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The AP:

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.

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.

More:

• 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"

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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Maybe they're trying to intimidate the regime (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Little, annan, Bush Bites

    into cooperating with the west/NATO/UN etc to secure the weapons stockpiles so that they can't be used again. That would be a result we could all accept.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:21:49 PM PDT

  •  Hasn't the UN sent in... (8+ / 0-)

    a team to assess just what happened?  Have they offered an assessment?  Am I missing something?

  •  They'll have the "UN Collin Powell Moment" (7+ / 0-)

    figure out soon... I'm sure they're working on "manufacturing" the reason.

  •  That's vague (7+ / 0-)
    lower-level Syrian military commanders' communications discussing a chemical attack
    "Discussing"? What does that mean? We've all been "discussing" it and speculating about it and wondering what it will bring, ever since it was reported, even here.

    What about "ordering" or "planning" or "bragging about" or even "expessing approval of"? If it was that kind of conversation, shouldn't we be hearing more specifics?

    •  Here is the FOreign policy story (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Involuntary Exile, antirove

      It describes calls from the defense ministry to field commanders.  From the sound of it that answers were likely "we thought we had orders" or some other such thing

      http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/...

      This story has more detail than the AP piece on what the questions also are

      •  Gives Assad a way out - name & court martial (0+ / 0-)

        the officer or field commander who 'injected' the orders into chain of command to use chemical weapons into action in lieu of actual valid orders. Just 1 sacrificial goat could prevent the arrival of more sets of foreign armies onto their land, bombs, shells and cruise missiles. Makes Assad far look 'more legit' if he ferrets out and gives up the evil rogue officer, perhaps to UN forces, turned over for war crimes prosecution.

        Hint to Assad: get it done before Sept. 5th (new moon) or possibly October 5th in order to avoid stealth weapons taking out all sorts of assets.

        When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

        by antirove on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:50:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  NY Times Editorial Board (20+ / 0-)
    More Answers Needed on Syria

    Despite the pumped-up threats and quickening military preparations, President Obama has yet to make a convincing legal or strategic case for military action against Syria. While there should be some kind of international response to the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of civilians last week, Mr. Obama has yet to spell out how that response would effectively deter further use of chemical weapons.

    For starters, where is the proof that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria carried out the attack? American, British, French and Turkish officials have been unequivocal in blaming Mr. Assad for the attack, which seems likely since there has been no indication that his regime has lost control of its chemical weapons arsenal or that the opposition has the capability to deliver such a weapon. Still, no evidence to support this claim has been released.

    Mr. Obama has yet to make clear how military strikes — which officials say will last one to two days and target military units that carried out chemical attacks, the headquarters overseeing the effort and the artillery that have launched the attacks — will actually deter chemical attacks without further inflaming a region in turmoil and miring the United States in the Syrian civil war.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 09:57:09 PM PDT

  •  Donald Asshole Trump continues to asshole (11+ / 0-)

    https://twitter.com/...

  •  Note (0+ / 0-)

    This only questions which official in the Assad regime ordered the attacks and still presents no evidence of any false flag attack

  •  Has anyone investigated the possibility.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q

    ...that the opposition (crazed Islamists) did this, knowing that this was a "red line" for Obama, who would have to intervene on their behalf if that "red line" were crossed?

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:13:44 PM PDT

    •  Of course. It's been bandied all about. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Subterranean, FG, PhilK

      Most I've seen say it's unlikely rebels have that capability. And it asks us to believe they went after their own people, own children.

      •  Someone else's children.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Code Monkey

        ....more likely.

        If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

        by Bensdad on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:41:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was a Sunni neighborhod that was struck. nt (0+ / 0-)
          •  Makes no difference.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            protectspice

            ....there are craven people on both sides of the equation. And you can arrange for a chemical attack that hurts those on your side without hurting your own children, cousins or brothers.

            Assad had NOTHING to gain from such an attack. The rebels had everything to gain by being attacked except the loss of life, which they may have calculated as the price of greater gain.

            If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

            by Bensdad on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:33:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Doesn't rule out jihadists who have (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lepanto, CenPhx

            the pure version of Islam. Nor that they'd say "those lucky people, being martyred to Paradise while we have to struggle in this life."

