These Three Maps Show Just How Much Western Power Is Surrounding Syria Right Now
The U.S., despite lack of U.N. approval and growing demands for legal justifications, is determined to strike Syria in response to an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack attributed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Earlier we posted a Reuters map that listed the U.S., British, and French forces and bases that are positioned near Syria. But that doesn’t tell the whole story, since it does not illustrate what those assets are threatening.
So we added to it with information from maps created by Foreign Policy, Agence France-Presse, the Institute for the Study of War, The Telegraph and two via BBC in addition to highlighting U.S. military bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Here’s what the Western assets in the arena currently look like:
Mike Nudelman/Business Insider
August 28, 2013
USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk cruise missile March 29, 2011, in the Mediterranean Sea while operating in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
While most of the country is obsessing over Miley Cyrus, the Obama administration is preparing a military attack against Syria which has the potential of starting World War 3. In fact, it is being reported that cruise missile strikes couldbegin “as early as Thursday“. The Obama administration is pledging that the strikes will be “limited”, but what happens when the Syrians fight back? What happens if they sink a U.S. naval vessel or they have agents start hitting targets inside the United States? Then we would have a full-blown war on our hands. And what happens if the Syrians decide to retaliate by hitting Israel? If Syrian missiles start raining down on Tel Aviv, Israel will be extremely tempted to absolutely flatten Damascus, and they are more than capable of doing precisely that. And of course Hezbollah and Iran are not likely to just sit idly by as their close ally Syria is battered into oblivion. We are looking at a scenario where the entire Middle East could be set aflame, and that might only be just the beginning. Russia and China are sternly warning the U.S. government not to get involved in Syria, and by starting a war with Syria we will do an extraordinary amount of damage to our relationships with those two global superpowers. Could this be the beginning of a chain of events that could eventually lead to a massive global conflict with Russia and China on one side and the United States on the other? Of course it will not happen immediately, but I fear that what is happening now is setting the stage for some really bad things. The following are 22 reasons why starting World War 3 in the Middle East is a really bad idea…
#1 The American people are overwhelmingly against going to war with Syria…
Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.
About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.
#2 At this point, a war in Syria is even more unpopular with the American people than Congress is.
#4 The United States does not have the approval of the United Nations to attack Syria and it is not going to be getting it.
#5 Syria has said that it will use ”all means available” to defend itself if the United States attacks. Would that include terror attacks in the United States itself?
#6 Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem made the following statement on Tuesday…
“We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal. The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves”
#7 Russia has just sent their most advanced anti-ship missiles to Syria. What do you think would happen if images of sinking U.S. naval vessels were to come flashing across our television screens?
#8 When the United States attacks Syria, there is a very good chance that Syria will attack Israel. Just check out what one Syrian official said recently…
A member of the Syrian Ba’ath national council Halef al-Muftah, until recently the Syrian propaganda minister’s aide, said on Monday that Damascus views Israel as “behind the aggression and therefore it will come under fire” should Syria be attacked by the United States.
In an interview for the American radio station Sawa in Arabic, President Bashar Assad’s fellow party member said: “We have strategic weapons and we can retaliate. Essentially, the strategic weapons are aimed at Israel.”
Al-Muftah stressed that the US’s threats will not influence the Syrain regime and added that “If the US or Israel err through aggression and exploit the chemical issue, the region will go up in endless flames, affecting not only the area’s security, but the world’s.”
#9 If Syria attacks Israel, the consequences could be absolutely catastrophic. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising that any attack will be responded to “forcefully“…
“We are not a party to this civil war in Syria but if we identify any attempt to attack us we will respond and we will respond forcefully”
#10 Hezbollah will likely do whatever it can to fight for the survival of the Assad regime. That could include striking targets inside both the United States and Israel.
#11 Iran’s closest ally is Syria. Will Iran sit idly by as their closest ally is removed from the chessboard?
#12 Starting a war with Syria will cause significant damage to our relationship with Russia. On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that the West is acting like a “monkey with a hand grenade“.
#13 Starting a war with Syria will cause significant damage to our relationship with China. And what will happen if the Chinese decide to start dumping the massive amount of U.S. debt that it is holding? Interest rates would absolutely skyrocket and we would rapidly be facing a nightmare scenario.
#14 Dr. Jerome Corsi and Walid Shoebat have compiled some startling evidence that it was actually the Syrian rebels that the U.S. is supporting that were responsible for the chemical weapons attack that is being used as justification to go to war with Syria…
With the assistance of former PLO member and native Arabic-speaker Walid Shoebat, WND has assembled evidence from various Middle Eastern sources that cast doubt on Obama administration claims the Assad government is responsible for last week’s attack.
You can examine the evidence for yourself right here.
#15 As Pat Buchanan recently noted, it would have made absolutely no sense for the Assad regime to use chemical weapons on defenseless women and children. The only people who would benefit from such an attack would be the rebels…
The basic question that needs to be asked about this horrific attack on civilians, which appears to be gas related, is: Cui bono?
