Here we go: Hagel says U.S. has “some degree” of confidence that Assad has used chemical weapons; Update: Two attacks? Update: Multiple blood samples?

posted at 12:05 pm on April 25, 2013 by Allahpundit

We all knew, or should have known, that it was coming. And now here it is:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the Syrian regime has likely used chemical weapons on a “small scale.”

Hagel was speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi. He says the White House has informed members of Congress that, within the last day, U.S. intelligence concluded with “some degree of varying confidence” that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons — specifically sarin gas.

Hagel says, quote, “It violates every convention of warfare.”

How’d we get to the point where the White House is saying this out loud, knowing that it’ll bring down a mountain of heat on Obama to enforce his WMD “red line”? Partly, I think, because Britain and especially Israel have been increasingly vocal about evidence of chemical weapon use in Syria. It’s one thing to pretend nothing’s going on, it’s another thing to pretend when other credible western intel outfits are saying something’s up. The other part of the equation is congressional interventionists, led of course by McCain, seizing on the British and IDF reports to put O on the spot. McCain sent him a letter last night co-signed by seven other senators asking for a U.S. intelligence assessment of whether Assad’s gone to the gas. Presumably that’s what got Hagel talking this morning.

So that means we’re going in, in one fashion or another, right? Well, wait:

Does that mean U.S. intelligence isn’t confident enough yet, or does it mean that even if they’re 99 percent sure, we’re not making a move until there’s a smoking gun, i.e. a much larger attack for which there’s no plausible deniability? Alternate headline: “White House really, really reluctant to intervene in Syria.”

I’m hearing rumors on Twitter that the White House has formally replied to McCain’s letter but I can’t find a copy yet, assuming it exists. Stand by for updates. While we wait, read this report from the Times of Israel that tries to answer the question I posed yesterday. Did the IDF announce its conclusions about chemical weapons usage in Syria as some sort of gaffe (wasn’t that information classified?) or deliberately, to put more public pressure on Obama to respond? TOI’s verdict: Quite possibly a gaffe. Does Israel really benefit by having the U.S. intervene in Syria on the side that harbors lots and lots of Israel-hating jihadists? Why further alienate/annoy Obama by putting him on the spot just to help a bunch of armed Salafis?

Update: What does the White House mean when it says it’s preparing for contingencies? Read this if you missed it last week.

Update: Per John Kerry, they crossed the red line not once but twice:

Update: There is indeed a letter to McCain from the White House this morning. Key grafs:

p1p2p3

The point about the chain of custody is totally fair. Syria’s rebels have an interest in making it look like a chemical attack happened even if it didn’t. Thanks to Obama’s “red line” blather, a soil sample showing sarin or some other nerve agent is the quickest path to getting the west to intervene. As for the rest of it, I don’t know how else to read it except as a message to Assad that as long as he keeps the attacks small and plausibly deniable, there won’t be any major action. You may well see some sort of covert small-scale action in response to what we’ve already found. Those U.S. military trainers are in Jordan for a reason, don’tcha know.

Update: A lot better than a soil sample:

The U.S. intelligence community has uncovered strong evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. Several blood samples, taken from multiple people, have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, an American intelligence source tells Danger Room. President Obama has long said that the use of such a weapon by the Assad regime would cross a “red line.” So now the question becomes: what will the White House do in response?…

“This is more than one organization representing that they have more than one sample from more than one attack,” the source tells Danger Room. “But we can’t confirm anything because no is really sure what’s going on in country.”…

“It would be very, very difficult for the opposition to fake this. Not only would they need the wherewithal to steal it or brew it up themselves. Then they’d need volunteers who would notionally agree to a possibly lethal exposure,” the source adds.


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Well Tartar, this time it is warranted. Karl de Grosse is the parent of an adult son who doesn’t need dad telling him what he can and cannot do.

