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Debunking Trump’s Casus Belli

Wars and rumors of wars have been dominating news cycles of late. No one should be surprised that there is a “former intelligence officer” subculture that is particularly noticeable in the Washington, DC, area. We stay in touch, communicate regularly, have lunches to discuss the “old days,” and sometimes organize to raise objections to some of the foreign follies pursued by the U.S. government. Though we often try to stay under the radar, making personal but discreet contact with sympathetic congressmen and journalists, we sometimes work together to get letters to the editor or articles placed in national publications. More rarely we appear on television or radio to discuss our own perspectives on current events.

There is an additional element that helps shape our perceptions—namely, that many of us are in contact with friends who are still in harness with the Intelligence Community or who are working as post-retirement contractors. Though current employees generally are highly cautious about what they are doing, and we are acutely aware that it is not a good idea to ask anything specific, frustration over specific governmental policies and actions is occasionally vented.

Recently, with the cruise missile attacks on a Syrian airfield, there has been a considerable loosening of the normal restraints that employees exercise regarding their duties. Even more than the invasion of Iraq, which was viewed skeptically by many in the community, the decision by President Trump to retaliate with force against Damascus has been met with dismay among many of those closest to the action in the Middle East.

Many officers have expressed frustration and anger over what has taken place—not to challenge national-security policy, which they leave up to the politicians, but because they are perceiving a tissue of lies, as in Iraq. They have expressed their concerns in very specific ways to former fellow officers and friends. For the first time, people on the inside of the process are really talking. And we have been listening, astonished at the level of anger.

[1]The insiders note that no evidence has been produced to demonstrate convincingly that Syrian forces dropped a chemical bomb on a civilian area. U.S. monitors, who had been warned by the Russians that an attack was coming, believe they saw from satellite images something close to the Russian account of events, with a bomb hitting the targeted warehouse, which then produced a cloud of gas. They also note that Syria had absolutely no motive for staging a chemical attack. In fact, it was quite the contrary, as Washington had earlier that week backed off from the U.S. position that President Bashar al-Assad should be removed from office. The so-called rebels, however, had plenty of motive. Many intelligence officials have concluded that the White House is lying and concealing what it knows.

Some employees have even expressed a desire that a whistleblower might step forward to demolish the administration’s casus belli, though none has yet offered to do so. Most of all, those on the ground are alarmed over ongoing preparations for expanding the war, including seemingly active plans to establish no-fly zones and safe havens. The uncompromising demand that al-Assad must go will lead, in their opinion, to a rapid escalation of military activity that inevitably will result in conflict with Russia.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

30 Comments (Open | Close)

30 Comments To "Debunking Trump’s Casus Belli"

#1 Comment By Wayne Lusvardi On April 23, 2017 @ 10:48 pm

Ah hem! We all know there is not a tooth fairy or a Santa Claus, that is part of growing up. And most of us, I suspect, know that some things in foreign affairs are not fully disclosed, if downright fabricated. So, wink, wink, nod, nod, we get the picture on what probably is going on with missile cruise bombing a few fighter aircraft with no loss of life on either side. At least it wasn’t a “wag the dog operation” like Clinton’s. Either Pres. Trump is going to be tested in his first 3 months in office or he can devise his own test to show his mettle. Those who want full disclosure of the tooth fairy or Santa Claus are childish or adolescent-like. They want a parent who tells them everything that is going on. They want a parent who is just and doesn’t lie about the tooth fairy or Claus. Then there are the rest of us who can guess what is going on and look the other way in the national interest. Do we really want to know, or should we know in advance, that Truman is going to drop a nuke on Nagasaki? Should Churchill have told the city of Coventry, England they were going to be bombed by the German air force or kept the secret that they had busted the German military codes? Churchill once said: “in war-time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a body guard of lies”. No, Mr. Giraldi, we don’t need to know what is going on in Syria. We just hope that the use of violence, deception and fraud further the national interest and is not used for corruption or sedition.

#2 Comment By C.L.H. Daniels On April 23, 2017 @ 11:04 pm

Well that’s terrifying.

#3 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 24, 2017 @ 12:21 am

God bless you, Philip, and all the other current and former Intelligence Community men and women who fight back against the lies.

#4 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On April 24, 2017 @ 3:45 am

It is particularly distressing that the press corps is so easily led by an account that makes so little sense. There must be a few old timers at the networks who know enough about how weapons work to have passed along a note of caution. Apparently, the temptation to go with the prescribed narrative was just too great.