To whose benefit would the use of nerve gas on Syrian women and children redound? Certainly not Assad’s, as we can see from the furor and threats against him that the use of gas has produced.
The sole beneficiary of this apparent use of poison gas against civilians in rebel-held territory appears to be the rebels, who have long sought to have us come in and fight their war.
#16 If the Saudis really want to topple the Assad regime, they should do it themselves. They should not expect the United States to do their dirty work for them.
#17 A former commander of U.S. Central Command has said that a U.S. attack on Syria would result in “a full-throated, very, very serious war“.
#18 A war in the Middle East will be bad for the financial markets. The Dow was down about 170 points today and concern about war with Syria was the primary reason.
#19 A war in the Middle East will cause the price of oil to go up. On Tuesday, the price of U.S. oil rose to about $109 a barrel.
#20 There is no way in the world that the U.S. government should be backing the Syrian rebels. As I discussed a few days ago, the rebels have pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, they have beheaded numerous Christians and they have massacred entire Christian villages. If the U.S. government helps these lunatics take power in Syria it will be a complete and utter disaster.
#21 A lot of innocent civilians inside Syria will end up getting killed. Already, a lot of Syrians are expressing concern about what “foreign intervention” will mean for them and their families…
“I’ve always been a supporter of foreign intervention, but now that it seems like a reality, I’ve been worrying that my family could be hurt or killed,” said one woman, Zaina, who opposes Assad. “I’m afraid of a military strike now.”
“The big fear is that they’ll make the same mistakes they made in Libya and Iraq,” said Ziyad, a man in his 50s. “They’ll hit civilian targets, and then they’ll cry that it was by mistake, but we’ll get killed in the thousands.”
#22 If the U.S. government insists on going to war with Syria without the approval of the American people, the U.S. Congress or the United Nations, we are going to lose a lot of friends and a lot of credibility around the globe. It truly is a sad day when Russia looks like “the good guys” and we look like “the bad guys”.
What good could possibly come out of getting involved in Syria? As I wrote about the other day, the “rebels” that Obama is backing are rabidly anti-Christian, rabidly anti-Israel and rabidly anti-western. If they take control of Syria, that nation will be far more unstable and far more of a hotbed for terrorism than it is now.
And the downside of getting involved in Syria is absolutely enormous. Syria, Iran and Hezbollah all have agents inside this country, and if they decide to start blowing stuff up that will wake up the American people to the horror of war really quick. And by attacking Syria, the United States could cause a major regional war to erupt in the Middle East which could eventually lead to World War 3.
I don’t know about you, but I think that starting World War 3 in the Middle East is a really bad idea.
Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before things spin totally out of control.
Intercepted phone calls indicate Syrian government did not order attack
Paul Joseph Watson
August 28, 2013
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Intercepted phone calls that will be presented by the Obamaadministration as proof that Bashar Al-Assad was behind last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria actually suggest that the attack was not ordered by the Syrian government.
Phone calls by the Syrian Ministry of Defense intercepted by Mossad and passed to the US reveal that Syrian government officials, “exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people,” in the hours after last week’s attack.
Why would the Syrian Ministry of Defense be making panicked phone calls “demanding answers” about the attack if they had ordered it?
The fact that the highest levels of the Syrian government apparently had no knowledge of the attack strongly suggests that they did not order it, with the worst case scenario being that the attack was “the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds,” writes Foreign Policy’s Noah Shachtman.
“We don’t know exactly why it happened,” a US intelligence official told Foreign Policy. “We just know it was pretty fucking stupid.”
So despite not knowing exactly what happened, why it happened, or who ordered it, while sabotaging the UN’s investigation of the incident, the US is about to launch cruise missile attacks and potentially enflame the entireregion based on evidence that actually suggests the Syrian government had no idea who was behind the chemical weapons attack.
Meanwhile, previous evidence that suggests the US-backed rebels prepared and used chemical weapons on numerous occasions has been completely forgotten in the rush to war.
The last time the United Nations investigated evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria, inspectors concluded that it was likely the rebels and not Assad’s forces who were behind the attacks.
In addition, leaked phone conversations that emerged earlier this year between two members of the Free Syrian Army contain details of a plan to carry out a chemical weapons attack capable of impacting an area the size of one kilometer.
There are also multiple other examples of video footage which shows US-backed rebels preparing and using chemical weapons.
The notion that Washington has any credibility when it comes to laying blame about weapons of mass destruction is ludicrous.
The last time the world believed the United States’ claims about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, hundreds of thousands of innocent people died as a result.
The Obama administration is about to launch the United States headlong into a conflict that could spark a new war in the Middle East, yet the very justification for the assault is being blithely accepted by the mainstream media, who have learned nothing from how their obsequious and unquestioning behavior prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq helped grease the skids for a decade of bloodshed and disaster.
August 28, 2013
Time Magazine is calling for Obama to use Clinton’s illegal 1998 Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign as a template when he bombs Syria, possibly tomorrow. Clinton’s foray into organized mass murder – designed in part to distract from his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky – lasted four days and killed hundreds of Iraqis. According to the United States, a barrage of cruise missiles were fired into Iraq to “degrade” Saddam Hussein’s ability to produce weapons of mass destruction, weapons sold to him by the United States.
