Does anybody find this surprising? While President Barack Obama claimed he was “very proud” to pull back from the fictional “red line” he had with Syria, his administration made a false case to the American people about Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities.
Assad’s recent use of chemical weapons removed all doubt whether or not they still had them. Worse yet, the Obama administration likely knew Syria still had them. Sean Keeley over at The American Interest picked up on a strange quote from Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster:
And the one thing that I will tell you though, there was an effort to minimize – to minimize risk to third-country nationals at that airport – I think you read Russians from that – but that – and we took great pains to try to avoid that. […] And then there were also measures put in place to avoid hitting what we believe is a storage of sarin gas, so that that would not be ignited and cause a hazard to civilians or anyone else.
As anybody would, Keeley wonders if the Obama administration knew this despite claims to the contrary and he lays it out:
In Congressional testimony last February, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged “gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration,” validating reports that Syria was still hiding banned chemicals at undisclosed locations. And on its way out the door in January of this year, the Obama Treasury quietly introduced new sanctions against Syrian officials involved in chemical warfare. Buried in the language sanctioning a particular official was a telling admission: “As of 2016, Abbas has continued operating at locations in Syria associated with chemical warfare-related missions.”
As Keeley said, it doesn’t matter if the Obama administration knew about a particular stockpile, they knew Syria had them. As Mark Hemingway points out over at The Weekly Standard, that must be news to John Kerry and Susan Rice:
Now recall that John Kerry bragged on Charlie Rose in 2014 about the Obama administration cutting an historic deal that removed “100 percent of the declared chemical weapons” from Syria. I don’t know how much of a caveat the word “declared” constitutes, but as recently as January former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice was confidently announcing that the Obama administration had removed chemical weapons from Syria.
Wait and see how long before that amazing Iran deal comes back to bite them.