Sunday, September 08, 2013

Not Disclosing Direct Evidence Hurts Case for Intervention

The administration's argument for military intervention in Syria is hurt by a lack of direct evidence regarding responsibility for a chemical weapons attack. Satellite images and audio intercepts that are said to prove that the regime used the weapons against residents of a Damascus suburb have not been made public.

There is mounting pressure on the administration to present the evidence to the United Nations Security Council in order to seek a resolution authorizing action against the Syrian regime.

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UN DRAMA:  U.S. delegation presents U-2 spy plane photos during Cuban Missile Crisis.

On October 25, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. ambassador Adlai Stevenson presided over a presentation to the UN Security Council showing aerial reconnaissance photos of Russian missiles in Cuba. The presentation turned out to be one of the most dramatic and effective public uses of intelligence.

Syria has not threatened the United States; but its allies, Iran and Hezbollah, have; and Syria's staunch ally, Russia, rejects the circumstantial evidence--videos of the victims, including children--as proof of regime responsibility for the atrocity. In Russia's view, rebel forces, which include Al Qaeda, might have used the weapons to provoke U.S. strikes on the regime.

Given the seriousness of the situation and domestic and international opposition to unilateral strikes to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons--France, which, unlike Britain, has supported the Obama administration's plan, now wants to delay an attack--there clearly is a compelling case for presenting direct evidence to the Security Council.

In related developments, Syria's president has given an interview to a U.S. TV news network in which he denies his government used the chemical weapons, and a German newspaper, citing intelligence sources, says Syrian forces might have used the weapons without the president's permission.