Hans Blix: western media pushing war agenda ahead of Syria attack.
Time says the “trigger” for the coming bombing of Syria will be its weapons of mass destruction and “use of chemical weapons in suburbs of the Syrian capital that killed hundreds of civilians,” an “indiscriminate” attack the United States and its corporate propaganda machine say al-Assad maliciously conducted despite the fact there is absolutely no evidence he did anything of the sort.
Time insists the attack will be “rooted in weapons of mass destruction” and will target Syria’s military infrastructure. “It’ll probably be aimed at Syria’s command-and-control systems, the forces who might have been involved in using it, and maybe expanded to include higher headquarters that would have coordinated the operations,” Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Time.
The corporate war propaganda media invariably trots out neocons and other professional warmongers when it peddles excuses for mass murder under the threadbare banner of subjective and politically expedient humanitarianism. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, WINEP for short, is a “think tank” linked to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and its “scholars” are interchangeable with those over at the American Enterprise Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, neocon operations responsible for pushing the invasion of Iraq (death toll: approximately 1.5 million).
“It’s a lot easier to declare ‘mission accomplished’ when your objective is to blow up command posts, weapons depots and runways, instead of hunting down and destroying weapons of mass destruction, which can be elusive,” Time reports.
In fact, so elusive were Iraq’s WMDs, they were never found. George W. Bush, amply demonstrating the personality quirks of a psychopath, went so far as to contrive a stand-up comedy routine after it was conclusively demonstrated Iraq did not have WMDs. Bush and his cronies knew this.
Following Clinton’s bombing the war media told us the Pentagon went out of its way to spare innocent civilians. “While numerous Ba’ath security, intelligence, and military targets were destroyed, power and telephone systems were spared,” Michael Knights writes for the Washington Institute.
Clinton avoided bombing “dual-use infrastructure” because his predecessor had taken it out a few years before and punitive and medieval sanctions – ultimately claiming the lives of more than 500,000 Iraqi children – made sure Iraq never recovered.
“Bombing of Iraqi cities served no military purpose but was designed to destroy the civilian infrastructure,”David Model wrote in 2005. “War games in July 1990 in South Carolina trained pilots to bomb civilian targets and Pentagon statements about plans to bomb civilian targets in August and September 1990 are evidence that these targets were set well in advance of January 15, 1991.
Critical elements of the civilian infrastructure were destroyed including communication systems, oil refineries, electric generators, water treatment facilities, dams, and transportation centers. Over 90 percent of Iraq’s electrical capacity was destroyed in the first days of the bombing.
One of the most diabolical decisions in the campaign was to destroy Iraq’s water supply, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children long after the war was over. The capacity of Iraq to produce food was severely limited by the attacks on agriculture, food processing, food storage and the food distribution system. Half of Iraq’s agricultural output depended on irrigation systems which were also targeted.
Syria will be similarly targeted, but you won’t hear about it in the war propaganda media.
There will be claims from Syria of innocent civilians killed (Desert Fox killed up to 2,000 Iraqis) and complaints from Syrian allies Iran and Russia that the strikes violated international law, predicts Anthony Cordesman, a military scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But, at the end of it,” he says, “they probably won’t use chemical weapons again.”
That may be the good news, relatively speaking. The bad news is that there’s no idea of what comes next for Syria, already torn apart by a 30-month civil war that has killed an estimated 100,000 people, after the all-but-certain U.S. attack.
Time does not put the 100,000 figure in context – if indeed accurate, and we have no way to verify the number for certain, it is largely the result of a civil war fomented by the United States and the CIA with their dual-use al-Qaeda mercenaries. It is an engineered civil war designed to take out the government of Bashar al-Assad and usher in a generation or more of failed state chaos in Syria.
“The conditions in Iraq ten years after the invasion do not look bright,” writes Fatih Abdulsalam. “There are more signs of division rather than unity, more signs of separation rather than coming together in regard to almost everything in the country.”
Following Obama’s attack, and subsequent attacks after the first one will undoubtedly prove insufficient, Syria’s future will also not look bright.
Once again, weapons of mass destruction serve as a pretext for a different agenda – the destruction of Syria and its removal as a geopolitical player in the region, an area increasingly dominated by the United States and its regional surrogate, Israel.
“It’s one of the most serious moments in world history US has ever faced”
August 28, 2013
In an interview with Alex Jones, American author and political commentator Dr. Jerome R. Corsi confirmed that Syrian rebels were behind the sarin gas attack in Syria last week. Video evidence and reliable Middle Eastern sources on the ground, Corsi says, prove Syrian rebels launched the attack in an attempt to take over the Syrian government.
He believes if the United States moves towards war with Syria it will surely result in World War 3.
After news broke of the alleged chemical weapons attack, Secretary of State John Kerry took to the stage giving a speech in which he called the attack a “cowardly crime” and a moral “obscenity.” Kerry claims to have “undeniable” proof of the Syrian government’s guilt, however unsurprisingly he failed to offer it to the public.
