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'Washington Post' Joins McClatchy in Questioning Obama's Claims on Syria | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

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'Washington Post' Joins McClatchy in Questioning Obama's Claims on Syria


A member of a rebel group called the Martyr Al-Abbas throws a handmade weapon in Aleppo, June 11, 2013. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)

I’ve warned for weeks that the claims of use of chemical agents by the Assad side in Syria were incredibly sketchy but would be used as an excuse for stepping up US intervention. Of course, this happened last week with the statements from the White House. For too long, our friends at McClatchy were virtually alone in the US media in seriously questioning the claims (repeating their role in the run-up to Iraq war). Michael Gordon, Judy Miller’s old writing partner, co-authored the New York Times pieces that highlighted the “evidence.”

But at least a few critics expressed strong skepticism. Now The Washington Post is belatedly joining them.

As the famed weapons inspector David Kay says, “You’d be an idiot if you didn’t approach this thing with a bit of caution.” Well, as we’ve seen, there are plenty of “idiots” around. Here’s an excerpt from the Post:

Despite months of laboratory testing and scrutiny by top U.S. scientists, the Obama administration’s case for arming Syria’s rebels rests on unverifiable claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people, according to diplomats and experts.

The United States, Britain and France have supplied the United Nations with a trove of evidence, including multiple blood, tissue and soil samples, that U.S. officials say proves that Syrian troops used the nerve agent sarin on the battlefield. But the nature of the physical evidence—as well as the secrecy over how it was collected and analyzed—has opened the administration to criticism by independent experts, who say there is no reliable way to assess its authenticity.

And the key point:

“If you are the opposition and you hear” that the White House has drawn a red line on the use of nerve agents, then “you have an interest in giving the impression that some chemical weapons have been used,” said Rolf Ekeus, a Swedish scientist who headed up U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq during the 1990s.

Rumor has it that a tan and rested Colin Powell, a major Obama backer these days, is warming up in the bullpen, awaiting the call for another UN selling job.

Are you concerned about US intervention in Syria? So are we. Nation Editor and Publisher Katrina vanden Huevel and Nation contributor Stephen Cohen joined All In with Chris Hayes to demand on “off-ramp” to escalating US engagement in Syria.

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