Laying groundwork for Syria strike

White House press secretary Jay Carney. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

White House press secretary Jay Carney. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Obama administration is laying the groundwork for potential military action in Syria in the coming days, with intelligence agencies readying additional evidence about last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack and high-ranking U.S. officials declaring there was “no doubt” that Bashar Assad‘s government was to blame.

Administration officials also said Assad’s actions posed a direct threat to U.S. national security, providing President Barack Obama with a potential legal justification for launching a strike without authorization from the United Nations or Congress. However, officials did not detail how the U.S. was directly threatened by an attack contained within Syria’s borders. Nor did they present concrete proof that Assad was responsible.

“Allowing the use of chemical weapons on a significant scale to take place without a response would present a significant challenge to, threat to the United States’ national security,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

The U.S. and international partners were unlikely to undertake military action before Thursday. That’s when British Prime Minister David Cameron will convene an emergency meeting of Parliament, where lawmakers were expected to vote on a motion clearing the way for a British response.

The prime minister’s office said Wednesday that it will put forward a resolution to the U.N. Security Council condemning the Syrian government for the alleged chemical attack.

Obama and Cameron spoke Tuesday, their second known conversation since the weekend. A Cameron spokesman said the two leaders agreed that a chemical attack had taken place, and that the Assad regime was responsible. Cameron “confirmed that the government had not yet taken a decision on the specific nature of our response, but that it would be legal and specific to the chemical weapons attack,” the spokesman said.

Also Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden became the highest-ranking U.S. official to charge that Assad’s government fired chemical weapons last week near Damascus. Assad has denied using chemical weapons, calling the allegations “preposterous.”

“There’s no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime,” Biden said.

Obama is weighing a response focused narrowly on punishing Assad for violating international agreements that ban the use of chemical weapons, an act the president repeatedly has said would cross a “red line.” Officials said the goal was not to drive the Syrian leader from power nor affect the broader trajectory of Syria’s bloody civil war, which is now in its third year.

“The options we are considering are not about regime change,” Carney told reporters.

According to U.S. officials, the most likely military operation would be largely sea-based, with the strikes coming primarily from Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea. Fighter jets often are deployed to monitor the area and protect the ships, but Syria’s robust air defense system makes airstrikes more difficult and risky.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said military forces stood ready to strike Syria immediately if the commander in chief gave the order. The Navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean within range of targets inside Syria and also has warplanes in the region.

“We are ready to go,” Hagel said in a BBC television interview Tuesday while traveling in Asia.

Ahead of any strike, the U.S. also planned to release additional intelligence it said would directly link Assad to the Aug. 21 attack in the Damascus suburbs. Syrian activists said hundreds of people were killed in the attack. A U.S. official said the intelligence report was expected to include “signals intelligence” — information gathered from intercepted communications.

All of the officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the internal deliberations.

Even before releasing that information, U.S. officials said they had very little doubt that Assad was culpable in the attack, based on witness reports, information on the number of victims and the symptoms of those killed or injured, and intelligence showing the Syrian government has not lost control of its chemical weapons stockpiles.

Other administration officials echoed Biden’s comments, which marked a subtle shift in the administration’s rhetoric on who bears responsibility for the attack. Earlier in the week officials would say only that there was “very little doubt” Assad was responsible.

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Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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8 Responses to "Laying groundwork for Syria strike"

  1. Keith  August 28, 2013 at 8:04 am

    This is all yet another example of poking our collective noses where it doesn’t belong.

    I find it fascinating that when hundreds of thousands of people in places like Rawanda are murdered by their governments (who are just as dead as if they were killed by chemical weapons) and the United States consistently turns a blind eye.

    But let something happen that MIGHT threaten the Government of Israel in any way and we must “do something”.

    Of course, that “something” remains a mystery…like what are we going to do AFTER we bomb their country back into the stone age in yet another attempt (a la Lybia) to “protect civilians”.

    And, oh, by the way… what about our OWN (secret) stockpile of chemical weaponry? Are we about to give all of them up in our righteous indignation about some OTHER country’s stockpiling and use of same?

    I’m not holding my breath.

    Unfortunately, this is yet one MORE (sorry) example of how the United States has become a country that projects everything that it is not, while condemning everything that it is.

    • SDRSr  August 28, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      As for our, The USs’, stockpile of chemical weapons, try a little research – Closing U.S. Chemical Warfare Agent Disposal Facilities,/a>

  2. SDRSr  August 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    ARGH, malformed url….

    Here is the link that should have been in the above post http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/demil/closing_facilities.htm

    • Keith  August 29, 2013 at 9:17 am

      As for our, The USs’, stockpile of chemical weapons, try a little research…”Closing U.S. Chemical Warfare Agent Disposal Facilities”

      I have.

      And if you REALLY believe that the US has now destroyed its ENTIRE stockpile of chemical weapons, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.

      You may recall that our friends in the US Air Force also told us back in the early 1990s that crews were no longer sitting alert in missile silos, either.

      Yet, now we learn that a bunch of them recently flunked their Nuclear Surety Inspections while sitting alert in those same silos.

      And with all of the NSA’s (up to now) “secret” snooping that’s been coming to light as of late, if you TRULY believe what the US Government now tells you in public that they have completely destroyed their stockpiles of chemical weaponry, then you have FAR more faith in what our US Government publicly reports about its activities than I do.