In an interview with a Russian newspaper, Syrian President Bashar Assad called the allegations “preposterous” and “completely politicized,” reported the LA Times. “How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located?”
Corsi argues several reasons for the US not to go to war with Syria. First off, the US cannot financially or economically sustain another war. “Russia and China are not borrowing $1 trillion a year to make their budget, and the world knows it,” said Corsi. Secondly, public opinion is not there, and it’s most likely not going to get there.
“The ramifications of getting into a shooting match with Russia and China is unpredictable,” said Dr. Corsi. “Risking a confrontation with Russia and possibly China is quite frightening and would become one of the most serious moments in US history.”
When Alex asked Dr. Corsi how Obama plans to get away with starting a war like this, he said Obama probably intends to continue “lying with impunity.”
A report by WND reveals evidence assembled from various Middle Eastern sources that “cast doubt on Obama administration claims the Assad government is responsible for last week’s attack.”
Photo: Dr. Jerome Corsi
WND’s report says two YouTube videos show what looks like “Syrian rebel forces loading a canister of nerve gas on a rocket to fire presumably at civilians and possibly government forces.”
A screen capture from a Syrian TV report shows a chemical agent that appears to have been made in a “Saudi factory.” Another report from RT illustrates “captured rebel arsenals apparently with chemical agents manufactured in Saudi Arabia and gas masks,” support Russian claims that rebels are the culprits.
The report further states that an intercepted phone call between a terrorist affiliated with the rebel civilian militia and his Saudi Arabian boss indicates Syrian terrorists, not the Assad government, were behind the chemical weapons attack.
“The Syrian terrorist told him that one of the achievements of his “battalion” was the use of chemical weapons in Deir Ballba.
“The recorded phone call disclosed the cooperation between two terrorist groups in Syria to bring two bottles of Sarin Gas from the Barzeh neighborhood in Damascus,” reported WND.
In Rush to Strike Syria, US Tried to Derail UN Probe
by Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON – After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the U.N. to call off its investigation.
The administration’s reversal, which came within hours of the deal reached between Syria and the U.N., was reported by the Wall Street Journal Monday and effectively confirmed by a State Department spokesperson later that day.
In his press appearance Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who intervened with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call off the investigation, dismissed the U.N. investigation as coming too late to obtain valid evidence on the attack that Syrian opposition sources claimed killed as many 1,300 people.
The sudden reversal and overt hostility toward the U.N. investigation, which coincides with indications that the administration is planning a major military strike against Syria in the coming days, suggests that the administration sees the U.N. as hindering its plans for an attack.
Kerry asserted Monday that he had warned Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem last Thursday that Syria had to give the U.N. team immediate access to the site and stop the shelling there, which he said was “systematically destroying evidence”. He called the Syria-U.N. deal to allow investigators unrestricted access “too late to be credible”.
After the deal was announced on Sunday, however, Kerry pushed Ban in a phone call to call off the investigation completely.
The Wall Street Journal reported the pressure on Ban without mentioning Kerry by name. It said unnamed “U.S. officials” had told the secretary-general that it was “no longer safe for the inspectors to remain in Syria and that their mission was pointless.”
But Ban, who has generally been regarded as a pliable instrument of U.S. policy, refused to withdraw the U.N. team and instead “stood firm on principle”, the Journal reported. He was said to have ordered the U.N. inspectors to “continue their work”.
The Journal said “U.S. officials” also told the secretary-general that the United States “didn’t think the inspectors would be able to collect viable evidence due to the passage of time and damage from subsequent shelling.”
The State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, confirmed to reporters that Kerry had spoken with Ban over the weekend. She also confirmed the gist of the U.S. position on the investigation. “We believe that it’s been too long and there’s been too much destruction of the area for the investigation to be credible,” she said.
That claim echoed a statement by an unnamed “senior official” to the Washington PostSunday that the evidence had been “significantly corrupted” by the regime’s shelling of the area.
“[W]e don’t at this point have confidence that the U.N. can conduct a credible inquiry into what happened,” said Harf, “We are concerned that the Syrian regime will use this as a delay tactic to continue shelling and destroying evidence in the area.”
Harf did not explain, however, how the Syrian agreement to a ceasefire and unimpeded access to the area of the alleged chemical weapons attack could represent a continuation in “shelling and destroying evidence”.
Despite the U.S. effort to portray the Syrian government policy as one of “delay”, the formal request from the United Nations for access to the site did not go to the Syrian government until Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, as Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, conceded in a briefing in New York Tuesday.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said in a press conference Tuesday that Syria had not been asked by the United Nations for access to the East Ghouta area until Kane presented it on Saturday. Syria agreed to provide access and to a ceasefire the following day.
Haq sharply disagreed with the argument made by Kerry and the State Department that it was too late to obtain evidence of the nature of the Aug. 21 incident.
“Sarin can be detected for up to months after its use,” he said.
