Hack of U.S. Army Colonel Spawns Online Syria War Conspiracy

Rumors of war crimes now speed around the globe at the speed of light

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In the byte-and-pixel hall of mirrors that is the Internet, rumors are easy to start and impossible to stop. The latest: that the U.S. Army may have played a key role in the massacre of some 1,400 Syrians, including more than 400 children, in that chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus Aug. 21.

The Army confirmed Thursday morning that the email account of a recently-retired Army intelligence colonel was hacked. Army officials believe the hacker(s) involved wrote the emails that have triggered reports of U.S. involvement. “But if you read the emails, you can tell they weren’t written by an O-6 [colonel] working in G-2 {intelligence],” one says. “They look like they were written by a third-grader.” The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command began looking into the case Wednesday.

Regardless of how much smoke has been spread about an alleged U.S. role in the chemical-weapons attack, Pentagon officials insist there is no fire. “It’s beyond preposterous to suggest that the United States had anything to do with what was, in fact, the Syrian regime’s brutal deployment of chemical weapons on its own innocent civilians,” Pentagon spokesman George Little says.

But with the right attitude, lingo, data, anonymous online drop-boxes, disclaimers, names and emails — some of which might even be real — silicon sorcerers can spin a tale that can sound plausible to outsiders and those eager to believe.

This post seems to be the source of the latest tall tale now bouncing around the Internet:

I’ve hacked colonel Anthony Jamie MacDonald mail he is intelligence US Army Staff boss. First I hacked his Link3dIn account and got access to his mail through it then.

Among mail Mayhem like Amazon mails I’ve found his correspondence with his colleague Eugene Furst. He congratulates Col. with success and gives a link to the Washington Post publication about chemical attack in Syria on August 21. Furst also mentions it was “well staged”. Holy shit. I was shocked my eyes refused to believe it. Bloody bastards they “staged” a chemical attack.

Then a friend of Anthony MacDonald’s wife Jennifer writes she was shocked seeing on TV the children died after chemical attack in Syria. Jennifer answers she saw the story but Tony calm her down saying children were alive and the scene was staged.

This kind of stuff is catnip for conspiracy buffs — Anthony MacDonald does, in fact, exist (he retired in July from the Army, where he worked in intelligence) and his purported emails have been showing up in recent days on websites of legitimate media like the Telegraph newspaper in Britain:

The media has spread new proofs of the U.S. intelligence involvement to chemical attack near Damascus. Hacker got access to U.S. intelligence correspondence and published U.S. Army Col. ANTHONY J. MACDONALD’s mail. Macdonald is General Staff Director, Operations and Plans Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence the Army Staff. It’s about chemical attack in Syria.

The post, like all conspiracy theories, polarizes readers:

“The fakery here is so obviously bad as to make me wonder if it’s done by the US to discredit the Syrians,” says one.

“The increasing involvement of the administration in the middle east post the arab spring gives creditability to this story,” counters another.

Of course, the Telegraph post appears to be — tough to be too certain in this realm — just an outside poster replicating a post from a website called Godlike Productions, dedicated to “UFOs, Conspiracy Theorists [and the] Lunatic Fringe,” and not put there by anyone from the newspaper. But to conspiracy buffs, it now carries the paper’s imprimatur.

The Big Lie — Adolf Hitler’s term — can almost seem like The Truth if repeated often enough. And this tale is spreading:

“While the U.S is on the verge of attacking Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons on its people, a hacker going with the handle of ‘€Wagn3r’ has came forward with bunch of email conversations between U.S military officials calling the chemical attack a `staged operation’,” reports one website.

“A hacker by the name of €Wagn3r claims to have hacked approximately 20 members of the Pentagon and some of their spouses. In their emails US Colonels utilize a high number of military acronyms which, when looked, up point to a conversation about intelligence budgets and how to fund operations. The correspondence indicates the US government was the most probable sponsor of the latest chemical attack in Syrian Ghouta,” says another.

“The new evidence seem to confirm that the U.S. military intelligence was involved in the recent chemical attack in suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus (August 21). According to the report, a hacker has managed it to get access to the U.S. intelligence correspondence as well as to private emails of the General Staff Director, Operations and Plans Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence the US Army Staff, Col. Anthony J. MacDonald. The leak was published and it seems that Houston the US military intelligence has a problem now,” a third reads.

Of course, skeptics note there are gaps in these theories big enough to fly a cruise missile through. But the key one is this: it doesn’t pass the “human nature” test. Given the scrambling and rollbacks, the unred lines and dented credibility the Obama Administration has exhibited over the past two weeks, why would it want such an attack to occur? Can anyone possibly believe that the U.S. is in a better place internationally now than it was Aug. 20? Were this rumor to be true, Obama would be subject to impeachment. The U.S. military officers involved would be facing life in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., if not capital punishment.

Yet the revelations of NSA contractor Edward Snowden buttress the sense that the U.S. government is all-knowing and can do anything. That, of course, is why the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq went so swimmingly, with so little cost in blood or treasure. It’s plain that someone with some degree of technical sophistication is behind this latest example of Internet trouble-making. The so-called Syrian Electronic Army, a mysterious pro-Assad outfit that has been reportedly involved in all kinds of mischief, perhaps with Iranian help, is a key suspect.

