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Lack of Pharmacological Proof of a Sarin Attack at Damascus: An Open Letter to Congress
Sep09.2013 To: Senators and Representatives of the 113th U.S. Congress Almost 35 years ago I received my PhD in pharmacology from the University of Virginia, specializing in neuropharmacology. In all of those years I can’t help but note how infrequently presidents or Congress have called on pharmacologists to intercede in international crises like, say, decisions as to whether to bomb countries in the Middle East and, possibly, set off a disastrous war in the region. And fair enough, too, because most international crises don’t involve the molecular mechanisms of action or physiological effects of drugs. But this one does. I say that because based on a pharmacological understanding of how sarin works, it is very clear from the videos President Obama is showing you and the rest of the country that a sarin attack did not occur in those Damascus suburbs on Aug21.2013. More precisely, it is virtually certain that even if sarin was present, it could not have been present in sufficiently high concentrations to cause the horrible scenes in those videos. I would like to explain to you why, but before I get to the pharmacology let me briefly identify the pertinent videos that now form the factual basis of this issue. The “Feinstein Package” Over the last few weeks there have been a seemingly endless parade of disturbing images in the form of YouTube videos and screen-grabs from those videos. On seeing those images I have wondered why the victims did not show the symptoms of a sarin attack that I would expect to see, and I figured that President Obama and his NSA people - when not busy reading my Emails - must be looking at a different set of sarin-attack images. Thankfully, you folks in Congress rightly demanded that President Obama show you the videos he was looking at so you could see - and judge - for yourselves. Sen. Diane Feinstein went so far as to collect those videos - there are 13 of them - into a single video package. Bless her. Your constituents can all see the Feinstein Package online,1 and I hope they do. Here is a one-line description of each of the 13 vids that comprise the Feinstein Package, including the time the vid starts, the place the attack is alleged to have occurred, what the local time was when the vid was uploaded to YT, who uploaded the vid, and the YT URL. This information is taken from the Feinstein Package, except for local times of the uploads, which I calculated from the GMT provided. For reference, the vids are numbered  - . Because Ghutah is a sort of ground-zero for this alleged attack, I also provide crow-fly distances of other “attack sites” from Ghutah, obtained from GoogleEarth. All dates are Aug21.2013, local.  00:01  01:00  02:25  03:35  04:27  05:00  07:00 Jawbar ( 3mi due E of Ghutah) • ~ 04:50 am local • youtu.be/keXF8lgu_Eg [Taken down] Ghutah • ~ 07:00 am local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/-QLxJn8TEsk Duma (3 mi N. of Ghutah) • ~ 12:30 pm local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/Op4a7heaRY Darayya (10 mi SE of Ghutah) • ~10:00 am local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/pRi1ge7qaXU Ghutah • ~ Noon local • Aug21.13 SHAMSNN youtu.be/MhgHqE8H_Lc Ayn Tarma (3 mi SE Ghutah) • ~05:15 am local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/2tQnQvYjNYQ Kafr Batna (1 mi SE of Ghutah) • ~03:00 pm local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/txOTy7XbsRg
113th U.S. Congress Sep09.2013 Page 2  07:20  08:32  09:40  10:20  11:50  12:20 Mu’addamiya (could not find on GE) • ~ 05:00 pm local • youtu.be/gR0f9hSIRqg [Taken down] Mulayhah (could not find on GE) • ~ 10:00 am local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/29eadNcm15k Kafr Batna • ~ 01:45 pm local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/S7LGH4ykXYM Kafr Batna • ~ 09:00 am local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/YO7jQPX5jPA Duma • ~ 01:00 pm local • SHAMSNN • youtu.be/Eulr23wzym4 Ghutah • ~ 04:00 am local • MrERBEEN2011 • youtu.be/JqVeCVovF58