Specialists on chemical weapons also suggested in interviews with IPS that the U.N. investigating team, under a highly regarded Swedish specialist Ake Sellstom and including several experts borrowed from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, should be able to either confirm or disprove the charge of an attack with nerve or another chemical weapon within a matter of days.
Ralph Trapp, a consultant on proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, said he was “reasonably confident” that the U.N. team could clarify what had happened.
“They can definitely answer the question [of] whether there was a chemical attack, and they can tell which chemical was used,” he said, by collecting samples from blood, urine and hair of victims. There was even “some chance” of finding chemical residue from ammunition pieces or craters where they landed.
Trapp said it would take “several days” to complete an analysis.
Steve Johnson, who runs a programme in chemical, biological and radiological weapons forensics at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, said that by the end of the week the U.N. might be able to answer whether “people died of a nerve agent.”
Johnson said the team, if pushed, could produce “some kind of view” on that issue within 24 to 48 hours.
Dan Kastesza, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps and a former adviser to the White House on chemical and biological weapons proliferation, told IPS the team will not be looking for traces of the nerve gas sarin in blood samples but rather chemicals produced when sarin degrades.
But Kastesza said that once samples arrive at laboratories, specialists could make a determination “in a day or two” about whether a nerve agent or other chemical weapons had been used.
The real reason for the Obama administration’s hostility toward the U.N. investigation appears to be the fear that the Syrian government’s decision to allow the team access to the area indicates that it knows that U.N. investigators will not find evidence of a nerve gas attack.
The administration’s effort to discredit the investigation recalls the George W. Bush administration’s rejection of the position of U.N. inspectors in 2002 and 2003 after they found no evidence of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the administration’s refusal to give inspectors more time to fully rule out the existence of an active Iraqi WMD programme.
In both cases, the administration had made up its mind to go to war and wanted no information that could contradict that policy to arise.
© 2013 IPS North America
56 bipartisan House members demand President follow Constitution
Paul Joseph Watson
August 28, 2013
The White House has so far failed to respond to a letter signed by 56 bipartisan members of Congress asking President Obama to get congressional approval for an attack on Syria, despite Obama himself affirming the constitutional necessity of such an authorization during his 2008 campaign.
The letter, written by Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell, strongly urges Obama, “to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria, adding, “Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.”
It goes on to stress that launching an offensive act of war when the United States is not directly threatened with a green light from Congress is unconstitutional, citing Obama’s decision to order the use of “221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire missiles,” against Libya in 2011 with zero congressional approval.
Rigell is asking Obama to reconvene Congress so that lawmakers can carefully study the evidence and the necessity for the United States to become directly embroiled in the conflict in Syria.
However, on Sunday, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News that Congress would not be consulted on the move and that lawmakers would have to “assent” to it at a later date.
It’s highly unlikely that Obama will adhere to the constitution by seeking congressional approval for any assault on Syria given his attitude under similar circumstances before the 2011 attack on Libya.
When Obama faced criticism from Congress over the 2011 attack, he churlishly dismissed the issue, remarking, “I don’t even have to get to the Constitutional question,” before claiming that his authority came from NATO and the UN.
According to Congressman Walter Jones, this amounted to “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
Obama’s hostility towards getting Congressional approval before launching military attacks in ironic given that both he and Vice President Joe Biden made reference to that very necessity during their 2008 campaign. “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama said in 2008.
Passed after the Vietnam War, the War Powers Resolution states that the President’s powers as commander-in-chief should be “exercised only pursuant to a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization from Congress, or a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States.”
Obama’s rebuff of Congress during the attack on Libya was followed by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s astounding claim that the United Nations and NATO have supreme authority over the actions of the United States military.
During a March 2012 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Panetta responded to a question about whether the administration would consult Congress before future conflicts by responding, “You know, our goal would be to seek international permission. And we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress.”
The difference this time around is that Obama is not even bothering to claim his moral authority from the UN, never mind Congress, with the US indicating that it will launch cruise missile strikes within days without first obtaining a UN Security Council resolution.
Netanyahu calls up reserve forces; Huge US military build up in Qatar; Russia evacuates citizens from Syria
Aug 28, 2013
Senior Syrian and Iranian officials have again warned that should the US pursue military action in Syria, thestate of Israel will find itself firmly and immediately in their crosshairs.
“If Damascus comes under attack, Tel Aviv will be targeted too and a full-scale war against Syria will actually issue a license for attacking Israel,” said a Syrian army official in comments to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
“We are rest assured that if Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors,” the official said, maintaining anonymity during the interview.
The army official also stated that if the US chooses to help Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in Syria, their will be significant blowback in Israel.
“Weakening the central government in Damascus will actually start growing attacks on Israel and will create insecurity for that regime,” he said.
“Thus, a U.S. attack on Syria will herald frequent strikes and attacks on Israel, not just by Damascus and its allies in retaliation, but by extremist groups who will find a ground for staging their aspirations,” the official added.
Senior Iranian officials echoed the comments, with Hossein Sheikholeslam, the director-general of the parliament for International Affairs telling Fars News that “the Zionist regime will be the first victim of a military attack on Syria.”