            Of course, who actually did it is not really connected to the question of what degree of insanity would dictate that the US gets involved.


            Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

            by Jim P on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 01:08:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I rather doubt the president would (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doroma

    paint himself into a corner but the NYT while bloody annoying and stupid is sadly probably right. The 'standard' is now arbitrarily higher now never mind that this is little different from Kosovo.

  •  The President needs to (9+ / 0-)

    present irrefutable, independently verifiable evidence that the Assad regime carried out this attack, and he need to get the backing of the U.N.

    These two points should not even be up for debate.

  •  The UN is where this matter should be argued (6+ / 0-)

    Chemical weapons use is subject to proof of responsibility. The UN is where that should be litigated. We owe it to the UN to provide them with all the evidence we have about who is responsible for this horrible chemical attack.

    If responsibility for chemical weapons use is established by the UN, appropriate response is also decided by the UN.

    Only with UN approval should actions be taken against whichever perpetrator is found to have gassed people in Syria.

    Military actions are not the only options available to the UN, so let's follow our treaty obligations and support the UN should they choose options which are not military.

    Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

    by Zinman on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:48:47 PM PDT

    •  The UN seems a poor vehicle (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      Since it seems there is a good chance that if the Syrian government is guilty of wrong-doing, Russia might still protect Assad by using its Security Council veto (and if not Russia, then possibly China).  I'm not sure how the other great powers would react if the evidence pointed the other way, but I am pessimistic that any action that requires a UN Security Council vote will be authorized.

  •  I fear that President Obama has handled this (10+ / 0-)

    whole Syria thing very poorly.

    So much so, that it now looks like he'll have to go and bomb the shit out of some unfortunates in Syria no matter who turns out to have done the gassing, just so that he won't lose face.

    It started with his impetuous and innoportune red lines which entrapped him by leaving him little space for maneuver (a real diplomatic no-no).

    Moreover, these were aimed solely at the Assad regime, thereby implying that the rebels couldn't possibly do such things, notwithstanding that the rebels have been brutally massacring minorities in Syria now for well over two years and are on record for previous incidents of gassing.

    That these red lines envisaged beforehand only the Assad regime gives the impression that, no matter the rhetoric about protecting Syrian civilians from chemical attacks, they were really about regime change notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary - and I indeed believe this to be the case.

    Then, Secretary Kerry's Colin Powell-like intervention with its premature "undeniable" and "little doubt" provided no evidence, but seemed to demand some kind of faith-response.

    I don't know who has been advising the President on this issue (though I suspect it to have been Samantha Powers and Susan Rice who were also the movers behind our "humanitarian bombing" intervention in Libya), but they've sure done a piss poor job of it all.

    I fear this is going to turn out very badly for President Obama, and even leave an indelible stain of shame on what is already likely to be a less than sparking legacy.

    I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 10:58:39 PM PDT

    •  Well, the first responsibility goes to Assad. (0+ / 0-)

      And then there are layers after layers after layers. I'm srue Obama and admin have been adiing the rebels for a long time, and hoping they'd win relatively quickly, as happened with a lot ofthe Arab Spring countries. But yeah, a lot of screwups, and a lot of chickens landing now.

    •  I don't think Obama into killing people just to (0+ / 0-)

      "save face".

      And I'm not even sure how it applies here anyway.
      I think he was serious about the red line, so if it's been crossed, then he'd decide to intervene, not to save face, but to punish the use of chemical weapons.  If the red line hasn't been crossed, then he'd decide not to intervene.

      I keep hearing this, "Obama boxed himself in",  the only way that makes sense is if one believes that he really doesn't want to punish the use of chemical weapons but will feel forced to because he said he would.  I don't buy it.

      Besides that, he never said what the consequence of crossing the red line would be, so there is actually lots of room to maneuver.  If the President was only about "saving face" rather than real intent to punish use of chemical weapons, he could do that just by shipping more arms to the rebels, and say, "See, Syria crossed the red line and so we're arming the rebels."  Or he could increase economic sanctions.  Or whatever.

