Just Before the Strike, Politifact Retracted ‘Mostly True’ Ruling on No Chemical Weapons in Syria
The United States, under the direction of President Donald Trump, attacked Syria directly for the first time since the Obama administration decided it was time for a regime change in Syria. Fifty-nine cruise missiles were used to target an airfield in the Syrian Idlib Province the U.S. says was used to stage a chemical weapons attack against innocent Syrian men, women, and children. While there appears to be evidence a chemical attack took place, there are conflicting reports as to who is responsible. Now, those organizations who declared chemical weapons were removed from Syria back in 2014, are retracting their stories.
Politifact retracted a story it published in 2014 titled, “Kerry: We got ‘100 percent’ of chemical weapons out of Syria.” John Kerry, then Secretary of State, told NBC’s Meet The Press on July 20th, 2014, “we struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”
Upon learning of Kerry’s claim, Politifact investigated, even asking the State Department for more information. The department pointed Politifact to Ahmet Üzümcü, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, who said in a statement, “The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura.” Fast-forward three years, and we now know that statement cannot possibly still be true — or at least not very helpful to the official narrative. After it was alleged that Bashar al Asad’s government used chemical weapons against innocents this week, Politifact withdrew its article from its site.
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At the time the article was originally published, Politifact made the following ruling, calling the notion all chemical weapons were removed from Syria as “mostly true.” “Kerry said all of Syria’s chemical weapons had been removed. The UN body in charge said that the last of Syria’s declared chemical weapons left the country in late June. There remain, however, some discrepancies in the details of the weapons the Syrians had acknowledged possessing, and some additional work is needed. With that qualification, we rate the claim Mostly True,” wrote Politifact.
The fact-checking organization determined there were at least 12 sites which had been declared as chemical weapons facilities but which had not been inspected. So, it may come as a surprise to many why the organization would even label the Kerry claim as “mostly true” in the first place. Why not simply declare it “false” and force the Obama administration to own up to the misleading comments?
The United Nations Security Council was up in arms this week and called an emergency meeting. While some members like the UK expressed solidarity with Trump’s unilateral decision to go it alone and attack Syria, others disagreed. The Syrian representative called the attacks a “barbaric, flagrant act of aggression” which violated both the United Nations Charter and international law.
Assad emphatically denied the Government of Syria possessed chemical weapons and said they would never use them under any conditions. He pointed the finger of blame at the American-funded terrorists and said they would capitalize on successfully deceiving the world into believing the Syrian government gassed its own people. “This aggression will surely send an erroneous message to the terrorist groups, emboldening them to use more chemical weapons in the future.” He, reportedly “expressed regret that history had come ‘full circle’, with the United States once again using fabricated evidence to justify its actions and to spread hegemony around the world.”