I have a friend who was told that he needed to go to an Ivy League school and be a doctor like the rest of the family. He wanted to go the State University so he could take ROTC. His parents told him well it’s Harvard or you get nothing. He enlisted in the Air Force instead. Worked out well for him but his parents gained his emnity and did not force him to make their choice.

jerryofva on April 25, 2013 at 1:57 PM

A Mel Brooks’ film presidency.

rogerb on April 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM

If we attack, are we at war with Hezbelloah as well?

rob verdi on April 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM

I’m sure with Russia’s permission (Putin), President Obama will make a decision soon. Personally, I agree with most, why fight a war for people who despise our way of life.

DDay on April 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM

The only thing Obama knows about red lines dates back to his choom days.

Don’t eat yellow snow.

Never snort a red line.

coldwarrior on April 25, 2013 at 1:51 PM

I thought it was the brown acid that we were supposed to avoid?

Chris of Rights on April 25, 2013 at 2:03 PM

McCain and his pocket weasel, Ms. Lindsey, want war, even if the sewquester ‘can’t afford it’.

Fools, all in Syria are the enemies of the US.

Biden looking into anti-gun executive order options.

Schadenfreude on April 25, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Fools, all in Syria are the enemies of the US.

But not of Barry and certain members of the Senate, evidently.

hawkeye54 on April 25, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Personally, I agree with most, why fight a war for people who despise our way of life.

Possibly for giving support to the MB for yet another islamic state government, a new way to grind down our military, and also another huge wave of muslim immigrants coming here on preferred status, no questons asked, escaping the warfare, once we’re directly involved, and accepting our gracious hospitality provided gratis from our benevolent government.

hawkeye54 on April 25, 2013 at 2:13 PM

OT, but I want to know what all of those people whining about Bush encroaching upon civil liberties think of this: http://reason.com/blog/2013/04/24/to-ease-internet-snooping-feds-promise-t

Chris of Rights on April 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM

the msdnc anchors have gotten their WH talking points…No red line has been crossed despite what the maverick has said….

yada yada yada

cmsinaz on April 25, 2013 at 2:21 PM

But, but,but…

How could Syria use WMDs they got from Saddam Hussein if Saddam Hussein never had WMDs?

viking01 on April 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM

the msdnc anchors have gotten their WH talking points…No red line has been crossed despite what the maverick has said….

cmsinaz on April 25, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Meh. The only red line for Syria is its border. They can kill each other all they want inside so long as it doesn’t spill into Israel. The minute their fighting goes outside of their borders, Israel should bomb everyone in Syria.

I know Israel won’t do that, but that’s how it should be. The US, of course, has no role in anything about Syria. The dems did enough with their criminal Congressional foreign relations junket to Damascus to announce that assad was “a real reformer”. Those Congressional dipsh!ts never should have been allowed back in America.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on April 25, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Before we go in, I’d like to know, who, exactly was gassed? Are we going in to protect assets of AQ? Or some other jihadists that would just as soon behead us as call in an airstrike? ‘Cause… I’m not really concerned how bad those types are choking.

BKeyser on April 25, 2013 at 2:33 PM

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on April 25, 2013 at 2:31 PM

hear ya

cmsinaz on April 25, 2013 at 2:36 PM

When it’s time to make some dedication to Obama after he is out of office, I hope we have a Tea Party president who goes into something like, “Despite bad policies, gross errors and miscalculations, and misguided practices of the past, America is now well on the road to becoming the great Nation our Founders hoped us to be.”

Liam on April 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Sounds like a job for Rick Perry.

monalisa on April 25, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Let it Burn.

HumpBot Salvation on April 25, 2013 at 2:38 PM

No red line has been crossed despite what the maverick has said….

yada yada yada

cmsinaz on April 25, 2013 at 2:21 PM

……That’s no red line. It is clearly magenta. And that other one was more of a burgundy. But when we get to the red line, well then Syria’s going to be sorry.

Happy Nomad on April 25, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Let Obowma dither…

… better than another Benghazi.

Seven Percent Solution on April 25, 2013 at 2:52 PM

To quote our esteemed (by idiots) former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

The Syrians, and the rest of the world, know that Barry is all talk. The only group for whom he is a serious threat are patriotic Americans.