      I don't think this is about "saving face", that sounds like beltway village crap.

      Besides that, if it turned out that Syria did cross the red line, but some other circumstance arose that made punishing Syria imprudent, then I don't think Obama would intervene just to save face, he'd cite the hypothetical circumstance in question as reason to walk back his earlier comment.

      •  Then why the run up to attack Syria? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CenPhx

        Why not call for the UN inspectors to release their report?

        If Kerry had said, "If the UN inspectors can prove that Assad did this, the United States will persue military action by the UN and through NATO," it would be plausible. Instead we have asked the UN to leave, as we have concluded that Assad did this. Even if Russia and China were to veto, it would give legitimacy to military intervention.

        If he doesn't think he can get this past Congress, then why suggest military intervention without UN backing? Congress may still balk, but with the UN requesting the US to intervene it would be hard pressed not to back down, especially with other governments cooperating.

        And if it is proven that the rebels did this, are we going to help Assad? If this is a moral issue, then it shouldn't matter that we dislike Assad...his people were attacked with chemical weapons by rebels. Therefor we can either help him bomb the rebels (who we have been directly or indirectly helping), or we can provide aid to Assad so he can put down the rebellion.

        If it isn't about "saving face," then he has done a terrible job of prosecuting this as a war crime.

        •  That's not the UN's mandate (0+ / 0-)

          From Ban Ki-Moon's 8-19 presser:

          SG:  As you said, it is right that the current mandate of this expert team to investigate chemical weapons use does not have the authority to determine who has used against whom.  They will have to determine, through their investigation, whether the chemical weapons were used.

          “The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot do so well for themselves”- Lincoln

          by commonscribe on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:57:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  some might call that a part of his smart diplomacy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CenPhx, Lepanto

      in action, but I would not be one of them.

      An incredibly not smart, not diplomatic move.....

      It started with his impetuous and innoportune red lines which entrapped him by leaving him little space for maneuver (a real diplomatic no-no).

      "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

      by allenjo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:36:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rebels Lack The Ability To Fake Such An Attack (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Subterranean

    If they had the ability to pull off coordinated rocket artillery barrages, they would have won this war a while ago.  They don't have 1/20 of the ability to make such an attack.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:08:03 PM PDT

    •  The munitions used in the latest attack (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, Jim P, Lepanto, CenPhx

      were 140mm tube fired missiles. The rebels have been using grad missiles for over a year now. These missiles are notoriously inaccurate.

      If they had the ability to pull off coordinated rocket artillery barrages, they would have won this war a while ago.
      The rebels have had the ability to do just that with rockets, mortars, artillery and IED's. That is why Assad has only 6 functioning airbases out of 26 now. The rebels control 7 and the rest are under fire or abandoned. Dozens of small army bases have been taken. For a bunch of ragtag rebels, they have put a huge crimp in Assad's forces over the last 2 years.

      Making crude sarin is fairly easy. The precursors could have been obtained from the large chemical company the rebels took in Allepo several months ago.

      Don't forget that there are a large number of deserters with their knowledge and skills from the army.

      •  The rebels (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CenPhx

        Have multiple rocket launcher systems.   Also many DIY launchers.  There are soviet G agent munitions for this and other systems.  The sophisticated part is the munition and the fusing to achieve fixed flight distance and air burst.  

        One of these munitions could be smuggled around in a trombone case, 6 in a case about the size of a casket.  

        A one minute google would refute the fact that the rebels don't have the technical capacity to deploy G munitions.  I wish Harf would stop saying that.

        In 2012, Assad consolidated all his CW into a few sites and put them under republican guard control.  Western intelligence has been watching these sites very carefully.

        Tis whole thing is fishy, but the bottom line, to me, is that CW was deployed by somebody.  The civil war has escalated to a point which supports external intervention to resolve it.  It has to end.  Preferably via diplomatic means.  

        That's what I think Obama is doing, pulling a "crazy Ivan" to wake up the international community and specifically the various proxy players and motivate them to find an accomodation everyone can live with.  

