300 m downwind of the crater is the only area where mass casualties could occur if there had been a sarin release at the crater as alleged by the WHR! [emphasis in original]


The selected video frames collected on the next two pages show three important sets of data that indicate the following:
  1. Unprotected civilians with clothing that have logos of the Idlib Health Directorate are tampering with the contents of the crater crater that the WHR alleges was the source of the sarin release. All of the indicators point to a ruptured tube that could have contained no more than 8 to 10 liters of sarin. This is the only container shown in any videos from this scene.
     
  2. The next collection of video frames shows panoramic views of the target area taken from a drone equipped with a video camera. As can be seen in the video frames, a goat that was allegedly killed from the sarin dispersal is close to downwind of the alleged dispersal site.

    However, the Hamlet that should have experienced major casualties if the alleged dispersal site had been correctly identified is only 300 m down range, and easily reachable by simply walking over to the site.

    Yet none of the video journalists refer in any way to a mass casualty site nearby. They simply focus on a dead goat and present out of context images of a few dead birds. It is remarkable that no video journalists of the many who reported from this crater area referred in any way to the mass casualties that could only have occurred 300 m away if the attack had been executed from this crater.
     
  3. The last collection of 18 video frames is from the area where mass casualties were piled on the ground haphazardly dead or dying. Among these casualties were infants as well as men and women. This scene clearly could not have been at the location of the Hamlet as one can see that the walls surrounding the area are carved out of rock. Thus, this scene could not possibly have been at the Hamlet.

    These video frames were generated by reviewing hundreds of videos posted on YouTube plus additional videos and video frames found on Twitter.

    Among the hundreds of videos reviewed there seems to be no more than 50 to 60 seconds of actual original scenes like those laid out in the collection of 18 videos below. The vast majority of time in the videos contains the same repeated sequences of the same dead and injured infants and adults that could all be collected into less than a couple of minutes of independent scenes.

    The overwhelming evidence is that these videos repeat nothing more than redundant scenes that suggest one terrible event might have occurred. Almost none of the scenes contain any different information from the others. This raises a serious question about how much real data has been supplied that would indicate an actual significant nerve agent attack.

    What is absolutely clear from the videos is that the location of the sarin dispersal site alleged by WHR and the mass casualty site that would have had to be generated if the sarin dispersal actually occurred, are not in any way related to the scenes of victims shown in the other videos. The conclusion is obvious, the alleged attack described in WHR never occurred.




Final Comments

This abbreviated summary of the facts has been constructed entirely from basic physics, video evidence, and absolutely solid analytical methods. It demonstrates without doubt that the sarin dispersal site alleged as the source of the April 4, 2017 sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun was not a nerve agent attack site.

It also shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only mass casualty site that could have resulted from this mass attack is not in any way related to the sites that are shown in video following a poisoning event of some kind at Khan Sheikhoun.

This means that the allegedly “high confidence” White House intelligence assessment ssued on April 11 that led to the conclusion that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack is not correct. For such a report to be so egregiously in error, it could not possibly have followed the most simple and proven intelligence methodologies to determine the veracity of its findings.

Since the United States justified attacking a Syrian airfield on April 7, four days before the flawed National Security Council intelligence report was released to the Congress and the public, the conclusion that follows is that the United States took military actions without the intelligence to support its decision.

Furthermore, it is clear that the WHR was not an intelligence report.

No competent intelligence professional would have made so many false claims that are totally inconsistent with the evidence. No competent intelligence professional would have accepted the findings in the WHR analysis after reviewing the data presented herein. No competent intelligence professionals would have evaluated the crater that was tampered with in terms described in the WHR.

Although it is impossible to know from a technical assessment to determine the reasons for such an egregiously amateurish report, it cannot be ruled out that the WHR was fabricated to conceal critical information from the Congress and the public.


Appendix

Resource Materials Used To Determine Local Weather Conditions and Sun Angles Needed to Verify the above Analysis





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4 Comments:

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember when Dick "Abaddon" Cheney declared that deficits don't matter? In the Age of Trump, facts don't matter. To the average moron who is a Trump follower, the FOX headline said it, they believe it, and that settles it.

 
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At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TrumPNAC Attacks' F0S (Full 0f Sarin); 0f ALL THE NERVE!

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger Louis Proyect said...

Postol is a drooling imbecile.

https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2017/04/28/professor-theodore-postol-mit-vs-concept-time/

 

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