President Obama has ignored the admonitions of the French and British that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons.
Now Israel confirms our allies’ view, as CNN reports:
“In all likelihood, they used sarin gas,” Brig. Gen. Itai Brun said at a conference in Tel Aviv. This comes as a civil war between the government and rebels rages across Syria, which borders Israel.
“One of the main characteristics of the recent events in Syria is the increasing use of ground-to-ground missiles, rockets and chemical weapons by the Syrian regime,” Brun said, according to quotes provided by the IDF.
“According to our professional assessment, the regime has used deadly chemical weapons against armed rebels on a number of occasions in the past few months. For instance, on March 19, 2013, victims suffered from shrunken pupils, foaming from the mouth and other symptoms which indicate the use of deadly chemical weapons. The type of chemical weapons was likely sarin, as well as neutralizing and nonlethal chemical weapons.”
The State Department spokesman has been struggling to rebut the suggestion that we are ignoring solid intelligence or dragging our feet so as not to confirm these findings for ourselves. At Monday’s State Department briefing, it went like this:
QUESTION: France and Britain have conveyed to Ban Ki-moon that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in Aleppo and Damascus. Are you aware of these reports, and what’s your reaction to them?
MR. VENTRELL: We are aware of these press reports and have no new information to share at this time. I do refer you to the U.K. and France about that specifically. But what the Assad regime can do, and what they should do, the Assad regime and its supporters, to prove that their request for an investigation was not just some sort of diversionary tactic, is to let the UN team in. And the UN has said that they can get them in within a matter of days to begin their full and thorough and credible investigation. So that’s really what the regime needs to do in the face of these allegations instead of continuing to sort of divert attention away.
QUESTION: How much evidence is actually left now? Isn’t part of the problem that sort of the evidence of chemical weapons degrades pretty quickly, and it’s been, what, about a month, five weeks now since the allegations were first made?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I don’t have any technical information one way or another. But we think it’s very important to gather the evidence. We’ve wanted the team in going back now a ways back. And so we’re going to continue to push for that, but obviously these are difficult things to investigate, and we understand the UN has special expertise. But they need to get into the country. . . .
QUESTION: One more on Syria. How can you verify the Syrian regime has crossed the red line in case the UN groups or observers were not allowed to get into Syria?
MR. VENTRELL: The bottom line is that we’re using all available means to make sure that we get as much information as we can about what may or may not have been used inside of Syria. The UN investigation is one of those means. Obviously, I can’t get in to intelligence here from this podium, but we’ll continue to watch very carefully, and we’ve been long and consistently clear in our response that the Syrian Government should not use these munitions, that that would be a horrible mistake, and anybody who does will be held accountable.
This is pathetic and, worse, dangerous. Not only have we in effect signaled that we are willing to turn a blind eye toward Assad’s use of WMD’s, but also we have signaled to Tehran that the president’s words regarding WMD’s are meaningless. Whatever Obama says — “game changer,” “red line” — can be safely ignored since his main goal, apparently, is to do nothing that would require U.S. action, evading facts if need be.
The appropriate House and Senate oversight committees should get senior officials under oath and have them explain why the administration, unlike the French, British and Israelis, won’t acknowledge the use of chemical weapons and whether the president simply is refusing to acknowledge the obvious for fear of having to act. As for the White House press corps, once again they are demonstrating an utter lack of interest in pressing the White House on important issues. It’s time for them and for Congress to do their job; the president sure isn’t.