      •  The Rebels Are Bumblefucks (0+ / 0-)

        They get a weapon, they shoot it in the general direct of Assad's troops. I have not seen any evidence of them coordinating artillery barrages on multiple targets or even one target.  I saw one video a year ago of them supposedly using a missile barrage and it got hooted at because the video seemed to be from Libya two years ago.

        Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

        by bernardpliers on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:09:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Silly me. Here I believe President Obama. (0+ / 0-)

    I think they do have indisputable proof that the big nerve gas attack in east Damascus came from the Syrian Army.  What to do about that is way above my pay grade.

    But I think he's right on that fundamental fact.

  •  Oh, the ironies abound from the Times. (8+ / 0-)

    The same assholes who put theblying sack of shit Judy Miller's bogus aluminum tubes stories on the front page that helped lead us into war now have the gall to "the Bush administration went to war over non-existent nuclear weapons."

    Don't get me wrong. I'm glad they've woken up, but the hypocritical revisionist history that excludes or ignores their own significant role in leading us into that disaster is truly astounding.

    Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

    by Bob Johnson on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:12:36 PM PDT

    •  Well, you mean they have to say it every (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Code Monkey, CenPhx

      time it comes up? It has been about 9 years since they at least ackowledged it. I don't think their statement today amounts to "revisionist history." Maybe Im' missing something.

      But you're right, it's an ugly irony.

      •  I meant the bolder words lay it all on the Bush (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DeadHead, Bush Bites, Lepanto, doroma

        ... Administration. And, no, they never really did come clean. Remember that whole blow-up with the Public Editor?

        I just have to laugh at them now getting all huffy. Glad they're applying pressure instead of rolling over like they did last time.

        Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

        by Bob Johnson on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:24:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't remember that. I found this: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bob Johnson

          http://www.nytimes.com/...

          Five days later, The Times reporters learned that the tubes were in fact a subject of debate among intelligence agencies. The misgivings appeared deep in an article on Page A13, under a headline that gave no inkling that we were revising our earlier view ("White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons"). The Times gave voice to skeptics of the tubes on Jan. 9, when the key piece of evidence was challenged by the International Atomic Energy Agency. That challenge was reported on Page A10; it might well have belonged on Page A1.
          I mean, it's hard to give them ANY credite - it is a freaking WAR we're talking about - but...

          And maybe worth noting that they sure as fuck weren't hte only ones who just seemed to love the violence. But they are THE Times, soo...

          blech. This all just sucks. Nothing good to take from this shit.

      •  It's an editorial, they're talking about Iraq. (0+ / 0-)

        Of course they should acknowledge their role.

  •  If it were some rogue commander (0+ / 0-)

    in the Syrian army, why hasn't Assad very publicly removed him from command?  If he lets his military commanders use CWs at will without any repercussions, he would ultimately be responsible, yes?  

    What if some fundy whackjob in the USAF decided to drop a load of sarin in Tehran, and then Obama did nothing to punish the commander or remove him from command?  Would anyone here argue that the US had not actually attacked Iran, because Obama technically didn't order it?  

    It's great that the media are now hold a democratic president to a higher standard than the last republican president, but we need to be skeptical of the media's motive as well as the administration's.  And any comparisons to Iraq are absurd.  We KNOW without doubt that sarin has been used repeatedly in Syria.  There was no evidence of any WMD use of any kind in Iraq in over a decade prior to Bush's conquest.  

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 11:35:58 PM PDT

    •  I would argue that it is more important to know (5+ / 0-)

      WHO employed the sarin. Unfortunately, Obama has said he would hold Assad responsible if the rebels got a hold of any CW. At the same time, the west is supplying the rebels with arms with which to destroy Assad's forces.

      Bush also put Saddam in a Catch-22 position. Saddam had opened up the country for inspectors to look in every nook and cranny but Bush said it was too late - he had made the decision and there was no turning back.

      I think the US is going to regret this in the morning....

      We KNOW without doubt that sarin has been used repeatedly in Syria.
      The sarin attack in Khan Al-Assal was determined to have been done by the opposition. The sarin did not contain stabilizer and the explosive charge was of the wrong type. This information went to the UN and the event was soon forgotten by the western media.

      The US needs to wait for the UN report or produce the evidence before attacking. Otherwise the US and it's allies are behaving like a lynch mob and it's Iraq 2.0.