Iranian Member of Parliament Mansur Haqiqatpur was also quoted as saying that “In case of a U.S. military strike against Syria, the flames of outrage of the region’s revolutionaries will point toward the Zionist regime.”
The fresh threats come in the wake of similar comments made earlier in the week by Syrian Deputy Information Minister Halaf Al-Maftah who warned that Israel will “come under fire” should the United states strike against the Assad regime. He added that the Syrian government has “strategic weapons aimed at Israel,” and warned that “If the US or Israel err through aggression and exploit the chemical issue, the regionwill go up in endless flames, affecting not only the area’s security, but the world’s.”
Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom quoted Muftah as also warning “It’s possible to say unambiguously that a process of war against Syria could lead to an all-out world war. The responsibility for that will rest on the US and the Zionist entity’s shoulders.”
The Beirut Daily Star quoted a “senior source close to” Hezbollah as saying that in the event of major Western strike against Syria “Hezbollah will fight on various fronts,” and predicting an immediate “inferno of a war with Israel.”
Pro-Hezbollah cleric, Afif Nabulsi, who is closely aligned with the Syrian and Iranian governments, was also quoted as saying that “any [US] strike against Syria will be met by harsh responses against US interests in theregion and against Israel directly.”
Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour stated in a radio interview that the country would retaliate if Israel “exploits a strike against Syria to attack Hezbollah.”
In response to the threats, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said “The State of Israel is ready for any scenario.” Following a meeting with security officials in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said “We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond and we will respond in strength.”
According to Israeli intelligence website DEBKAfile, the Israeli security cabinet held another emergency meeting today, ordering the partial mobilization of select, qualitative IDF reserve forces: Rocket, Air Force, missile interception, Home Defense command and intelligence units.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that an American military operation on Syria is scheduled to start Friday night, early Saturday Aug. 30-31. The report adds that US forces are finalizing a a major buildup at the huge US Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
“US air force reinforcements in Qatar will stand ready to rush to the aid of US allies – Israel, Jordan and Turkey – in the event of their coming under Syrian Scud attack.” the report states, adding that on the opposite side the Syrian army has been scattering personnel, weapons and air assets to pre prepared fortified shelters in order to limit damage and losses.
“Syrian army command centers in Homs, Hama, Latakia and the Aleppo region were also being split up and dispersed, after a tip-off to Syrian and Russian intelligence that they would be targeted by the US strike.” the report adds.
The Associated Press also reports that Israel has ordered a special call-up of hundreds of reserve troops to beef up civil defense preparations and to operate air-defense units near the border. Defense officials have confirmed the deployment of Iron Dome and Patriot missile-defense batteries in areas near the Syrian border, stating that they believe a US strike on Syria is imminent.
Israeli security and rescue forces are also engaged in a two-day drill in the Golan Heights along the Syrian border.
The intelligence supposedly handed to the US and its allies suggesting that the Syrian army was involved in the chemical attacks last week is said to have come predominantly via Israeli intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile even firebrand broadcaster Glenn Beck has come out against intervention in Syria, warning that because of China and Russia’s alignment with Iran and Syria, a wider war in the middle east would mean that the US “would not survive”.
Beck warned that “this is World War 3 in the making,” noting the Obama administration is on the exact same destructive warpath that the Bush government set out on 12 years ago.
Beck desperately appealed to his conservative listener base to find common ground with real liberals and hold huge anti-war rallies.
August 28, 2013
In Mafia don fashion, the Wall Street Journal, on occasion correctly referred to as the War Street Journal, has called for whacking Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, his brother Maher and wife Asma, and apparently his children, Hafez, Zein and Karim.
Neocon hack for WSJ wants to kill this family. Photo: Camera Press
“Should President Obama decide to order a military strike against Syria, his main order of business must be to kill Bashar Assad,” writes Bret Stephens. “Also, Bashar’s brother and principal henchman, Maher. Also, everyone else in the Assad family with a claim on political power. Also, all of the political symbols of the Assad family’s power, including all of their official or unofficial residences.”
Stephens, a favorite of the global elite (the World Economic Forum designated him a “Young Global Leader” in 2004), is a former editor of the Jerusalem Post, the neocon editorial outpost in Israel.
Bashar, his wife, and children must be butchered, Stephens argues, because the “world can ill-afford a reprise of the 1930s, when the barbarians were given free rein by a West that had lost its will to enforce global order.”
Indeed, the “barbarians were given free rein,” not by loss of will, but because of it as Antony Sutton and others have documented.
Hitler was a creature of German industrialists and Wall Street financiers, a fact ignored when the Nuremberg Military Tribunals hunted down, prosecuted and executed politically expedient scapegoats.
It is interesting how the neocon apologist Stephens is advocating something Nazi thugs and butchers were comfortable with – summary execution of entire families for alleged crimes containing political weight for his establishment paymasters.
