Some Points about The White House "Assessement" on Syria

Finally a Major News Chain Asks Questions about the Evidence

Sept. 3. An article in the McClatchy papers questions the claim that U.N. inspectors are "too late" and the number of 1,400 dead

Here's Our Own Earlier Points

by Stanley Heller

Aug. 31. First reflections on the report

1. There is no actual "evidence" in the assessment. It's a four page paper of claims about the evidence. There are no audio files of alleged Syrian communications, no transcripts of phone calls, no mention of analysis of physical samples of tissues of the deceased or pieces of bombs with telltale remnants of chemicals. It talks about videos generally, but doesn't mention any specifically or give URL's to any.

2. The most damning charge is "We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence. On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations." Yet there is no audio file or transcript of these communications even though producing such evidence would hardly imperil any U.S. human "sources".

3. It says a "nerve agent" caused the deaths, but doesn't go beyond that.

4. It says "the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely", but doesn't explain why. One would think they would say something like: a) the nerve agent was only produced in .... and the rebels had no access to that or b) the rockets with traces of the nerve agent were not of the kind given by Qatar or Saudi Arabia to rebel armed forces, etc.

5. It defends its lack of actual evidence by saying it has to protect its intelligence sources. Since it's widely believed its sources are Syria's old enemy Israel this is far from convincing.

6. It doesn't attempt to refute Assad government charges that they found chemicals in tunnels in rebel areas.

7. One conclusion of the report seems reasonable, that the video evidence available online and the many many social media accounts do show that some kind of large scale attack did take place, probably chemical.

8. If as the report says the U.S. had "intelligence" three days before the attack that there was to be a chemical attack why didn't it say something about it quietly to Syria or loudly to the public??

What's desperately needed is a professional, impartial body to determine what happened and to place blame

There is no reason for haste with this. Assad's forces aren't going anywhere. There are already ample reasons for people of good will to demand Russia and Iran stop supplying the regime with weapons as they demand that the U.S. and it's Gulf allies stay out.

Here's an assessment of the "Assessment" by investigative reporter Robert Parry which makes some of the same points as above.