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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Updates: Evidence on Syria Far From 'Slam Dunk'

Thursday Updates:   Surprisingly tough AP report today, based on intel sources, that evidence re: chem attack far from a "slam dunk," huge gaps in evidence and even:  "The complicated intelligence picture raises questions about the White House's full-steam-ahead approach to the Aug. 21 attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb, with worries that the attack could be tied to al-Qaida-backed rebels later."  And: "The uncertainty calls into question the statements by Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden."

UN finishing probe in Syria and, surprise (to some), promises some sort of report Saturday.  Turns out, as we warned, the pundits and official and unofficial U.S. sources were wrong (and probably knew it) this week--evidence of attack was NOT that degraded and it is NOT taking weeks for some kind of testing and assessment. 

UPDATE  NYT tonight with a kind of shocker--after much fulminating and bloviating, it now appears the big White House intel report slamming Assad tomorrow may be very limited, and suddenly they are trying to lower expectations.   Paper notes Colin Powell's UN presentation on Iraq as bad role model.

Earlier: As usual, the great Amy Davidson at The New Yorker nails it.   UPDATE  John Cassidy, another New Yorker "old reliable," adds his warnings there.  James Fallows joins in here.
As of Wednesday afternoon, eighty-eight members of Congress had signed a letter put together by Scott Rigell, a Virginia Republican with a lot of service members in his district, asking Obama to reconvene them and get authorization for any attack. Most of those who signed on were Republicans, but not all of them. Obama could do so if he wanted to. John Boehner could also bring back the House, and Harry Reid the Senate; it would be a mistake not to.
What is the disadvantage of going to Congress? That they are loud and annoying and someone will try to introduce a resolution tying action in Syria to Obamacare? If the Administration can’t stand up to Ted Cruz, it can hardly hope to frighten Bashar al-Assad. And if going to Congress now feels time-consuming, how does it compare to the hours, days, weeks, and sanity expended on the Benghazi hearings?

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