An AP report out this afternoon sheds doubt on the Obama administration’s claims that the intelligence linking the leadership of the Syrian regime to the chemical weapons attack is a “slam dunk.” In fact, some US intelligence officers can not even be sure that the attack wasn’t perpetrated by rebel forces.
President Barack Obama declared unequivocally Wednesday that the Syrian government was responsible, while laying the groundwork for an expected U.S. military strike.“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out,” Obama said in an interview with “NewsHour” on PBS. “And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences.” […]
An intercept of Syrian military officials discussing the strike was among low-level staff, with no direct evidence tying the attack back to an Assad insider or even a senior Syrian commander, the officials said.
So while Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that it was “undeniable,” a chemical weapons attack had occurred, and that it was carried out by the Syrian military, U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. That suspicion was not included in the official intelligence report, according to the official who described the report.
“Suggestions that there is any doubt about who is responsible about this are as preposterous as suggestions that the attack itself didn’t occur,” Carney said.