White House acknowledges Syria may have gassed its peopleby Laura Green | April 25th, 2013
The White House declassified intelligence today that indicated the Syrian government likely gassed its people.
The revelation is important not only on humanitarian terms. It could spark the beginning of a more robust intervention on the part of the United States. President Barack Obama has said he would drawn a “red line” and not tolerate the Assad regime using biological weapons on the Syrian people.
The White House said it has what it called “physiological” evidence that sarin gas was used. It is now seeking United Nations assistance to prove it was the Assad government that used it. The country is in the midst of a civil war.
“It’s precisely because we take the red line seriously that we feel there has to be a clear, factual evidence (basis) for our decision,” said a White House official in a background call with reporters this afternoon.
“Given our own history with intelligence assessments, including intelligence assessments related to WMD (weapons of mass destruction), it is very important that we are able to establish this with certainty.”
Obama is trying to avoid the kind of intelligence gaffe he believes led the nation into war in Iraq.
Already Obama is being pressured by both Republicans and Democrats to commit to military intervention.
“It’s clear the ‘red line’ drawn by President Obama has now been crossed. The time for passive engagement in this conflict must come to an end,” Sen. Marco Rubio said in a press release.
He urged the removal of Assad, whom he called “a tyrant who has been murdering his own people for more than two years, while threatening regional stability.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said it was clear the red line had been crossed.
“I am very concerned that with this public acknowledgement, President Assad may calculate he has nothing more to lose and the likelihood he will further escalate this conflict therefore increases. It is also important that the world understands the use of weapons of mass destruction, such as sarin, will not be countenanced, and clearly Assad must go,” she said.