Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

NYT Backs Off Its Syria-Sarin Analysis

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 30, 2013

Thanks to The Consortium for alerting us to this instance of the Gray Lady tacitly (albeit reluctantly) admitting a grave error — namely, that its claims in a September 17, 2013 article that Syria’s Assad régime used sarin gas against its own people didn’t hold up to hard scrutiny:

…the authors [of the new, debunking report] said that their findings could help pinpoint accountability for the most lethal chemical warfare attack in decades, but that they also raised questions about the American government’s claims about the locations of launching points, and the technical intelligence behind them. … The analysis could also lead to calls for more transparency from the White House, as Dr. Postol [one of the new report’s authors] said it undermined the Obama administration’s assertions about the rockets’ launch points.”

To wit:

“The dimensions of the inserted rocket motor very closely match the dimensions in the 9M22-U artillery rocket,” Dr. Postol wrote in an email on Thursday. “If the inserted motor is the same as the standard 9M22-U motor, then the maximum range of the munition would be no more than three kilometers, and likely less.”

That would be less than the ranges of more than nine kilometers calculated separately by The New York Times and Human Rights Watch in mid-September, after the United States had dropped its push for a military strike. Those estimates had been based in part on connecting reported compass headings for two rockets cited in the United Nations’ initial report on the attacks.

The published range for a 9M22-U rocket is about 20 kilometers, or 12.4 miles. But the Syrian rockets carried a bulky and apparently flat-nosed warhead — Dr. Postol called it “a soup can” — whose range would have been undermined by its large mass and by drag, the authors said.

Depending on the motors propelling different Grad models, the projected maximum ranges can vary from 2.5 to 3.5 kilometers, or 1.5 to 2.2 miles, Dr. Postol and Mr. Lloyd said.

The longer estimates seem unlikely, Dr. Postol said, because as a sarin-filled rocket was pushed to greater air speeds by a more powerful motor, the stresses created by its non-aerodynamic shape could cause it to tumble or break apart.

Or, as The Consortium‘s Robert Parry says:

In other words, the much-ballyhooed “vector analysis” had collapsed under scrutiny, knocking the legs out from under Official Washington’s certainty that the Syrian government carried out the Aug. 21 attack which may have killed several hundred civilians including many children.

Bandar Bush is not pleased, I suspect.

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