The document released on the White House web site to “prove” to the American people that the Syrian government had used poison gas — allegedly the neurotoxin Sarin — to kill hundreds of civilians, is so flawed and lacking in real proof that if it were being used to make a case against a terrorist group it would be too weak to justify an indictment.
For starters, there is no documentary proof offered. Only assertions about evidence which is never actually shown. No maps. No satellite or aerial spy-plane or drone surveillance photos. No identified witnesses with verifiable expertise. All there is in this document is a narrative with assertions like: “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.”
There are coy explanations for the lack of any hard evidence, like: “To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis.”
Remember, we’re talking about a debate over whether to have the US launch a war of aggression against a sovereign nation that poses absolutely no risk either to the US or even to its allies directly abutting Syria. The reality is that this is about launching a war against a country wracked by civil war, not a country that is threatening its neighbors, or US interests and citizens. And make no mistake, a major US bombing campaign against Syria will not be clean and precise. Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of innocent Syrian men, women and children will be killed, whether by errant bombs and rockets, or by accurate ones that hit targets located near residences.
The first section of the report is devoted to trying to make the case that poison gas, and specifically Sarin, was used in a suburb of Damascus. No actual evidence is presented, though certainly there is evidence available — specifically the reports of physicians working in Syria with Doctors Without Borders. Why those doctors are not identified is never explained, but perhaps it is because to do so would make the lack of identifiable sources for the rest of the argument all the more blatant. In any event, it is probable that Sarin was used and that a considerable number of people were killed or injured by the chemical, but that is no casus belli, since it is not at all clear who is responsible for the release of the deadly chemical–the Syrian government, the rebels, or, as retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell has suggested, Israel.
Moving along, the White House document becomes even more opaque and useless.
Civilians killed in war: alleged Syrian Sarin gas victims (left), and US bombing victims in Afghanistan (right). All just as innocent; all just as dead.
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