Like Hillary Clinton’s witchy cackle upon learning that Col. Muammar Gaddafi was sodomized and then knifed to death as NATO and the United States systematically murdered 30,000 Libyans, Stephens’ cold-blooded proposition that Bashar al-Assad and his family must be murdered reeks of the sort of demented pathology that dominates the establishment media these days.
by Anthony Gucciardi
August 28th, 2013
Updated 08/28/2013 at 5:13 pm
In an explosive declaration, Syria’s deputy foreign minister has now come out on record in declaring that the US, Britain, and France were instrumental in aiding the chemical attacks on Syria through a network of terrorists inside the country.
I spoke earlier on this subject with Alex Jones on the Alex Jones Show to break it down:
Going further with the intel on the subject, the Syrian official now says that the next target will be Europe. Confirming earlier reports by myself and powerhouse journalist Paul Joseph Watson that there was a US government element involved in the planning of the key chemical attacks as documented by Yahoo News, the deputy foreign minister told reporters outside of the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus that he had even presented the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors with bombshell information that reveals the US helped in ‘arming terrorist groups’ to carry out the attacks
“Syria’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday that the United States, Britain and France helped “terrorists” use chemical weapons in Syria, and that the same groups would soon use them against Europe. Speaking to reporters outside the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, Faisal Maqdad said he had presented U.N. chemical weapons inspectors with evidence that “armed terrorist groups” had used sarin gas in all the sites of alleged attacks.”
To break it down plainly, the deputy foreign minister is now adding power behind the January 2013 leaked emails that revealed plans for a major chemical attack as a pretext to war. Emails that, regardless of validity, detail the predictable patterns used to initiate war through orchestrated attacks. One such juggernaut was Yahoo News, which reported:
“The Obama administration gave green signal to a chemical weapons attack plan in Syria that could be blamed on President Bashar al Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country, leaked documents have shown. As per the scheme ‘Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to usechemical weapons,’ the Daily Mail reports.”
Will this information be ignored by mainstream media talking heads and politicians despite its massive significance in the heated WW3-tied Syrian conflict? Unless we blast it out and force the mega news media to cover it, the answer is yes.
“Every neighborhood has some government target. Where do we hide?”
Paul Joseph Watson
August 28, 2013
Despite the US and Britain justifying an imminent attack on Syria in the name of “protecting civilians,” Syrians themselves are scrambling to hide from Obama’s humanitarian love bombs, with one Damascus resident telling Reuters, “We live in the capital. Every turn, every street, every neighborhood has some government target. Where do we hide?”
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Although a torrent of criticism has forced both Washington and London to move towards some kind of symbolic gesture involving the United Nations, a senior US official told NBC News today “we’re past the point of return” and that US air strikes against Syrian targets would inevitably occur “within days.”
That leaves thousands of Syrians living in major cities already ravaged by nearly two years of civil war and western-backed Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks looking up to the skies in anticipation of a fresh delivery of cruise missiles – all in the name of “protecting civilians” of course.
As Reuters reports, “dozens of military sites are mixed in among the civilian population,” meaning that western attacks will almost inevitably mean more loss of life, not to mention the wider threat of a new war in the Middle East.
Syrians have now begun hoarding supplies, including water, batteries, and food, with “the fear in people’s eyes” all too visible, while banks have been inundated with customers attempting to withdraw all their money.
People are fleeing in an effort to rent houses away from military sites, but many cannot afford skyrocketing prices in safer areas.
“What about my friend?” asked a woman whose family was lucky enough to be lent a house in a safe area. “Her whole family lives in this neighborhood. There is no place for them to go.”
With Syria about to become the 7th country to be on the receiving end of the Peace Prize winner’s humanitarian lovefest, let us not forget the fantastic success that this policy of taking a complex political problem and bombing it had in Libya.
Just as it did in Libya, the US is about to become “Al-Qaeda’s air force,” paving the way for extremist jihadists to seize power and turn Syria into their personal thug-rule thiefdom.
Two years after Obama’s love bombs rained down in Tripoli, Libya is now plagued by violence and chaos, has seen its economy collapse, is controlled by brutal tribes who imprison and torture their alleged political adversaries, and has become “the main base for Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb.”
Now it’s Syria’s turn to experience what happens to countries who dare assert their sovereignty by attempting to fight back against an invasion of NATO and Gulf state-supplied terrorists.
Those Syrians who do manage to hide from Obama and Cameron’s humanitarian love bombs may escape death but the future of their country might not be much worth living for.
August 29, 2013
The British government is the most enthusiastic country in the entire international community to get involved in Syria, and the decision on intervention has already been made, believes leader of UK Independence Party Nigel Farage.
August 29, 2013
Even though the U.S. government claims that the Syrian government is the perpetrator of the chemical weapons attack, it admits that it has no idea who in the government ordered the attack. It could have been a rogue, low-level military officer.
Credit: Sgt. Andrew D. Pendracki via Flickr
Foreign Policy reports:
With the United States barreling toward a strike on Syria, U.S. officials say they are completely certain that Bashar al-Assad’s government is responsible for last week’s chemical weapons attack. They just don’t know who in the Syrian government is to blame.