AZCoyote on April 25, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Nobody batted an eyelash when Hussein (the Iraqi one, not ours) gassed all those Kurds. And the Left to this day still says Hussein (still that other guy) never had WMDs.

So, we should stay out of Syria. Unless they launch a strike at one of our warships or planes, we have no business being interventionist.

Liam on April 25, 2013 at 12:12 PM

If a pressure cooker is a WMD then it’s probably safe to say Iraq had at least one.

Wagthatdog on April 25, 2013 at 2:55 PM

The U.S. intelligence community has uncovered strong evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria

Translation:

They got it from the Israelis.

Ben Hur on April 25, 2013 at 3:11 PM

The exact quote was:

“We will constantly have prepared contingency planning for different scenarios within Syria,…”

MWT. (Mixed-Weasel-Tenses)

Tsar of Earth on April 25, 2013 at 3:16 PM

That’s terrible and awful and everything. Assad is a monster, etc. The problem is I just don’t care. After two decades of f–king with those people, I’ve reached the point where there is literally no atrocity one muslim can commit on another that will make me care.

We’ve spent trillions of dollars and shed thousands of lives and tens of thousands of limbs “helping” in these conflicts. They only try to kill us in return.

SAMinVA on April 25, 2013 at 3:19 PM

So…
o The government who had no Intel on the 2 Boston bombers & their plan despite the fact that the CIA & FBI were warned, despite the fact that they knew he spent 6-months in a Jihadist-saturated location in Russia, who KNEW one of them had a radical web site…

o The Govt that ‘did not find WMD’ in Iraq but CLAIMED they did now CLAIMS they KNOW (‘by verying degrees of confidence’)Syria is using WMD….

1) What does ‘by verying degrees of confidence’ even mean?

2) Obama swore use of chemical weapons was his ‘red line’ regarding Syria….if Obama gonna pull an ‘Iraq’ and take action against Syria & will Libs attack him for claiming they have used them when they might not have used them?

What is Obama to do?

easyt65 on April 25, 2013 at 3:42 PM

But, but,but…

How could Syria use WMDs they got from Saddam Hussein if Saddam Hussein never had WMDs?

viking01 on April 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM

I’m not saying Assad didn’t add to his collection by importing Sadaams stash, but the Syrians have had Chem/WMD’s longer than today’s anti-Bushites have been alive.

Ben Hur on April 25, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Translation: They got it from the Israelis.
– Ben Hur on April 25, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Where the H#LL did THAT come from? In case you haven’t noticed (or spent a bit of time studying) Syria has been Iran’s ‘toadie’ for a long, long time. The PLO/PLA/HAMAS etc have received weapons of all types from them for decades. The only ones keeping Assad in power right now is Iran.

easyt65 on April 25, 2013 at 3:45 PM

And what is this administration gonna do about it?

A sternly worded letter, perhaps?

Please.

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on April 25, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Must mean another vacay for The Mooch and her brood.

SouthernGent on April 25, 2013 at 4:38 PM

I’m not saying Assad didn’t add to his collection by importing Sadaams stash, but the Syrians have had Chem/WMD’s longer than today’s anti-Bushites have been alive.

Ben Hur on April 25, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Correct. Syria’s chem and bio programs have always been far more advanced than Iraq’s ever was. The many tons of stuff they got from Iraq at Russia’s behest was accepted reluctantly, was poor quality and was likely immediately buried deep.

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2013 at 4:49 PM

easyt65 on April 25, 2013 at 3:45 PM

He was talking about where the US (“they”) got its intelligence, not where Syria got its chem weapons from.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on April 25, 2013 at 4:54 PM

All I saw were photos and video of people with shaving cream smeared on their faces to look like foam. I kid you not.

Blake on April 25, 2013 at 5:56 PM

The REB said “I have made it clear that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a game-changer.”

