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Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Weapon Attack No ‘Slam Dunk’

President Obama went on television to make his case for war with Syria by claiming that the Syrian government were behind chemical weapons attacks that violated “international norms.” But according to the Associated Press, that is far from a settled question as those AP spoke with say the evidence is far from a “slam drunk.”

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.

But Obama would never lie on TV.  He clearly deserves our unequivocal trust.

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.

Also note the phrase “international consequences.” Does this mean Obama won’t strike without UN approval? Also the use of “norms” is interesting because Syria did not sign the convention against using chemical weapons so they certainly didn’t break international law. Something only complicated by the possibility that Assad, the head of state, did not order the attack if it came from government forces at all.

Perhaps it is time to shelve the military option until we know more.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Intelligence On Syrian Chemical Weapon Attack No ‘Slam Dunk’

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President Obama went on television to make his case for war with Syria by claiming that the Syrian government were behind chemical weapons attacks that violated “international norms.” But according to the Associated Press, that is far from a settled question as those AP spoke with say the evidence is far from a “slam drunk.”

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.

But Obama would never lie on TV.  He clearly deserves our unequivocal trust.

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.

Also note the phrase “international consequences.” Does this mean Obama won’t strike without UN approval? Also the use of “norms” is interesting because Syria did not sign the convention against using chemical weapons so they certainly didn’t break international law. Something only complicated by the possibility that Assad, the head of state, did not order the attack if it came from government forces at all.

Perhaps it is time to shelve the military option until we know more.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.