WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared unequivocally that the United States has "concluded" that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians. Yet U.S. intelligence officials say questions remain about whether the attack could be linked to Syrian President Bashar Assad or high officials in his government.More:
Obama did not present any direct evidence to back up his assertion that the Syrian government bears responsibility for the attack. U.S. officials were searching for additional intelligence to bolster the case for a strike against Assad's military infrastructure and rule out the possibility that a rogue element of the Syrian military could have used the weapons on its own authority.
More intelligence was being sought by U.S. officials. While a lower-level Syrian military commanders' communications discussing a chemical attack had been intercepted, they don't specifically link the attack to an official senior enough to tie the killings to Assad himself, according to one U.S. intelligence official and two other U.S. officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence publicly.
• FP: "State Dept Admits It Doesn't Know Who Ordered Syria's Chemical Strike"
• Conor Friedersdorf: "The Worst Argument for War in Syria Is Spreading"
• James Fallows: "Here's a Wild Idea About Syria: Make the Case to Congress"
• Desmond Tutu: "We need to talk, to avoid further bloodshed, not to fight."
• DO NOT MISS THIS: George Packer debates himself on intervention in Syria
• Marcy Wheeler: "Anonymous 'Intelligence Officials' Contemplated a Rogue CW Attack 8 Months Ago"
Anyone else find it odd we're developing theories based on Idris' sources in Assad's inner circle? http://t.co/...— emptywheel (@emptywheel) August 29, 2013
Update: David Cole, NYR of Books:
But again, under our Constitution, there is no exception to the requirement of Congressional approval for humanitarian interventions. Any hostile use of military force in another sovereign’s territory without its consent is an act of war, and requires Congress’s assent.Note: laugh track sold separately.
Update 2: NYT Editorial Board: "More answers needed on Syria" (thanks, Mr. Robert)
They absolutely nail it:
If the Obama administration has such evidence, it should make it public immediately. Given America’s gross failure in Iraq — when the Bush administration went to war over nonexistent nuclear weapons — the standard of proof is now unquestionably higher.Update 3: Please see this diary, with this big point:
"The regime in Syria ... has chemical weapons, but they wouldn't use them around Damascus, 5 km from the (U.N.) committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so," Muslim told Reuters.