20 comments
ander6693
ander6693

Why would Assad use chemical weapons when he is winning the war and the rebels are weakening? Especially when Obama openly stated that we will attack if he does? It just doesn't add up! Assad is not stupid, his family has been in power for like 60 years. This was a setup by the US, Israel or the rebels.

ander6693
ander6693

Oh please. Our politicians would do this in a heartbeat if it meant a couple hundred grand in the bank or 4 more years. Most of them would not even hesitate. Everything they say is an act, that is what people don't realize. It is all about MONEY. That's why they are there.

glennra3
glennra3

Wacko rumors are going to be believed by wacko folks. Luckily those same folks have the attention span of Miley Cyrus' career. Once they find a new cat video on YouTube they will forget the whole thing.

JimSmith1
JimSmith1

POLL:  MAJORITY OF AMERICANS APPROVE OF SENDING CONGRESS TO SYRIA DURING BOMB & MISSILE ATTACKS

More than 90%% of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the US Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.

I believe it is in the best interest of the US, and the global community as a whole, to move forward with the deployment of all US congressional leaders to Syria immediately,” respondent Carol Abare, 50, said in the nationwide telephone survey, echoing the thoughts of an estimated 9 in 10 Americans who said they “strongly support” any plan of action that involves putting the US House and Senate on the ground in the war-torn Middle Eastern state. “With violence intensifying every day, now is absolutely the right moment—the perfect moment, really—for the US to send our legislators to the region.”

In fact, 91% of those surveyed agreed that the active use of sarin gas attacks by the Syrian government would, if anything, only increase poll respondents’ desire to send Congress to Syria.

Public opinion was essentially unchanged when survey respondents were asked about a broader range of attacks, with more than 79% of Americans saying they would strongly support sending Congress to Syria in cases of bomb and missile attacks, 78% supporting intervention in cases of kidnappings and executions, and 75% saying representatives should be deployed in cases where government forces were found to have used torture. (The Onion)

http://www.theonion.com/articles/poll-majority-of-americans-approve-of-sending-cong,33752/?ref=auto

united_we_stand
united_we_stand

It seems obvious this operation was conducted by US intelligence for the simple reason that it fits US interests, and Assad is just as likely to commit suicide as he would be to cross Obama's red line and use chemical weapons for no perceivable benefit. Americans understand the powers that be want to remake the middle east, possibly at Israels request and/or to control the oil. Republicans voted for George W over McCain because Bush said 'no nation building'. He promised not to go take over middle east nations, then he happily did. Democrats voted for Obama over Hilary because he was billed as mr peaceful, so much so that he got a nobel prize. But again like Bush, Obama is getting involved anyway, in Tunesia, Lybia, Egypt, and Syria while adding Pakistan to the list of the other 2 middle east nations we are actively conducting wars in. Our government does these things 'in our interests' but the reasons are undisclosed under national security. This means we Americans have no idea to what extent these operations have to do with Israel, or with oil resources, or with Islam, or with manifest destiny, or climate change, or a one world government, or corporate bottom lines, or what. That doesn't stop some Americans like the writer of this article to accuse those who speculate on the motives behind war as being crackpots who believe in aliens. Americans do not get answers if we ask legitimate questions like why do we always fund al queda, and other islamic extremists, such as saudi whabbism? (Kerry just admitted 25% of the syrian rebels we are arming are al queda or other islamic extremists) We are in the dark so I feel its perfectly legitimate to speculate on our governments motives regarding our covert and overt actions.

TomHes
TomHes

This 'evidence' of US involvement seems just as solid as the 'evidence' of Assad's involvement: all are based on communication which can be tricked. This argument not to believe communication as it may falsified should also be used to question the evidence that John Kerry provided, primarily as the US has a history of falsifying evidence to go to war (WMD in Iraq, and the '100,000s dead' in Kosovo).

KieroTangas
KieroTangas

Cute opening, "byte-and-pixel hall of mirrors that is the Internet", but the Telegraph broke the story three days ago and they didn't need Getty Images to help them spin their pitch.

And what does your policy wonk mean when he says “but if you read the emails, you can tell they weren’t written by an O-6 working in G-2, they look like they were written by a third-grader”? Either third-graders have better grammar and spelling than Army colonels or the byte-and-pixel pirates are more illiterate than military intelligence? Either way, Time comes off looking very biased.

Yes, Syria will be a fake war just like all the other fake wars the US gets itself into. Little wonder why it has become the most hated empire in recorded history. Please, serve your readers instead of your commercial masters, and do not promote this nonsense.

reverb256
reverb256

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EARTH, WE ARE ONE

hopeinYah
hopeinYah

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Jmicro89
Jmicro89

@TIME what is this? Season 5 of ‘24’? Walt Cummings is dead!

Leyaquette
Leyaquette

@TIME Sir, Y d POTUS n Congress r wasting their precious time in deliberating d Syrian CWs when actually its US' own hatchet job, real shame

iamrichardray
iamrichardray

@TIME This headline definitely reads like you're calling the colonel a hack. Not that his email was compromised.

OngsEgg
OngsEgg

@frater_isla Just found it coincidental since I just read your Godlike article last night.