A Few “Curiosities” Before getting to the drug issues, I would like to note a few curiosities in these vids. You folks and your staff have certainly reviewed this package very carefully because it is the evidence President Obama is offering to you - and the world - that there was a sarin attack near Damascus on Aug21.2013 - an attack that the president argues the US has a moral obligation to retaliate for. And so, having examined the vids carefully, you have probably already noted a number of curious things. Curiosity #1: Upload times All of the vids except  2 were uploaded to YT by SHAMSNN. This is Shaam News Network, a spooky insurgents’ organization inside Syria that, apparently, doesn’t make vids but packages other people’s vids for distribution on YT. John Sutter of CNN did a piece on SNN back in May.2012 that explains their bag. 3 But the point is, particularly with the SHAMSNN vids, after the CW munitions exploded in these eight different communities, it would have taken time for the chemicals to disperse and for the victims to be poisoned, then it would have taken time to get the victims to the places where the vids were recorded, then to actually record the vids, then to get the vids onto the computers, then to transfer the vids to SHAMSNN, and then to uploaded to YT. According to the intel assessment 4 President Obama made public last week, the attack started at 02:30am local time, which brings us to the curiosity: some of these vids (, , ) were uploaded within just 2-3 hours of the beginning of the attack, and all three of these are from different regions. That is not impossible, necessarily, it’s just very curious. I mean, whoever took the vids had to be functioning very, very efficiently and was very well organized. The vids themselves are marked with various logos indicating that they were produced by organizations and not just some local Syrian with an i-Phone who happened to be passing by. Curiosity #2: Fully dressed victims We keep hearing the emotionally charged allegation that these people were gassed in their sleep at 2 in the morning. Why, then, are virtually all of the victims fully dressed? Do Syrians sleep fully dressed? Even kids? Well, maybe, if you are in a combat zone. It’s just curious. Curiosity #3: Same victims shown in more than one place Vid  is allegedly from Ghutah. Vid  is allegedly from Kafr Batna, 1 mile SE of Ghutah. And yet the same people can be found in both videos. For instance, at 01:12 in  there is a man in very conspicuous grey plaid pants. If you are quick, you can see the same man at 07:05 in . That these are the same man is positively indicated by - in addition to the pants and others
Vid  was uploaded by MrERBEEN2011; I could find no information about who that is. http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/28/tech/web/shaam-news-syria http://www.scribd.com/doc/164320366/u-s-Government-Assessment-on-Syria
113th U.S. Congress Sep09.2013 Page 3 around him - his gold ring on this right hand and by a sandal lying next to his left leg. But it is not a matter of that person being in two different places - the places are absolutely the same, they are just being presented as two different places in the vids. Curiosity #4: Where are the relatives? It is odd how with all of these dead children there are so few parents/relatives in view, with the obvious exception of . Given the large number of young victims shown in the Feinstein Package, one would expect to see quite a few agonized parents, aunts, uncles. In fact, one is struck by how few women are shown, and virtually no elderly people. And I don’t mean women and elderly tending to or mourning the kids; I mean female and elderly victims. Why aren’t those floors covered with old people? They would be most susceptible to sarin. Curiosity #5: No tears. Now, knowing kids like we all do, we know when they are hurt or uncomfortable or scared, they cry. That’s an international prerogative of being a kid. And extrapolating what we know to what we would not want to ever see, we can guess that a youngster who has been poisoned with sarin but who survives - well, that kid is going to be bawling his/her eyes out. And yet almost none of the dozens of kids who are obviously alive in the Feinstein Package have a single visible tear. Some have gummy exudate around their eyes, but no tears. But the lack of crying and tears has pharmacological significance, too, because lacrimation - the production of excess tears - is one effect of these nasty agents. Which brings me to the pharmacology. Pharmacological analysis As you Congresspeople - particularly Dr. Rand - and your staff undoubtedly know by now, sarin is in a class of nasty drugs called oganophosphates, first developed by the Germans shortly after WWI. I’m not going to go into a long historical or pharmacological song and dance about them because all that is relevant to my point is what effect organophosphates have on smooth muscle, particularly the esophagus/stomach, intestines, and urinary bladder - they cause these muscles to contract. The colon and the lower portion of the esophagus are particularly sensitive. Uncontrollable contraction of the esophagus/stomach, colon, and bladder causes emesis (vomiting), defecation, and micturation, respectively. Knowing this, one would absolutely expect to see a lot of feces, vomitus, and urine in a large population of people who had been seriously poisoned by sarin. Unlike politics, this is not some