This mostly affects the White House only, it means no more checkers with the kids, -tonight it’s Monopoly!

slickwillie2001 on April 25, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Andy McCarthy is right. There are black flags of Muslim jihad behind that red line. Stay out of it.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/346680/black-flags-behind-those-green-lines

onlineanalyst on April 25, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Here we go: Hagel says U.S. has “some degree” of confidence that Assad has used chemical weapons; Update: Two attacks? Update: Multiple blood samples?

Laughable.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 25, 2013 at 8:23 PM

“It would be very, very difficult for the opposition to fake this. Not only would they need the wherewithal to steal it or brew it up themselves. Then they’d need volunteers who would notionally agree to a possibly lethal exposure,” the source adds.

The kind of people we are likely to be helping here would have no problem with stealing it from the destroyed Libyan storehouses, nor would they lose any sleep over finding “volunteers”. Not that they couldn’t find a few 72-virgin-obscessed vols, it’s just that they probably wouldn’t feel the need to ask in the first place: “Hey, you three believers… go sit in that room over there for twenty minutes, and tell me if you feel anything funny. Oh, and Alahu Akbar to ya.”

bofh on April 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

So voting present all those years made politics easy for Obama. Sorry champ now there are consequences

jaywemm on April 25, 2013 at 11:30 PM

pretty sad affair.

ted c on April 25, 2013 at 11:38 PM

All these hollow threats towards Syria are making Obama sound like Kim Jong-un.

TheDriver on April 26, 2013 at 12:18 AM

Well, what does it matter?

claudius on April 26, 2013 at 1:09 AM

The only red line for Syria is its border.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on April 25, 2013 at 2:31 PM

If this is the excuse 0bama needs need to start dropping ordnance on Syrian positions, that’s good enough for me. The less the Syrians have to left to attack Israel with the better.

Unfortunately for the Syrians, that will mean more sarin spraying, not less. The regime would not use sarin unless they were desperate. Attacking them will make them more desperate. If we wanted to reduce the sarin use we would attack the rebels. Makes no difference to me.

pedestrian on April 26, 2013 at 1:16 AM

Don’t worry about doing anything Barry.

No one believes you have a spine.

itsspideyman on April 26, 2013 at 1:53 AM

“C’mon,Assad, ya’ll don’t want to call my bluff now. Can’t have ya doin’ that.”

The first Progressive President said “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

The latest Progressive president speaks loudly, often incorrectly, and apparently has a soft stick, if he has one at all.

coldwarrior on April 26, 2013 at 8:17 AM

The world laughs at us….. oba-mao’s mission is accomplished. We are marginalized. I hope he rots in Hell.

ultracon on April 26, 2013 at 8:49 AM

Muslim tyrant killing Muslims allied with Al Qaeda… hmmm… I don’t think we have a dog in that fight.

Akzed on April 26, 2013 at 9:31 AM

If this is the excuse 0bama needs need to start dropping ordnance on Syrian positions, that’s good enough for me. The less the Syrians have to left to attack Israel with the better. pedestrian on April 26, 2013 at 1:16 AM

Huh. So tell me,

A.) Why does “Israel” have a military?

B.) Why does the US have a military?

Don’t bother, I’ll do it for you:

A.) To protect “Israel”

B.) To protect “Israel”

Akzed on April 26, 2013 at 9:36 AM

“It violates every convention of warfare.”

Yet is was ok for the Clinton Regime to use nerve gas on our own citizens; the men, women and children of Waco.

Buttercup on April 26, 2013 at 12:10 PM

You have a brutal dictator fighting the jihadists of the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been successfully killing each other for centuries, please let them continue.

booger71 on April 28, 2013 at 2:23 AM

“some degree of confidence” from the mouth of Hagel, from which you have to subtract an enormous degree of credibility.

Soil-samples! Really! Maybe these will prove that Bush was right and the soil-samples show that Syria was handling Hussein’s sarin?

Spare us the phoney CSI details, Hagel. It’s a confection of lies where there ought to be some actual elaboration of US interests before another useless intervention into arab politics.

virgo on April 28, 2013 at 1:04 PM

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