FAIR serves up more lies on Syria
"Leftist" (sic) shilling for fascist dictator Bashar Assad reaches new levels of deception in an entry from one Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), perversely entitled "Down the Memory Hole: NYT Erases CIA's Efforts to Overthrow Syria's Government." The chutzpah of invoking Orwell in his title is downright Orwellian, as his distortions reveal the very name "Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting" to be pure doublethink. Wedded to the persistent pseudo-left hallucination of a US campaign to destabilize Assad, Johnson gripes: "This past week, two pieces—one in the New York Times detailing the 'finger pointing' over Obama's 'failed' Syria policy, and a Vox 'explainer' of the Syrian civil war—...didn't just omit the fact that the CIA has been arming, training and funding rebels since 2012, they heavily implied they had never done so." So what is Johnson's evidence that the CIA has been doing this? In defense of his claim, he links to articles in (funny) the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and the Washington Post. But if you bother actually click on the links (perish the thought), you'll find that none of them quite back up Johnson's assertions...
The Times story, from March 24, 2013, says nothing about the US "training" or "funding" the rebels—only a "secret airlift of arms and equipment." If this support was ever "secret," it wasn't for very long. The very next month, John Kerry was openly boasting of US support for the Syrian rebels at an Istanbul meeting—although it is questionable how much of the promised aid actually reached the rebels. And by the end of 2013, Kerry had announced a cut-off of "non-lethal" aid to the FSA. National Security Advisor Susan Rice later stated that "lethal aid" had continued—but emphasized that it was in the interests of "counterterrorism"; that is, fighting ISIS, not Assad. (Haaretz, June 7, 2014)
The Guardian story (March 8, 2013) says nothing about the CIA, only "Western" training of Syrian rebels in Jordan. Actually read the story (perish the thought) and it turns out to be the British and the French, and the whole thing is based on anonymous sources. The only indirect reference to the CIA is the following line: "A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: 'It's the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we're not talking about a huge operation.'"
The story from Der Spiegel (the actual link is to a March 10, 2013 Reuters story citing Der Spiegel) is essentially a recapitulation of The Guardian's claims, and concludes: "The reports could not be independently verified."
The Washington Post story (June 12, 2015) actually reports that Congress was moving to cut CIA aid to the rebels. Again citing unnamed or fuzzy sources, the account claims the CIA has spent around $1 billion over the past "several years" to arm and train Syrian rebels—but emphasizes again that the primary enemy is ISIS, not Assad.
So of Johnson's four sources, it is only the last that vaguely backs up his claim. And he leaves out two salient facts: that the aid is primarily directed against the jihadists who Assad is also fighting, not Assad; and that it is coming to an end.
Johnson does mention the far less ambitious but better publicized Pentagon program to train Syrian rebels, admitting it has been an "abysmal failure." He doesn't mention (as we have) that the fighters trained under this program amount to a whopping 54—of whom only 37 were still actually in combat last time we checked back in August. Nor does he mention (as we have) that rebels have refused to participate in the training program because of the Pentagon's insistence that they do not use their training to fight Assad—only ISIS.
After this subterfuge, Johnson goes on to gripe that the Sept. 13 New York Times story fails to mention the CIA training program. Distortions, eh? Cast the beam from thine own eye, Adam.
He closes with the usual sickening bogus neutrality:
As the military build-up and posturing in Syria between Russia and the United States escalates, policy makers and influencers on this side of the Atlantic are urgently trying to portray the West's involvement in Syria as either nonexistent or marked by good-faith incompetence. By whitewashing the West's clandestine involvement in Syria, the media not only portrays [sic] Russia as the sole contributor to hostilities, it absolves Europe and the United States of their own guilt in helping create a refugee crisis and fuel a civil war that has devastated so many for so long.
Oh really, Johnson? How many of the refugees are fleeing the FSA, as opposed to Assad's relentless aerial bombadment and ISIS sectarian cleansing? A case can be made that it is the West's failure to meaningfully support the rebels—without condescending conditions that they don't fight Assad—that has led to the disaster in Syria. The notion that "the West" is to blame for the refugees is literally echoing Assad's propaganda. See CNN Sept. 16 ("Syria's Bashar al-Assad: West is to blame for refugee crisis").
In fact, even ISIS is a distant second to Assad as the aggressor the refugees are fleeing. An account based on refugee interviews on the German website Qantara quotes one refugee in its headline: "Stop Assad's bombs, then we'll go back." A salient passage:
Indeed, the key reason for displacement in Syria is not IS, but Assad. The regime's air force is killing at least seven times as many people as IS. This "terror from the air", as it is referred to by civil groups, is destroying all those areas controlled by rebels—both moderate and Islamist. The aid organisation Doctors Without Borders reported that in August "heavy bombardments were carried out on 20 consecutive days in besieged Eastern Ghouta" where it is supporting 12 provisional underground clinics... One in every four victims—whether dead or injured—was a child under the age of five.
But you would get no sense of that from the ironically named Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. This is the same FAIR, recall, that was eager to jump on utterly dubious claims that the rebels and not the Assad regime were behind the Ghouta chemical attack. Now it is plugging the utterly fictional notion of a "CIA Effort to Overthrow Syria's Government." Bunk. On the contrary, the US is tilting to Assad, viewing ISIS as the greater and common enemy. This is a betrayal of the Syrian revolution, which is ultimately even counter-productive to the aim of fighting ISIS. Telling the secular and pro-democratic forces they must accept rule under one tyrant is hardly conducive to a strong resistance against a rival gang of fascists.
Why does the increasingly reactionary FAIR continue to have any legitimacy whatsoever?