US intel officials tell me and @KimberlyDozier that Syria intel's no slam dunk despite Obama remarks. Cant link WMD attack directly to Assad—
Matt Apuzzo (@mattapuzzo) August 29, 2013
Matt Apuzzo is an Associated Press investigative reporter. Tonight he took to Twitter to raise doubts about the evidence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad to a nerve gas attack that reportedly killed more than 1,000 people east of Damascus on August 21. There’s no smoking gun, Apuzzo says.
From the AP story linked above:
President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared unequivocally that the United States has “concluded” that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians. Yet U.S. intelligence officials say questions remain about whether the attack could be linked to Syrian President Bashar Assad or high officials in his government.
More intelligence was being sought by U.S. officials. While a lower-level Syrian military commanders’ communications discussing a chemical attack had been intercepted, they don’t specifically link the attack to an official senior enough to tie the killings to Assad himself, according to one U.S. intelligence official and two other U.S. officials.
From the NY Times story linked above:
American officials said Wednesday there was no “smoking gun” that directly links President Bashar al-Assad to the attack, and they tried to lower expectations about the public intelligence presentation. They said it will not contain specific electronic intercepts of communications between Syrian commanders or detailed reporting from spies and sources on the ground.
But even without hard evidence tying Mr. Assad to the attack, administration officials asserted, the Syrian leader bears ultimate responsibility for the actions of his troops and should be held accountable.
“The commander in chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership,” said the State Department’s deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf — even if, she added, “He’s not the one who pushes the button or says ‘go’ on this.”
From the Foreign Policy article:
With the United States barreling toward a strike on Syria, U.S. officials say they are completely certain that Bashar al-Assad’s government is responsible for last week’s chemical weapons attack. They just don’t know who in the Syrian government is to blame.
On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf admitted as much. “The commander-in-chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership, even if … he’s not the one that pushes the button or said, ‘Go,’ on this,” Harf said. “I don’t know what the facts are here. I’m just, broadly speaking, saying that he is responsible for the actions of his regime. I’m not intimately familiar with the command and control structure of the Syrian military. I’m just not. But again, he is responsible ultimately for the decisions that are made.“
Curious logic, that.
"admin. officials asserted, the Syrian leader bears ultimate responsibility for the actions of his troops.." – Interesting precedent to set—
GregorydJohnsen (@gregorydjohnsen) August 29, 2013