House intel chair: It’s time to remove Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities

posted at 2:41 pm on March 20, 2013 by Allahpundit

The U.S. ambassador to Syria says there’s no evidence that chemical weapons were used yesterday. Via NRO, Israel’s minister of intelligence says it’s “apparently clear” that they were used. As you’ll see below, Mike Rogers, who’s probably the best informed Republican pol in the government right now on intel matters, agrees with him. But at least one weapons expert does not:

There are no images of the site of the attack; just of some affected people. These people do not show outward symptoms of a CW attack. Definitely not mustard; definitely not a nerve agent.

There are far too many people, including non-medical staff, around the affected persons. Apart from a surgical mask, nobody wears any protective garment or gas masks. If there would have been a CW attack with one of the agents known (or believed) to be in Syria’s arsenal, then most of the people present would have been fatally or seriously contaminated…

Present-day battlefields are extremely toxic. Many materials may be propelled into the air and inhaled by bystanders. If some (toxic) chemical container were hit by a shell, then bystanders could be badly affected, as we have seen in a variety of recent internal conflicts (former Yugoslavia; Sri Lanka; Iraq; etc.).

The same expert, as well as several U.S. officials, say it’s highly unlikely that the rebels were responsible for any chemical attack. Not so, says Russia, which has been Assad’s most stalwart supporter throughout the war (apart from Iran, of course); they’re backing the regime’s claim that chemicals were in fact used and that the rebels were in fact responsible, which may be Moscow’s desperate attempt to plant enough doubt in the west about culpability to get the U.S. and NATO to think twice about intervening now. Complicating all of this is the fact that, even if a chemical agent was used, it might not have been lethal by design. Remember the last scare story about gas being used in Syria, replete with several fatalities? The culprit in that case was, allegedly, a nonlethal compound known as Agent 15 (or something very similar). Agent 15 is an incapacitating agent, not a weapon of death, although apparently fatalities are possible in cases of extremely adverse reaction. Is that what happened here? Assad’s side fired off something built for crowd control but, either because the space was confined or because the agent itself wasn’t processed properly, it ended up killing some of the targets?

One of the odder elements in the reports of Syrian chemical weapons use since December is that the death toll in each instance hasn’t been very high. They’re supposed to be weapons of mass destruction, but the destruction in each case is comparable to a car bomb. If you’re Assad and you’re prepared to finally take the plunge on WMD, knowing what it will mean for western intervention, why would you limit your initial use to a small-scale attack? If the price of using gas is the U.S. Air Force bombing your palace and your military bases, you should want to make the most of your first strike by using it to try to significantly weaken the opposition, no? And yet we haven’t seen that, although Rogers is clearly worried about it. Let me re-pose a question from yesterday’s post, too: If U.S. intervention is the chief deterrent against Assad using WMDs, what happens if we take Rogers’s advice and intervene now over a dubious incident yesterday in Aleppo? What’s left at that point to deter Assad from unloading his chemical weapons arsenal? As things stand now, there’s some small chance he’ll end up as the ruler of an Alawite enclave inside what’s currently known as Syria per a negotiated settlement. If the west commits to attacking him as an WMD outlaw, that possibility is gone; they’ll have to pursue him to the end, partly to save face and partly as an example to other regimes that using WMD means signing your own death warrant. And Assad knows that, so again — if we send in bombers to take out his weapons, what incentive does he have at that point not to use whichever weapons end up surviving the initial bombing run?

As further reading, here’s a nice WaPo piece about how our de facto allies in the Syrian opposition are busy imposing sharia in territories they control. One of the strongholds of the jihadist forces inside the rebel ranks is Aleppo, the same city where the rebels were accused by Assad’s spokesman of using chemical weapons yesterday.

Update: True:


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Why let any facts get in the way of another place to flex the American War Machine?

belad on March 20, 2013 at 2:45 PM

WMD’s! we must make the world safe for democracy!

bannor on March 20, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. – Matthew 5:9

myiq2xu on March 20, 2013 at 2:46 PM

He misspoke, he meant to say “It’s time to improve Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities”

This would be the WH position on the matter.

Oh, wait. House Intel.

Never mind.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2013 at 2:46 PM

OT – maybe the kids get their wishes.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2013 at 2:49 PM

In Syria all are the enemies of the US.

However, Obama owns the Arab’spring’, in full.

Schadenfreude on March 20, 2013 at 2:50 PM

The bottom line is that you can not believe anything our government says, let alone take it at face value.

VorDaj on March 20, 2013 at 2:51 PM

WMD’s! we must make the world safe for from democracy!

Barry and Co.s actual goal.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2013 at 2:52 PM

It would be a good exercise for the French AF.

Limerick on March 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Just leave Syria alone. Quit trying to dig up neocon rationalizations for another pointless intervention. An intervention that could be costly and dangerous, and diminiish our international goodwill. Let the Dems lead the way if they want to make asses of themselves. But put McCain on our bench.

anotherJoe on March 20, 2013 at 2:55 PM

As further reading, here’s a nice WaPo piece about how our de facto allies in the Syrian opposition are busy imposing sharia in territories they control.

And that sunrises anyone with an IQ in the least?

VorDaj on March 20, 2013 at 2:56 PM

The U.S. ambassador to Syria says there’s no evidence that chemical weapons were used yesterday.

And America’s President, top diplomat, and top diplomat at the UN spent days telling us that the attack at Benghazi was based on outrage over a YouTube video. How are we supposed to believe anything this administration tells us about foreign affairs?

