The Obama administration is now claiming that it does not have irrefutable evidence that Assad used chemical weapons, rather it is relying on “common sense.” You’ve got to be kidding! This is basically admitting the administration wants to attack Syria without adequate proof.
For many the common sense test is actually why the Obama administration is flunking. Common sense tells us Assad, who was winning against the rebels, would not risk using chemical weapons and crossing Obama’s much publicized “red-line.” Why would Assad give the world’s only super power an excuse to enter the war? And, why would he do it when UN inspectors are in Syria already investigating previous allegations? Common sense is actually on the side of Assad, not on the side of Obama.
And, the claim the administration is making that no one has refuted the Obama theory is just plain false, there are many doubts, inconsistencies and alternative scenarios also based on the “evidence.” As we wrote in our most recent newsletter:
“There are lots of doubts about the intelligence alleging that President Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons. There are reports of significant gaps in intelligence, alleged manipulation of intelligence by the administration and different information on who used the weapons with equally credible reports that it was the U.S. supported rebels. There is also inconsistency between nations on what actually happened and how many people were killed. Americans have been lied to so often about war that many no longer trust the government.”
Even at this late date, Associated Press is reporting: “. . . the public has yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence produced by U.S. intelligence – no satellite imagery, no transcripts of Syrian military communications – connecting the government of President Bashar Assad to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month that killed hundreds of people . . . What’s missing from the public record is direct proof, rather than circumstantial evidence, tying this to the regime.”
A few days ago retired intelligence officials wrote President Obama warning:
“We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as ‘plausible denial.'”
Instead the Obama administration is releasing gruesome videos of the deaths in Syria, trying to play on emotion rather than fact. But, these videos still do not confront the key question: what is the proof that this came from Assad and not the rebels? If the administration can answer this question then they must prove it was ordered by Assad or top Syrian officials. A rogue use of chemical weapons is no reason to teach Assad a lesson. To all of these questions the proof is still lacking.
Below is a report on the White House’s new “common sense” line of reasoning. All of this adds up to the bottom line: the United States should not be going to war; it should be teaching Assad a lesson, when there is inadequate proof that he did what the administration claims.
White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough went on the Sunday talk shows to drum up support for what he called a “targeted, limited effort” that will change “the momentum on the battle field” in Syria. Yet he also acknowledged on CNN that the evidence that ties Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Aug. 21 attack outside Damascus that allegedly killed 1,429 people has more to do with a “common-sense test” rather than “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence.”
“We’ve seen the video proof of the outcome of those attacks,” McDonough said. “All of that leads to a quite strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence that suggests that the regime carried this out. Now do we have a picture or do we have irrefutable beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence? This is not a court of law and intelligence does not work that way.” Meanwhile, McDonough also emphasized on NBCthat “nobody is rebutting the intelligence; nobody doubts the intelligence.”
The answer highlights how the White House still has not shown the public a concrete piece of intelligence that directly connect Assad’s regime to the alleged chemical weapons attack, as the Associated Press points out in a detailed story. Meanwhile, Syria and Russia insist it was the rebels who used chemical weapons, a charge they have also failed to prove with any actual evidence. Although some experts insist only the government forces could have carried out such a large strike, “What’s missing from the public record is direct proof, rather than circumstantial evidence, tying this to the regime,” notes the AP.
Beyond the hard evidence for a strike, McDonough also told NBC that it wasn’t just about punishing Assad for using chemical weapons. By striking Syria, the United States would also be sending a message to Iranian leaders that they should know there are consequences to developing nuclear weapons. “This is an opportunity to be bold with the Iranians,” McDonough said.
McDonough appeared on the Sunday talk shows a day before President Obama plans to hold interviews with ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN and Fox to make his administration’s case for a strike. The president is then scheduled to give a primetime address from the White House on Tuesday.