By Elizabeth Woodworth
The connections between the foreign intervention crisis in Syria, the vast NSA surveillance program that has recently been exposed, and the sequence of events that began with NSA program changes in February, 2001 — six months before 9/11 — are illuminating.
In mid June 2013 the Obama administration announced that it will start arming insurgents against the Syrian government because the regime crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons — which it estimates have killed, over time, an estimated 100-150 rebels.
What we are not being told is the history of President Bashar Assad, nor is he seen speaking in the American media.
Assad is a medical doctor of mild personality who graduated in Damascus in 1988 and later began a four-year program of ophthalmology in London, England. When Hafez Assad, President of Syria, his father died in 2000, Bashar was elected President of Syria by a large popular majority, and again in 2007.
We are not given insight by the media into President Bashar Assad, the man.
He is married to British-educated Asma al-Assad, born in London, and a former investment banker. “She received the Gold Medal of the Presidency of The Italian Republic for humanitarian work in 2008 and won an honorary archaeology doctorate from La Sapienza university in Rome.”
Although seen in interviews by independent journalists to be mild-mannered, respectful, rationally articulate, and fluent in English, Assad is seldom seen speaking in the US mainstream media.
Thus it is poignant to watch his 18-minute interview with German reporter Jürgen Todenhöfe in July 2012, and to hear his under-stated account of the foreign-backed insurgents whose violence has led to the deaths of thousands of Syrian state supporters.
It is illuminating to watch the 5-minute interview Assad gave the Sunday Times, March 3, 2013, saying that as long as Britain arms the insurgents to save Syria from its repressive dictator, “the arsonist cannot be seen as the firefighter.”
In another recent German TV interview, Assad (whom we know is a medical doctor) discusses the alleged and contradictory use of chemical weapons — defined as “weapons of mass destruction” — in local ground combat. He goes on to describe external financial support to the insurgents as “stoking the fire.”
Indeed, Aron Lund, a Swedish observer of the Syrian opposition, has listed about a dozen rebel groups, the largest of which are funded by either the West, the Gulf states, or Turkey. The 80,000-strong Free Syrian Army (also known as the Supreme Military Council), “was created in December 2012 after pressure from Western and Gulf Arab nations, which seek to make it the military wing of Syria’s civilian exile group, the National Coalition.”
To understand why the Western media, under heavy influence from the Pentagon, has demonized Mr. Assad as a vicious and indiscriminate murderer of his own subjects, we can turn to a 2006 interview of General Wesley Clark, a Rhodes scholar and the Supreme Allied Commander (Europe) of NATO, 1997-2000.
Speaking on March 2, 2007 to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Clark said that about ten days after 9/11 he visited his former staff in the Pentagon. They told him, in astonished tones, that the US was going to go to war with Iraq — which they said had no demonstrated connection to 9/11, and they were at a complete loss to explain why. 
A few weeks later Clark went back to the Pentagon and was told that the US was going to “take out” seven Middle East countries in the next five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. He added, “Had there been no oil there it would be like Africa. Nobody is threatening to intervene in Africa.” 
This early agenda for “take out,” said by Clark to have been in place immediately after 9/11, raises questions about the anthrax attacks, which started September 18, 2001.
The letters containing the lethal spores targeted, among others, Democratic Senators Tom Daschle (Senate Majority Leader) and Patrick Leahy. During this period of intense panic in Washington the 342-page Patriot Act was rushed through Congress October 24 and passed the Senate the next day.
It has since been amply demonstrated that the highly weaponized spores contained in the anthrax letters originated from within a US military laboratory, and were too sophisticated to have been produced by a non-state laboratory or by an individual.
Now if we look at the origins of the NSA super-surveillance program, which is generally believed to have begun right after 9/11 as a provision of the Patriot Act, we will see that in fact it began in February, 2001, within weeks after the swearing in of the Bush administration.
Mr. William Binney, a 40-year veteran of the NSA, explains that all communications companies were required at that time to collect data on their customers. One company, Qwest Communications, refused to do this, and its CEO, Joe Nacchio, is still in prison on false charges of insider trading.
Mr. Binney emphasized that virtually no one in the country was exempt. Even judges were recorded, so that almost everyone in the United States could potentially be coerced, using selected personal data as leverage. The implications are staggering. How many elected and bureaucratic officials could be — or have already been — brought to heel in this manner?
Meanwhile, the mainstream media have increasingly accepted the US position that Middle East countries plagued by civil wars caused by repressive dictators must be saved by humanitarian intervention from enlightened Western democracies.
Indeed Reuters correspondent Mark Hosenball reported last August that “President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government.” 