#5 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 24, 2017 @ 7:03 am

Our bipartisan warmongers, allegiant to munitions lobbyists, haven’t given much leeway to an administration they perceived as contrary to their paymasters’ interests in permanent warfare revenue streams.

One politician of a bygone era referred to the business of America, to be engaged in business. The prime export of American business is now war.

In Warshington, you go along to get along. The reversal of fortune of a Trump despised who decried war as waste, to the man universally praised by corporate owned media for profligate bomb spending, is a case in point.

#6 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 24, 2017 @ 10:25 am

Wayne Lusvardi (10:48 p.m.): “We get the picture on what probably is going on with missile cruise bombing a few fighter aircraft…the rest of us who can guess what is going on and look the other way in the national interest…We don’t need to know what is going on in Syria. We just hope that the use of violence, deception and fraud further the national interest and is not used for corruption or sedition.”

Sic!

#7 Comment By WorkingClass On April 24, 2017 @ 11:21 am

The “intelligence community” (spooks) are in the service of evil. And you are telling me that some are troubled by conscience? Cry me a river.

#8 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 24, 2017 @ 12:18 pm

“The uncompromising demand that al-Assad must go will lead, in their opinion, to a rapid escalation of military activity that inevitably will result in conflict with Russia.”

Utterly foolish and incomplete contradiction to my support for the current exec. I care not what the same clan who advanced invading Iraq cheer —

The Syria missile attack and advocacy that Pres Assad must go, wrong beyond measure.

#9 Comment By Donald On April 24, 2017 @ 12:18 pm

Wayne, I’m glad you are fine with the violence, deception and fraud and are certain it is all conducted in the national interest. No doubt the people who died in Vietnam and Iraq fully agree with your viewpoint, which must be right because you see it is the one that mature adults must take as opposed to childish adolescents. That pretty much settled it for me. I never argue with mature adults.

#10 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 24, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

“No, Mr. Giraldi, we don’t need to know what is going on in Syria. We just hope that the use of violence, deception and fraud further the national interest and is not used for corruption or sedition.”

I am not an advocate for absolute honesty. In other words, one need be told the truth all the time for all things. However, that is far different from engaging i n falsehood. I have to disagree with this. In order to understand policy, the truth is crucial.

We are in Syria in the first place in violation of our code of ethics and philosophy as well as international law. The same holds for Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan (my noted caveats and qualifiers here), similar concerns regarding the Ukraine. Whether or not genocide was actually taking pace in Bosnia was crucial to forming a consistent ethical policy.

No the truth in regards to policy formulation is mandatory. I love Sir Winston Churchill, but he was wrong on the bombing and other decisions made to protect the code. It was entirely possible to do so without risk of revealing they had the data beforehand.

The truth is that states are entitled to sovereignty and violations of that sovereignty demand extraordinary violations. That demands the truth be known about what is happening and thus far — we remain in violation of our own standards, and that of the international community.

All which have gradually undermined the country’s national interest at multiple levels.

#11 Comment By Skeptic On April 24, 2017 @ 1:08 pm

At least the ugliness of Lusvardi’s position is honest. He makes no attempt even at cloaking it in fine-sounding phrases.

Meanwhile, thank you, Mr. Giraldi, for staying focused on this issue. Our nuclear armed adversary (needless adversary) knows we are lying about Syria. Which has brought about the disappearance of what little trust remained. And is why even liberal Prime Minister Medvedev says the relationship with the U.S. is completely destroyed. But our Mayberry Machiavellis think telling ever-more blatant lies while playing games of chicken with Russia is sophisticated and smart. God help us.

#12 Comment By PAXNOW On April 24, 2017 @ 1:25 pm

We were at war (declared) with Germany and Japan. Germany staged a false flag operation to invade Poland (scattered Polish dead dressed as Germans around a radio station to look like Poland attacked first). This deception may have furthered Hitler’s goals (over 60 million dead) but it cost the world plenty. We are not at war with Syria. Had Churchill warned Coventry he would have given up Enigma and all the good that its possession gave him. England was on its heels at the time. We are not. Silly example. Some argue that Japan offered the same peace terms, well before the dropping of the A bombs, as we got after these attacks. Thank goodness for people like Mr. Giraldi that have not partaken of the political KoolAid.