      I know, from being an integral part of that big bureaucracy for the better part of my working life, that what our US Government says in public and what’s REALLY going on behind the scenes are usually two VERY different things!

  3. Carl Nemo **==  August 28, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Seemingly if the MSM proclaims something to be true then it must be…no? / : |

    There is the possibility that CIA and Mossad operatives incited resistance/terrorist groups within Syria to detonate chemical weapons in order to create another ‘false flag’ styled op as an excuse to attack Syria. U.N. inspectors were/are in country when this happened. It doesn’t seem too plausible that the Syrian government would be foolish enough to incriminate themselves with such a heinous attack, but very plausible for those interested in public destabilization of a regime for military, financial and political gain.

    What’s stunning is the U.S. not being interested in acquiring either U.N. or at least a coalition approving such a strike. The administration now blustering “we’re going it alone if necessary”. Obviously our Congress has been sidelined permanently concerning the waging of war anywhere everywhere planet earth. The U.S. miitary has been degenerated into simply a SWAT op.

    We attacked Libya utilizing our NATO surrogate as a front for doing so.

    We’ve destabilized Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and now seemingly Syria too with our militant beligerancy.

    If our military ‘planners’ think this is a form of nation building then they are sorely mistaken.

    Their destabiliztion allows Islamic fundamentalists to seize hold of these weakened nations, Egypt being a prime example. When peoples are unemployed and starving or feel threatened then their religion provides them with comfort regardless of it simply being an illusion, thus they support that which is closest to their traditional roots; I.E., Islamic fundamentalism which is surely bad for Western interests.

    To put it simply I don’t trust our government in these ‘interesting times’ and haven’t since Oklahoma City, 911, the Iraq invasion to present. A gaggle of evil men and women have seized hold of the U.S. government.

    As long as there’s peace in the shopping malls of AmeriKa everything is aok…no?

    They have a plan for “We the People” and it’s a dark one indeed. Believe it…!

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Keith  August 29, 2013 at 9:35 am

      Obviously our Congress has been sidelined permanently concerning the waging of war anywhere everywhere planet earth. The U.S. military has been degenerated into simply a SWAT op.

      Bingo!

      You may recall that back during the regime of George W. Bush, US Military Doctrine was fundamentally changed from one of weathering a “first strike” and then retaliating to one of waging so-called “Wars of Pre-emption”.

      I also know that, at the time, a whole bunch of very senior military leaders (three and four star Generals) retired rather than implement such totally illegal (under international law), war-mongering policies.

      Sadly, as a direct result of such internationally criminal activity we’ve (as you rightly say) simply destabilized Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt and now seemingly Syria with our militant belligerency, all in the name of “spreading democracy”.

      Clearly, (and as you have also correctly noted) this “waging wars of pre-emption” approach has now totally backfired. The United States of America is no longer perceived in the world as a peace-loving nation.

      Rather, all we are now doing is creating oceans of odium against us, not to mention further inciting terrorist and other attacks against our nation (both at home and abroad) that we are (supposedly) trying to prevent.

  4. Carl Nemo **==  August 29, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I thought I’d supply readers with an extremely well written article as to why we’re headed in the wrong direction as a nation concerning intervention in the Syrian civil war.

    Situations can escalate quickly. Syria is extremely well armed courtesy of the former Soviet Union now the Russian Federation. They aren’t sporting ‘junk armaments but state of the art anti-ship missiles in their arsenal.

    It’s my concern that they are going to send some of our destroyers to the bottom more quickly than our ‘planners’ or lack thereof realize. Secondly there’s a high probability if this confrontation escalates the Syrian’s might throw a ‘hail mary’ pass predicated on a failing defense of their nation and launch a massive volley of IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missiles)on key Israeli cities regardless of Israel’s ability to counter attack. We would like to assume that the Syrian’s do not have tactical nukes, but one never knows for sure and they just might surprise Western tacticians with such. If this should happen then this regional conflict could escalate into WWIII with Russia and China finally euthanizing a now seemingly ‘mad dog’, rogue nation; I.E., the USA.

    I’m surely not one for standing down in the face of battle, but launching pre-emptive strikes on any nation without Congressional or U.N. support is tantamount to national aggression plain and simple.

    The upside is empty-headed Americans can watch WWIII unfold on their HDTV’s up to the last seconds of their consumeristic based existence on this plane.

    following linked article:

    “Twenty two reasons why starting WWIII in the Middle East is a bad idea” by Michael Snyder

    http://www.thetradingreport.com/2013/08/28/22-reasons-why-starting-world-war-3-in-the-middle-east-is-a-really-bad-idea/

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Keith  August 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Finally…FINALLY!…the “chinks in the armor” of the “Terrorist Industrial Complex” are starting to show.

      Indeed, the stunning defeat of Prime Minister David Cameron’s war mongering resolution against a mlitary attack on Syria in the British Parliament and the subsequent “wait just a minute” calls from our own US Congress, it would now appear that the public in both countries (as expressed through their elected representatives) are beginning to reject George W. Bush’s inspired “Wars of Pre-emption” foreign policy.

      All I can say is that it’s about bloody time!

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