wishy-washy opinion or subjective viewpoint open to debate; it is a fixed, objective, irrefutable biological fact. Now, let me say that I am working not from hands-on experience here, but from incontestable neuropharmacological principles derived, mostly, from experimentation. I have never witnessed a sarin attack, fortunately few people have, for there are only a handful of such attacks known and those have been for the most part in remote areas. Maybe Josef Mengele took notes on these things, but I would be shocked to find that there are any statistics available that would allow us to predict how many human sarin victims out of a group of, say, 3600, would be expected to have vomited or become incontinent. In the absence of such studies all we have is our knowledge of how sarin works on various tissues and what it does to experimental mammals, and there are huge amounts of data available in this respect. Turning then to the Feinstein Package, what these vids tell me as a pharmacologist is that one cannot conclude from the vids that there was a sarin attack around Damascus, or anywhere. Given the scores of victims shown and given the strong and persistent effects of sarin on smooth muscle, one would expect to see copious amounts of feces, vomitus, and urine on the clothes of the victims, on the floors . . . everywhere. And yet search those vids as you might, you will find virtually none.
113th U.S. Congress Sep09.2013 Page 4 There are only two exceptions that I can see. One is at 11:01 in vid  where the man in the brown tee-shirt and jeans may show signs of urinary incontinence. The other one is the child being held in vid , which also suggests urinary incontinence. There may be a few additional instances that one could say “Well, maybe . . .” But the point is that in an attack of this scale and of this magnitude with this many victims, one would expect to see many, many, many unequivocal, messy indications of sarin poisoning, and they are not there. Some of you favoring an attack on Syria may look at the vids and be reassured because of the close up shots of the eyes of some of the victims. Yes, sarin is well known to produce pin-point pupils - miosis - like the ones being shown to the cameras. But please don’t jump to a quick conclusion. There are many weak agents that act the same way sarin does but are used therapeutically. Physostigmine, edrophonium, and neostigmine are common examples. Many easily obtained medical agents could have been safely given - even to children - in order to mimic the effects of sarin. Cyanosis is another physiological effect of sarin that should be conspicuous in the Feinstein Package but is not. Cyanosis - blue extremities - is a symptom caused by reduced oxygen levels in the blood. Large doses of sarin will depress the respiratory and cardiovascular systems through a number of mechanisms. Asphyxia and cardiovascular collapse are the primary causes of death. And so one would expect to see in the victims shown in the vids blue lips, blue fingertips, blue nipples, blue ears, blue feet/toes. Cyanosis is particularly easy to see in children, but when I look at most of those children - at least the ones shown in good light - what I see is surprisingly good color. Rosy cheeks. Pink lips. Conclusion I hope you will not take my word for any of these observations about the Feinstein Package vids. Given the pharmacological effects of sarin described here, please go back and review those vids once more and see for yourself that something is missing. Please ask President Obama and his administration to explain how scores of people could be exposed to lethal doses of sarin and yet not show physiological effects that should be evident. As our representatives, you all are being paid to be skeptical about “evidence” presented by people who want to draw America into a war. Any skeptic of this alleged sarin attack has to be asking: Where are the feces, vomit, and urine? It is not a “nice” point to raise on CSPAN or with Anderson Cooper, but if you don’t raise it and President Obama kills a bunch of Syrians or starts a regional war and gets a bunch of Americans killed, then you will be equally complicit for your lack of skepticism or courage, just as history now holds the 107th Congress complicit in the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 because they failed to ask the Bush administration the right questions. I hope that when you cast your vote for or against giving authorization to President Obama to retaliate against the so-called “sarin attack” of Dasmacus, your conscience will be guided by contemplative reason and objective information including pharmacological information - instead of rage and naked emotion.
Thank you, Denis O’Brien, PhE/Esq.
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