    •  May not want to admit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CenPhx, Subterranean

      that there's a rebellion within the ranks of his own army, at high enough levels to have access to chemical weapons.

      I have no idea what's really going on over there. That's the point; I doubt anyone does, except possibly people who have spent their whole lives studying it, and even then they're just guessing based on the color of the smoke rising from the ruins. So the chance of hitting the wrong target or killing people who had nothing to do with it seems extremely high.

    •  If he did, Assad would be admitting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Subterranean

      his CW are out with his front line units... which he can't really do.

      Frankly, I lean toward  the mistake theory... and those low-level Syrian army intercepts are probably something like :
      "you just fired WHAT???"

      “The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot do so well for themselves”- Lincoln

      by commonscribe on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:02:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What will an attack accomplish? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, CenPhx

    Some blown up buildings and bases. The war goes on as before.

    The chemical weapons will not be touched. Left available should Assad decide he has nothing to lose in his last days before the rebels take Damascus.

    Not seeing the logic here other than a symbolic slap on the wrist.

    The Fierce Urgency of Later

    by Faroutman on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 12:38:04 AM PDT

    •  Well I'm trying this thought experiment: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lepanto, Lawrence, Faroutman, CenPhx

      We launch anywhere from 1 to 1000 missiles.

      We take out some part of Assad's assets. There will be people killed in that process. The more bombs the more collateral damage (aka heads blown off of torsos, legs laying 30 feet from the body, etc)

      If we hurt Assad a lot, he has to step up his war against the rebels with what's left to him. He saw what happened to 'Daffy over in Libya and Saddam in Iraq, so it's his personal ass on the line.

      He'll probably conduct more brutal, and more massive and indiscriminate killing. Maybe he'll use the good murder instruments we can approve of; maybe not.

      If we hurt him enough to let the rebels take over, then we'll see systematic genocide of his Shi'a-ist religion and the various Christians and Druze and whatnot.

      The Jihadists among the rebels, funded by our beloved friends, the democracy-loving and tolerant Saudis and Gult States, will also add impure Sunnis to the blender.

      In short multi-directional civil war for years, with a brutal dictator, likely anti-American, in charge if the war ever ends.

      Of course, we're not sure if there will be retaliation in the US or Europe for the attack, but there sure as hell will be a lot of people thinking about it. Whether there will be sympathy attacks with missiles on our sea forces from Lebanon, or even Syria...maybe.

      In short, the best outcome we'll see from our attacks is more dead people. And I think that'll show 'em all, the whole fucking world -- and I'm looking at you China and Russia -- just how fucking crazy we are.


      Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

      by Jim P on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 01:28:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are correct that there are scenarios (0+ / 0-)

        where Syria could become even worse than it is now.

        Any action must be very carefully considered.

        This is not a nation against nation war, after all, but a civil war.

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:54:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's also the potential for escalation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P

        Say Syria gets lucky and hits one of our  missile equipped ships or jets  with their own missiles. Or Russian ships get into the fray by fumble and confusion. Lots of ways things could spiral into a spreading, deepening conflict. Supposedly military planners factor all this in, but there has always been the oops, I never thought that would happen factor.

        The Fierce Urgency of Later

        by Faroutman on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:06:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I read this morning that Russia has ships on the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CenPhx

          way.

          Or Russian ships get into the fray by fumble and confusion. Lots of ways things could spiral into a spreading, deepening conflict.

          "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

          by allenjo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:42:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Will the UN team have time to investigate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floande, Lepanto, CenPhx

    other CW attacks near Damascus or will they be forced out like the inspectors were in Iraq because of immanent bombing by US forces?

    The US needs to let the UN inspectors do their job.

    Syria asks UN to immediately investigate 3 new ‘chemical attacks’ by rebels
    August 29, 2013 04:55

    The Syrian government is demanding that the United Nations immediately investigate three alleged chemical attacks carried out by rebel groups on the outskirts of Damascus last week, Syria’s envoy to the UN said.

    Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said he had requested of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the team of experts currently in Damascus investigating an alleged use of chemical weapons last week also investigate these other attacks.

