The state department’s merry pranksters

At first the story was that the Syrian government has dropped hallucinogens on insurgents.

But now it seems that U.S. State Department official might have been the ones tripping, or at least imagining things.  Countering a story appearing earlier this week in Foreign Policy about the


mysterious properties of a substance called “Agent 15,” American officials now say the whole thing was a bit of an exaggeration. Or put in more official language, the report ”did not accurately convey the anecdotal information that we had received from a third party regarding an alleged incident in Syria.” As DangerRoom quoted the State Department,

“’At the time we looked into the allegations that were made and the information that we had received, and we found no credible evidence to corroborate or to confirm that chemical weapons were used,’ she added.
That’s a major deal, because the international community has repeatedly told the Assad Regime in Syria that the use of chemical weapons is beyond unacceptable. The White House issued a statement along similar lines.

“U.S. officials contacted by Danger Room said the information in the cable originated from a contractor hired by the State Department to monitor opposition media coming from Syria. After the attack in Homs, rebel activists posted gut-wrenching videos to YouTube of gasping victims crying out in agony. In the clips, opposition figures claimed that they had been hit with a poison gas — maybe a nerve agent, maybe a hallucinogen.

“American experts could find little in the videos that corroborated either chemical weapons story. (For one thing, hallucinogens and nerve agents have almost opposite symptoms and treatment regimes.) In the hours after the attack, U.S. officials expressed skepticism about the rebel claims. The bit about Agent 15 seemed particularly odd; while the U.S. military experimented on its own troops with hallucinogens, there was yet to be a proven case of the the agent being used in anger on the battlefield. Nevertheless, according to CNN, the State Department did ask “a U.S. partner” to follow up, interviewing Syrian doctors and chemical weapons specialists.”


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