Release of the long-awaited US government intelligence dossier on the alleged chemical attack in Syria on Aug. 21, had been moved and postponed until the media black-hole of a Friday afternoon before a big US holiday weekend.
Now we see why.
Here is the crux of the White House argument for war on Syria:
A chemical attack took place. Trust us. Someone (the Israelis) told us they tapped a call where two Syrian government officials talked about the attack in an incriminating way. Trust us. The Syrian government was moving troops around in a way that suggested they were about to launch a chemical attack. Trust us. More than 1,400 people were killed even though at most a couple of dozen were seem in the videos that purported to be of the attack. Never mind, trust us. We watched a lot of YouTube videos of people who seemed to be suffering from a chemical weapons attack. Trust us.
The administration's conclusions on this are reached with "high confidence" which is "the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation," Nevertheless, the dossier hedged, "[w]e will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place."
Wait a minute! That does not sound all that convincing. You are telling us that you assess this with "highest confidence" but still have plenty of gaps? And you cannot confirm it? That sounds like a guess. We are going to go to war on a guess?
The Administration continued: "We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely." Wait, that doesn't sound very confident either. "Highly unlikely" based on what? Evidence? Logic? A good guess? All they will say is "trust us."
"Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21."
OK, can you give us some specifics? How about a quote, a picture, anything?
"We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure."
Hmmm, that last part seems interesting. So you are saying that they seem like they are the result of exposure to some kind of nerve agent but it could be something else? Like tear gas, or some kind of backyard manufactured agent -- or perhaps a "gift" to the opposition from Saudi Arabia?
"We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs..."
So you are admitting that they have fabricated some of them? What percentage, exactly, do you believe they have fabricated? Can you give us some hint of what an opposition fabricated video looks like versus a bona fide video? What are the key characteristic differences? Oh, you can't tell us?
No specific evidence. Not a single fact that could be independently verified. Only a promise and a plea to "trust us." At least with Secretary Powell we got a dog and pony show with dramatic (but unbeknownst to the Secretary faked) satellite photos of "mobile chemical weapons labs."
"[T]here is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners."
So...you can't show us any of the evidence. It's too secret for us to see. But...trust us.
Do you trust them?
In fact, even if everything in this "dodgy dossier" is true, it changes nothing. The US has no business at all bombing Syria with Tomahawk missiles to "send a message" as the president has suggested. Even if the UN comes back with overwhelming evidence of Syrian government involvement in using ghastly means to root out the US-funded radical jihadists seeking to overthrow the secular Assad regime -- which is supported by the country's Christian community -- it means nothing. Even if 50% plus one Members of Congress votes to give authorization it means nothing. We should not bomb Syria, period. We should stop supporting Christian-murdering jihadists in Syria. Period. The mad men and women populating Obama's administration should be shamed out of their jobs forever.
This is not our war.