The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) – U.S. government officials saw as early as November hundreds of images of alleged mass torture and killings of detainees held by the Syrian regime, the State Department said.

But President Barack Obama’s administration at the time decided against making public a report alleging the large-scale torture and murder of 11,000 detainees by Damascus, out of concern for the safety of the source and in order to identify the documents, deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

The report, finally released Monday, was put together by a British law firm and commissioned by Qatar, which backs the Syrian rebels.

Based on forensic analysis of part of 55,000 digital images smuggled out of Syria by a defector who said he served as a police photographer, it points to “clear evidence” of the starvation, strangulation and beating of detainees in Syrian prisons.

“We learned of the existence of this database of photos in November. We were shown some of the sample images of them, we the United States government,” Harf told reporters.

“But out of concern for the safety of the source who brought us the photos, and his family, we did not publicize the existence of the database at that time.”

The photos in the report are gruesome, showing emaciated and seriously injured detainees, and the United States has backed the Syrian opposition in calling for an international inquiry into the allegations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said they “raised questions that require an answer.”

Syria denies torturing detainees, and the nation’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, told reporters during a landmark peace conference in Montreux, Switzerland, that the photos had been faked in Kuwait.

“We have been working on authenticating them,” Harf said of the photos. “They are completely in line with everything else we’ve seen from the Assad regime.”

She said that beyond the latest report, Washington had a “huge amount of evidence that the Assad regime has brutalized its people, including in prisons… that he has committed war crimes.”

AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Rep. Ted Budd, left, and Cheri Beasley

On Tuesday, North Carolina Republicans selected Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), a far-right extremist who has pushed false claims about the 2020 election, to be their Senate nominee. He will face Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley, a former chief justice of the state's Supreme Court.

As of Wednesday morning, Budd had received more than 58 percent of the GOP primary vote. Former Gov. Pat McCrory received just below 25 percent of the vote, while former Rep. Mark Walker received about nine percent of the vote.

Keep reading... Show less

Stephen Colbert

It seems we can't go even a week in America without some deranged white nationalist shooter taking the lives of decent people. Of course, this type of violence is propagated on a daily basis by the far-right sh*tweasals at Fox News and, worse yet, in the ranks of the Republican Party.

After returning to the Late Show helm, Stephen Colbert weighed in on the real culprit behind the mass shootings -- the Replacement Theory popularized by Tucker Carlson.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}