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Friday, August 30, 2013

Kerry on Syria

My report on his address just now, as it happened, starting at 12:59.  Full document from White House now out.

--Releasing unclassified findings.  "As clear as they are compelling...I'm not asking you to take my word for it.  Read for yourself" from "thousands of sources." Assad regime inflicted it.  "Our intelligence community" probed and "it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience.  We will not repeat that moment." So releasing lot for you to judge.  But some only to be released to Congress.  "So some things we know we cannot talk about publicly."

--So what do we know?  Assad has largest store of chem weapons and has "used them multiple times this year," though on lower scale.   And we know they wanted to rid suburbs of rebels.  And know they had people "on ground preparing for this" three days before.  And "we know" where rockets launched and when and where they landed.  And "we know" as does the world that "all hell broke loose in the social media."   Thousands of reports from 11 sites. And reports from doctors.

--At least more than 1400 killed including 426 children.   "This is the indiscriminate horror of chemical weapons...this is what Assad did to his own people."   And we confirmed a "senior official" knew this.  Kerry personally asked them to let UN in but they bombed area instead for four days.   When UN inspectors finally gained access it was "restricted and controlled" [he does not mention that it was partly or largely by the rebels].

--Repeatedly says "we know" and "these are the facts."  So only question is "what to do." Refers to "consequences" and "red line" and treaties.  "It matters to OUR security" and Israel and other friends who "live just a stiff breeze from Damascus."  They need to know where chem weapons are.

--Matters to our security to do something because everyone "watching" if our word means anything and if Syria "can get away with it"--and so maybe they too can get away with bad stuff.  "What is the risk of doing nothing?"   Live in world where "thug" like Assad gasses own people and we do nothing?  So risk from others then.  Mentions Iran getting nukes, Hezbollah, North Korea. Keep mentions "stopping" Assad from future use [is this possible? no].

--Answers question of "who we are.  We are the United States of America."   This "crime against conscience, against humanity...this matters to us.  Matters to who we are, and to leadership, and our credibility in the world.  It matters if nothing is done.  It matters if world speaks out in condemnation and nothing done."  Cites others speaking out (but none of them taking action, BTW).  Mentions our "oldest ally, the French"--what a switch.

--"What will we do?  President Obama believes in the United Nations."  And great respect for the inspectors.  But UN will not affirm who used the weapons. "The UN can't tell you anything we haven't already shared with you and that we already know."  But we'll keep talking to Congress, our allies and public.  But Obama "will make decision based on our OWN interests."   We are all tired of war but 'fatigue" does not absolve us.

--No "boots on the ground," limited and tailored "to insure that a despot's use of chemical weapons is held responsible."  But also committed to "diplomacy" and "political" and "deeply committed to getting there."   No regime change. Ends, 17 minutes long.

Wolf Blitzer: No doubt know we will launch, but when?  "Fairly soon" all agree.  And CNN switches to amped-up war coverage with generals and experts on board talking about targets, number of missiles, etc.

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