Happy Nomad on March 20, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Self-illuminating parking lots have no chemical-weapon capabilities. Just sayin’.

Archivarix on March 20, 2013 at 2:59 PM

The U.S. ambassador to Syria says there’s no evidence that chemical weapons were used yesterday. Via NRO, Israel’s minister of intelligence says it’s “apparently clear” that they were used.

Somebody lied? Somebody died?

joejm65 on March 20, 2013 at 3:01 PM

This calls for the UN to bust out the Strongly Worded Letters… (SWLs)

wytshus on March 20, 2013 at 3:02 PM

we’ve been down this road before, when you have congressmen banging the war drums with little or nothing backing up their claims. my answer is NO WAY. stay out of it.

exceller on March 20, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Self-illuminating parking lots have no chemical-weapon capabilities. Just sayin’.

Archivarix on March 20, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Iraq and Afghan should have been level self-illuminating parking lots for years now. We do need to pare down our nuclear arsenal anyway…

riddick on March 20, 2013 at 3:07 PM

This calls for the UN to bust out the Strongly Worded Letters… (SWLs)

wytshus on March 20, 2013 at 3:02 PM

I am sure that Israel is about to receive one of those.

riddick on March 20, 2013 at 3:08 PM

We definitely need to invade another Muslim country and give them all the purple finger at voting time. They all crave democracy and will use it wisely.

a capella on March 20, 2013 at 3:14 PM

And that sunrises anyone with an IQ in the least?

VorDaj on March 20, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Only in the East, only in the East.

RickB on March 20, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Somewhat interesting that Rogers is willing to go this far. He’s rumored to be wanting the MI Senate seat that is opening up now that Levin is retiring. And Rep. Amash, who is no fan of Sens. McCain and Graham, and is rumored to be in the running as well, will likely beat against the hawks.

schmitty on March 20, 2013 at 3:16 PM

WMDs indeed! The media whores were careful to pretend that cache of sarin / VX wasn’t found on the Basra road during the Iraq War.

Ogabe’s Peace Prize looks more like Arafat’s with each passing day. Meanwhile Ogabe’s limo breaks down in Israel… what irony.

viking01 on March 20, 2013 at 3:21 PM

They’ve been killing each other with conventional weapons for ages now, and these guys want to get involved over some sketchy claims of chemicals maybe being used? And do what on behalf of whom?

The answer is no.

forest on March 20, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Somewhat interesting that Rogers is willing to go this far. He’s rumored to be wanting the MI Senate seat that is opening up now that Levin is retiring. And Rep. Amash, who is no fan of Sens. McCain and Graham, and is rumored to be in the running as well, will likely beat against the hawks.

schmitty on March 20, 2013 at 3:16 PM

…yep!

KOOLAID2 on March 20, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Bang that war drum! Bang it hard!

LincolntheHun on March 20, 2013 at 3:23 PM

With Obowma’s ‘Rules of Engagement’ stating that” the future does not belong to those who insult the profit of Islam”…

… Just exactly what do you think he will do?

I wouldn’t doubt Obwoma would put our troops in harms way, without the necessary means to defend themselves, just long enough for chemical weapons to be used on them, and then blame the Republicans and sequestration for their deaths…

Seven Percent Solution on March 20, 2013 at 3:29 PM

How about we mind our own business.

MoreLiberty on March 20, 2013 at 3:45 PM

No thanks. Maybe the House “intel” chair should go do it himself and let us know how it goes. I’ll chip in for his ticket.

FloatingRock on March 20, 2013 at 4:03 PM

My give a shirt meter didn’t twitch.

Call me when they run out, hey where’d they get ‘em from anyway?

Wander on March 20, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Proof once again that Intelligence and Congressman should never be used in the same sentence.

Ted Torgerson on March 20, 2013 at 4:26 PM

House intel chair: It’s time to remove Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities

Mind your own business. Besides, when Saddam had this stuff you Leftists didn’t think it dangerous at all, so why should Assad having it be dangerous?

Of course, it’s because you Communists support Al-Qaeda (for now anyway) and want to help them out.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 20, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Stop believing what you see on TV, you dopes.

Akzed on March 20, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Congressman Mike Rogers sounds like a dimwitted dem/repub without a clue as to the misdirection coming from our intelligence agencies and the Defense Department….at the behest of BHO! Get a grip, Mike!

tomshup on March 20, 2013 at 4:51 PM

You mean Saddam’s chemical weapons, that didn’t exist?

Speakup on March 20, 2013 at 5:34 PM

You mean Saddam’s chemical weapons, that didn’t exist?

Speakup on March 20, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Remember back in the late 1990s, when 99% of the claims coming out of Washington that Iraq had those weapons came out of the mouths of Democrats?

Most of them got collective amnesia just a few years later, solely for political “gain”, although a few stood by their words.

Del Dolemonte on March 20, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Most of them got collective amnesia just a few years later, solely for political “gain”, although a few stood by their words.

Del Dolemonte on March 20, 2013 at 6:28 PM

You are correct and the amazing thing is the UN sent inspectors to Iraq to check on them before the invasion!

After the invasion all those WMDs the UN had been monitoring had vanished. Several credible reports described them being shipped off to Syria.

We need to stay OUT of Syria.

dogsoldier on March 20, 2013 at 6:41 PM

You mean Saddam’s chemical weapons, that didn’t exist?

Speakup on March 20, 2013 at 5:34 PM

…shhhhhhhhhh!

KOOLAID2 on March 20, 2013 at 8:13 PM