The Reuters article continued:
“Recent news reports from the region have suggested that the influence and numbers of Islamist militants, some of them connected to al Qaeda or its affiliates, have been growing among Assad’s opponents.”
On June 17, 2013, CNN supported the al Qaeda connection:
“Al Qaeda’s affiliate inside Syria is now the best-equipped arm of the terror group in existence today, according to informal assessments by U.S. and Middle East intelligence agencies, a private sector analyst directly familiar with the information told CNN.” 
In May, 2013, former FBI translator and whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds had reported that “Bin Laden – and his number 2 Al Qaeda lieutenant – Ayman al-Zawahiri – worked with the U.S. government for 3 months after 9/11 to coordinate destablization in the Caucus region.” 
In light of the evidence above connecting al Qaeda to the U.S. government, it is imperative to go back to 9/11 — the trigger event for the global war on terror — and take a second look.
In fact this is being done.
A new source of evidence-based research is being developed by the academic 24-member 9/11 Consensus Panel, which has developed 32 Consensus Points examining the official claims about how events unfolded that day. The Panel uses a standard medical model to evaluate its evidence, which is intended to provide confidence to the media and the public in reconsidering the events of 9/11.
The enormous cost in lives and dollars of the Middle East wars, coupled with the pervasive spying of domestic citizens now in progress, should prompt all those interested in democracy to look carefully at this evidence.
And regarding Syria at this moment, why is it the responsibility of the United States to intervene in the civil war of a sovereign country?
If humanitarian intervention is indeed desired, why is it not a peace-keeping initiative arranged by the United Nations?
 “Text: US Statement on Syria — Chemical Weapons,” ABC News, June 14, 2013 (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/text-us-statement-syria-chemical-weapons-19396269#.Ub9-PJzm-HQ ). To put the priority of this “red line” in perspective, note that 443,000 preventable deaths are caused each year in the USA by smoking, “Tobacco Use: Targeting the Nation’s Leading Killer at a Glance, 2011,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/osh.htm).
 “Asma al-Assad: Syria’s first lady,” ABC News Australia, March 21, 2012 (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-20/asma-al-assad-profile/3900816).
 “Syria’s President Baschar al Assad gives Interview to German Television” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEh1VClsnFM).
 “German television interviews the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad,” February 20, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nau-VSu25VQ
 “Freedom Fighters? Cannibals? The Truth about Syria’s Rebels, The Independent, June 17, 2013 ( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/freedom-fighters-cannibals-the-truth-about-syrias-rebels-8662618.html.) “Mr. Lund is a regular contributor to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs. He is considered one of the best informed observers of the Syrian opposition.”
 “General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned — Seven Countries In Five Years” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw).
 The Patriot Act is downloadable at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ56/pdf/PLAW-107publ56.pdf.
 Edward Jay Epstein, “The Anthrax Attacks Remain Unsolved,” The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2010 (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704541004575011421223515284.html).
 William Binney interview: “Inside the NSA’s Domestic Surveillance Apparatus: Whistleblower William Binney Speaks Out,” Democracy Now, June 10, 2013 (http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2013/6/10/inside_the_nsas_domestic_surveillance_apparatus_whistleblower_william_binney_speaks_out), and Dave Hodges, “Before Edward Snowden, There Was Joseph Nacchio,” The Common Sense Show, June 13, 2013 (http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com/2013/06/13/before-edward-snowden-there-was-joseph-nacchio/).
 “Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret U.S. support for Syrian rebels,” Reuters, August 1, 2012 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/01/us-usa-syria-obama-order-idUSBRE8701OK20120801).
 Barbara Starr, “Analyst: Al Qaeda Affiliate in Syria now Best-Equipped of the Group,” CNN, June 17, 2013 (http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/17/analyst-al-qaeda-affiliate-in-syria-now-best-equipped-of-the-group/ ).
 Edmonds’ credibility was confirmed in a 2002 coalition letter to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (http://web.archive.org/web/20071031085021/http://www.libertycoalition.net/state-secrets-privelage/coalition-letter-to-the-house-committee-on-oversight-and-government-reform-on-criminal-activities-by-the ).
 “Report: U.S. Government and NATO Worked with Bin Laden and His Top Lieutenant 3 Months AFTER 9/11,” Washington’s Blog, May 2, 2013 (http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/05/report-u-s-government-worked-with-bin-laden-and-his-top-lieutenant-2-months-after-911.html).
 See: http://www.consensus911.org. Note the Panel’s methodology, voting members, and honorary members.
An earlier version of this piece first appeared at Global Research