Sometimes a suicide bombing is a bad thing—see, for instance, the apparent suicide attack in Bulgaria that killed Israeli tourists—and sometimes it’s a good thing, or at least not so bad, according to the State Department, when it comes to an Al Qaeda–style attack against leaders of the Syrian government.
And sometimes bombmakers who construct “Iranian style” IEDs called “explosively formed penetrators” are bad guys, says the New York Times, and sometimes they’re, well, heroic and have nothing at all to do with Iran.
Let’s look first at the State Department’s press briefing yesterday, where Patrick Ventrell, the spokesman, almost endorsed the terrorist attack that killed Syria’s defense minister and other senior officials. In persistent questioning, reporters couldn’t get Ventrell to say whether the bombing was a “good thing” or a “bad thing.” From the transcript:
MR. VENTRELL: [W]e note reports that the Syrian defense minister and other regime officials were killed in an attack today in Damascus. The United States does not welcome further bloodshed in Syria. We note, however, that these men were key architects of the Assad regime’s assault on the Syrian people.
We also recognize that, even as the media is focused on the deaths of these senior officials, dozens more civilians were killed today throughout Syria. As we’ve been predicting for some time, the Assad regime’s desperate attempts to cling to power will only lead to further chaos and suffering, underscoring the urgency of a political transition. It is past time for the UN Security Council to stand up and put the full weight of its support behind the Annan plan to facilitate that transition and an immediate end to violence.
And with that, I will turn it over to you for questions.
QUESTION: Well, this wasn’t a good thing? Is that what you’re saying?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, Matt, we’ve been clear throughout that what we’re focused on is a political transition. We don’t want further bloodshed.
QUESTION: So this is a bad thing?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, having said that, these are individuals who had perpetrated and were key architects of the extreme violence against the Syrian people.
QUESTION: So it’s a good thing?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, we’re still getting more information about what happened. This happened just today. We’ve seen some of the initial reports. We’re getting reports from some of our contacts and others on the ground, but at this point—we’re still looking for information at this point.
QUESTION: Well, yeah. But I want to know whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing.
MR. VENTRELL: The United States does not want to see further violence in Syria. What we want to see is a transition.
QUESTION: So that would suggest that it’s a bad thing, but then you say—come back and say that these people are responsible for the deaths of lots of innocent civilians, so that would suggest that you think it’s a good thing.
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I’m—you’re trying to put words in my mouth. I’ve characterized it—