    The attacks took place on August 22, 24 and 25 in Jobar, Sahnaya, and al-Bahariya, Jaafari told journalists Wednesday. The “militants” used toxic chemical gas against the Syrian army, the diplomat said.

  •  How many people within the Assad regime would (0+ / 0-)

    have the authority to order the use of chemical weapons?

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 01:28:08 AM PDT

  •  US intelligence on weapons no 'slam dunk' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Little, allenjo, CenPhx
    The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no "slam dunk," with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria's chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike, U.S. intelligence officials say.
     President Barack Obama declared unequivocally Wednesday that the Syrian government was responsible, while laying the groundwork for an expected U.S. military strike.

    "We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out," Obama said in an interview with "NewsHour" on PBS. "And if that's so, then there need to be international consequences."

    However, multiple U.S. officials used the phrase "not a slam dunk" to describe the intelligence picture — a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet's insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk" — intelligence that turned out to be wrong.

    http://abcnews.go.com/...

    Why the rush then, Mr President?

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:34:00 AM PDT

    •  because it's a bum's rush (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lepanto

      This is what the MIC tries to do.  The best deterrent to militarism is always open debate.  That is why they want to rush into war.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

      by noofsh on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:47:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  UK House of Commons also being sticky wicket (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CenPhx

    based, in part, on people aware they got snookered into supporting the attack on Iraq in 2003 by misinformation from Tony Blair and his people, and from Bush/Cheney and their people, and from believing shills like Chalabi.

    To quote the great orator George W. Bush, "Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice," something something something.

    •  Exactly! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lepanto

      We seen this movie too many times already.  It stunk the first time and likely stinks again.  How the hell does anyone know that this wasn't al qaeda that got a hold of chemical weapons and did this to sucker us into a war?

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

      by noofsh on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:52:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  make it public immediately (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CenPhx

    hard evidence, not what we have heard thus far of war rhetoric........

    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.

    To quote the great orator George W. Bush, "Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice," something something something.

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

    by allenjo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:52:24 AM PDT

  •  bum's rush to war (0+ / 0-)

    Mr. President the time to stop this nonsense is now.  One thing will lead to another and despite your best intentions not to get involved in regime change that is exactly what will occur.  We can not afford to be sunk in another long term war / occupation.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:46:44 AM PDT

  •  hmm (0+ / 0-)

    Pick a date..any date...put it back in the deck..now shuffle the deck....

    Let's see was the date February 5, 2003?

    The proof may be in the pudding..but who decides the ingredients

    ring around the rosy, apocket full of posies, ashes..ashes..we
    ALL fall down..

  •  Does it matter? (0+ / 0-)

    Serious question:

    If someone is of the opinion that a regime using chemical weapons on civilians should be removed from power (or, at a minimum, lose its ability to deploy chemical weapons), then should it matter if the use is ordered from the top or the result of poor controls on field commanders? Why should it make a difference if the weapons were used because someone high up said to use them or if nobody high up had the ability to stop them from being used?

    If Assad ordered the strikes personally, the argument would be that he should be removed from power to prevent future attacks (and as a warning to future despots in similar revolutionary situations to take the damn golden parachute when it's offered). If he didn't, then we have another major problem: chemical weapons are in the hands of people who aren't waiting for orders to use them. Is that to Assad's credit?

    "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

    by JR on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:10:53 AM PDT

  •  Now.. if Dick Cheney told you Syria was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lepanto

    using WMD or "merely Chemical Weapons" you would be suspicious.

    But, come on!  It's Barack Obama whose beating the drums of war!  Surely you can trust him, right?  

    It's just merely a coincidence that Syria features prominently with the likes of PNAC.  Merely a coincidence.

    Just happenstance that the Empire continues its wars of aggression under  (D).

    Nothing to see here folks, move along.  

    Go Team Blue!

    And what an odd thing.. the U.S. says publicly that if Syria uses Chemical Weapons it would be crossing a "Red Line".  And Poof!  Like Magic!  They supposedly do, or so we're told.

    What a happy happy coincidence!

    Waking Up Yet?

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 12:48:46 PM PDT

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