#13 Comment By PJ London On April 24, 2017 @ 1:29 pm

I commented the day after the strike.

PJ London AGPhillbin 14 days ago

‘And last week after Syria:
“Only a total cretin would believe that Assad and Syria used Chemical weapons, especially the idea that you would drop two different chemical weapons in a single bomb.
Trump is not a cretin so therefore he knows that he is lying.
Goodbye world, once he starts, he will not be able to contain it.
He has been taken over by the military as the only way to handle the CIA and the corporations.
My guess is was told by the military, “We are going to do it , get on board or get out.”
The thing is that every other leader and non-cretin in the world knows that he is lying too.
Friedrich Nietzsche — ‘I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.’

What is distressing is that there is no attempt to be honest or believable. It is now all smoke and mirrors, and for those who see behind the curtain, they just don’t care.
It is in your face ‘So what are you going to do about it.’
We, the humans, have lost.

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On April 24, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

“Friedrich Nietzsche — ‘I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.’

What is distressing is that there is no attempt to be honest or believable. It is now all smoke and mirrors, and for those who see behind the curtain, they just don’t care.”

I certainly have my issues with off track we are. But I am not quite that far gone. I think the fact that Mr Trump was elected suggests that the country will respond to deviations – eventually.

Further, I am unconvinced that executive Trump lied as much as he was led to. He just doesn’t know. Being an effective CEO is dependent on having people that can be trusted.

Whether its chemical weapon or the location of fleet. And since he is completely new to the post he is even more dependent that one might normally be. That’s why I remain suspicious of his choices for top depts. These are skilled, talented people – sure. But they hold views that he clearly opposed.

Depending on them is hard to imagine. So I have no issues that Mr Trump is not lying. He just doesn’t know and as with every supervisor relies on information from his staff. If you trust your staff, it’s a safe bet that you are going to trust the information provided. He lacks that, “I have been burned by you folks before,” skepticism that is required in government and causes one to pause before acting.

But these are choices he made.

#15 Comment By A. G. Phillbin On April 24, 2017 @ 3:29 pm

@PJ London,

I’m not sure how my name (along with yours) got included in the quote above, but I had nothing to do with writing it. it does express sentiments that I mostly agree with, although I think Trump was signaling his surrender to the intelligence community rather than to the military — this was his way of getting all the leaks and rumors about Russia to stop. I also would have expressed those sentiments somewhat differently.

#16 Comment By Christopher Taylor On April 24, 2017 @ 5:55 pm

Wayne Lusvardi: “We just hope that the use of violence, deception and fraud further the national interest and is not used for corruption or sedition.”

Are you serious? An informed public is the only way a democratic-republic can survive. If we bury our heads in the sand, there will be corruption (and possibly sedition).

Should Truman have informed people of the possession of a weapon that could incinerate hundreds of thousands of non-combatants and allow judgment of the decision to use it? I think he should have trusted the American people.

Should Churchill have evacuated Coventry (if indeed he did know about the attack)? I believe so.

But not you. You wish to be comforted by your government and trust your leaders. This is the path to destruction.

I did notice how you took a shot at “Clinton” and then quickly showed deference to “Pres. Trump.” That is what outed you as fringe-kook.

#17 Comment By Mark On April 24, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

I agree there has been no hard evidence shared, but that applies to both sides. Why hasn’t Russia identified the warehouse that was hit?

#18 Comment By jk On April 24, 2017 @ 10:24 pm

The current parallels to Iraq war and its (initial) MSM cheerleaders were the original peddlers of Fake News.

#19 Comment By Ron Johnson On April 25, 2017 @ 6:22 am

Wayne Lusvardi: It is precisely because we are not children and they are not our parents that we MUST know what they are doing.

#20 Comment By Mark Thomason On April 25, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

Trump got elected by his intense focus on media coverage, sensitive to it and also manipulating it.

The attack on Syria served his purposes. He became “Presidential” and rallied support from those who had been tearing at him.

That is all the reason he needs. He never demonstrated any concern for any larger issues, just perception. There is no reason to think that changed when he won.

That also means that we got this attack because the rest of Washington wanted this attack. Our media, our Democratic opposition, the Resistance to Trump, all wanted this attack.

It was not just Trump. They all need to own what they’ve done.

That is especially important because they are doing so much more of the same, with attacks on Putin and Russia Is Coming.

