WMR’s sources inside the Washington Beltway report that President Obama relied solely on signals intelligence (SIGINT) provided by Israel’s version of the U.S. National Security Agency, Unit 8200, to conclude that Syria’s government ordered the August 21 chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
Unit 8200 claimed it had intercepted a communication from a Syrian army unit operating near Ghouta on August 21. The Israelis concluded from the intercept that Syria’s army carried out the chemical attack on Ghouta, although there has been no independent confirmation fromMedecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) or the UN weapons inspection team as to who carried out the attack and even what type of chenical weapons were used.
Obama claims that his pursuit of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is intended to safeguard NSA’s most closely-guarded secrets that are used to combat terrorism. However, Obama, in his decision to accept the Israeli SIGINT as prima facie evidence of a Syrian chemical attack on civilians, has bypassed NSA’s own SIGINT product, which is flowing into the joint NSA/British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) interception facility in Cyprus, to push the notion that Syrian President Bashar al Assad carried out the attack. NSA’s and GCHQ’s intelligence do not conclusively prove Syrian government involvement.
The Unit 8200 intelligence was exclusively passed by the Israelis to the Obama administration, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. WMR has also learned that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, were opposed to taking military action against Syria based only on Israeli SIGINT. However, after Obama made his decision after deferring to National Security Adviser Susan Rice, UN ambassador Samantha Power, and political adviser Valerie Jarrett, both Hagel and Dempsey began plans on August 23 to carry out a unilateral military strike on Syria without the invocation of the War Powers Act or with the authorization of the UN Security Council.
Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that U.S. forces would not target any Russian interests in Syria and that Russia tacitly agreed not to escalate the situation following a U.S. strike on Syrian targets.