#21 Comment By Michael Kenny On April 25, 2017 @ 12:16 pm

What Mr Giraldi calls the “Russian account of events” was first presented on another site precisely by “former intelligence officers”. It certainly is a plausible scenario but it very definitely does not exonerate the Syrians or the Russians, nor does it demolish Trump’s causus belli. Quite the contrary indeed. It amounts to a plea of guilty. In that version, the Syrians admit that they caused the gas to be released. Logically, if Syrian intelligence was able to identify the building as a target, shouldn’t they also have been able to determine what was inside it and that, therefore, an air attack would provoke a catastrophe? The intelligence blunder may well have been the fault of the ever-inefficient Russians but can’t you just imagine the howls of protest there would be if the US committed such a blunder? When Putin or one of his pals does it, it’s all just a regrettable but excusable mistake! Double standards!

#22 Comment By Marko On April 25, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

“Some employees have even expressed a desire that a whistleblower might step forward to demolish the administration’s casus belli, though none has yet offered to do so. ”

I can hear them now : “You do it. / No , you do it. / I can’t , I’ve got a wife and kids to support. You do it. / Well , I’ve got a cat , so I can’t do it. You do it. /…….

Why doesn’t everyone in the current IC who wants the truth revealed join forces with their counterparts on the outside (like VIPS) and make a joint statement , one that doesn’t release any specific intelligence that could be used to prosecute any particular individual.

They could simply state ” Our government is lying to the public–using lies of commission and omission–about the intelligence surrounding the recent gas “attack” in Syria.”

Nobody will get prosecuted , though some may find their career trajectories altered a bit. Even then , the courts might offer those who can prove they’ve been subjected to such discrimination a payoff that makes the effort more than worthwhile. Another payoff :Being able to say you did the right thing instead of being a willing participant in the cover-up of these lies.

Waiting for one brave whistleblower to step forward could be a long wait , too long. There’s safety in numbers. Instead of ” You do it. ” , say : ” Let’s all do it. “.

#23 Comment By Marko On April 25, 2017 @ 8:13 pm

….. if Syrian intelligence was able to identify the building as a target, shouldn’t they also have been able to determine what was inside it and that, therefore, an air attack would provoke a catastrophe?… can’t you just imagine the howls of protest there would be if the US committed such a blunder? When Putin or one of his pals does it, it’s all just a regrettable but excusable mistake! Double standards! ”

If you do a bit of research you’ll find that the U.S. has knowingly bombed suspected CW sites in the past , several times in fact. Bill Clinton’s wag-the-dog moment is one of the more memorable examples.

#24 Comment By Felonious Punk On April 26, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

And some of us just wanted to kill our parents and be done with it.

#25 Comment By Anonymous On April 27, 2017 @ 11:15 am

actually, while I’m working class and was opposed to the war on Iraq, I am grateful for these people dissenting on this policy! I knew from the first that this was a “manufactured event”. The number of educated people in the Midwest where I live who believe anything CNN says frightens me, so it always helps if former intelligence professionals stand for the truth.

#26 Comment By MEOW On April 27, 2017 @ 3:29 pm

[2] Need anymore be said

#27 Comment By Keith Harbaugh On April 28, 2017 @ 4:11 pm

We seem to have a situation where
secrets putting Trump on the defensive
get leaked vociferously
(a leak from the top?),
while information casting doubt on the guilt of the Syrian government
simply does not appear, or is labeled as a “conspiracy theory”
[3]

Is the true motto of the New York Times
not
“All the news that’s fit to print.”
but rather
“All the leaks that fit our agenda.”?

#28 Comment By JB Say On April 28, 2017 @ 5:52 pm

I think those calling the shots have something on Trump. Maybe photos of his trips to Little St James or something along those lines. He has been compromised, which would explain alot. Apparently now he’s even embracing globalism.

#29 Comment By Elizabeth On April 30, 2017 @ 7:04 pm

God bless you, Phil, still out here fighting the good fight.

Thank God our intel community is upset over this, as any American would be if they knew the truth.

I hope someone steps forward before it’s too late.

#30 Comment By Jett Rucker On May 7, 2017 @ 10:01 am

In the many times Trump has violated his own campaign promises, I am alternately relieved and terrified.

I’m getting whiplash, but if he KEPT ALL of his campaign promises, I might be even worse off.

These are parlous times.