On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf admitted as much. “The commander-in-chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership, even if … he’s not the one that pushes the button or said, ‘Go,’ on this,” Harf said. “I don’t know what the facts are here….”
On Tuesday, The Cable reported that U.S. officials are basing theirassessment that the Assad regime bears responsibility for the strike largely on an intercepted phone call between a panicked Ministry of Defense official and a commander of a Syrian chemical weapons unit. But that intelligence does not resolve the question of who in the government ordered the strike ….
Because of that lack of clarity, Harf took a beating on Wednesday. In a testy exchange during her daily briefing, Harf very nearly admitted that it makes no difference who in the Syrian government ordered the attack, a reflection of the lack of certainty that still shrouds U.S. understanding of the chemical attack that may have left as many as 1,000 people dead.
In effect, Harf was left arguing that because no one else could have carried out the attack, it must have been the Syrian government. “The world doesn’t need a classified U.S. intelligence assessment to see the photos and the videos of these people and to know that the only possible entity in Syria that could do this to their own people is the regime,” she said.
Given that U.N. inspectors with a mandate to investigate chemical weapons use were on the ground when the attack happened, the decision to deploy what appears to have been a nerve agent in a suburb east of Damascus has puzzled many observers. Why would Syria do such a thing when it is fully aware that the mass use of chemical weapons is the one thing that might require the United States to take military action against it? That’s a question U.S. intelligence analysts are puzzling over as well. “We don’t know exactly why it happened,” the intelligence official said. “We just know it was pretty fucking stupid.”
Pressed on whether the United States would still consider itself justified in launching a punitive strike if the chemical weapons were deployed by a “rogue officer,” Harf said, “yes,” before quickly adding a caveat: “But that’s also a wildly conjecturous question.”
Given that American, British and other Western soldiers have pleaded guilty to massacring civilians and committing war crimes, should we condemn the entire Syrian regime if it turns out to be a crime carried out by one rogue officer?
August 29, 2013
Q. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
Obama with his Nobel Peace Prize (Photo: Public Domain)
Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
– Interview with Charlie Savage, December 20, 2007 (full text here)
Ok, so Obama lied again…what’s new.
Well what’s new is that launching missiles into Syria right now could lead to a much wider global conflagration, i.e. World War III.
I don’t think anybody wants that.
Or do they?
It actually seems as if the sociopaths in charge of these United States DO want this, and therefore we must do everything we can to prevent it from happening.
Not only is it key to inform people how ridiculous it is to say a chemical weapons attack is a reason for war when the U.S. government itself aided Saddam Hussein in chemical warfare in the 1980′s, but we must also explain to people that use of force in Syria is entirely unconstitutional.
While candidate Obama clearly understood this, President Obama is suffering from another case of chronic constitutional amnesia, a condition he developed on or around January 19, 2009.
This maniac, who we call President, is suddenly parading around like this war is his to start.
As if he is some sort of Emperor.
Well it is not, and he is not.
Somehow the Big O, our precious “constitutional scholar,” must have skipped over Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution. If you need a reminder, here it goes:
U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section 8
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;
To establish post offices and post roads;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;–And
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
Got that Barry? Go to Congress.
August 29, 2013
Are you ready to pay four, five or possibly even six dollars for a gallon of gasoline?
Credit: Flcelloguy via Wikimedia Commons
War has consequences, and a conflict with Syria has the potential to escalate wildly out of control very rapidly.
The Obama administration is pledging that the upcoming attack on Syria will be “brief and limited” and that the steady flow of oil out of the Middle East will not be interrupted.
But what happens if Syria strikes back?
What happens if Syrian missiles startraining down on Tel Aviv?
What happens if Hezbollah or Iran starts attacking U.S. or Israeli targets?
Unless Syria, Hezbollah and Iran all stand down and refuse to fight back, we could very easily be looking at a major regional war in the Middle East, and that could cause the price of oil to explode higher.
Syria is not a major oil producer, but approximately a third of all of the crude oil in the world is produced in the Middle East.
If the Suez Canal or the Persian Gulf (or both) get shut down for an extended period of time, the consequences would be dramatic.
The price of oil has already risen about 15% so far this summer, and war in the Middle East could potentially send it soaring into record territory.
We can always hope that cooler heads prevail and that a conflict is avoided, but at this point it does not look like that is going to happen. In fact, according to Richard Engel of NBC News, a senior U.S. official has admitted that “we’re past the point of return” and that a strike on Syria can be expected within days.
Obama is promising that the U.S. will “take limited, tailored approaches”, and that we will not be “getting drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of, you know, Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about”, but how in the world can he guarantee that?
If missiles start raining down on Israeli cities, the Israelis are not just going to sit there and take it like they did during the first Gulf War. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, “Israeli leaders are making it clear that they have no intention of standing down this time if attacked”.
If Israel is attacked, their military response will be absolutely massive.
And then we will have the major regional war in the Middle East that so many people have been warning about for so many years. Hundreds of thousands of people will die and the global economy will be paralyzed.
So what will Obama do in such a situation?
Will he pack up and go home?
Of course not. We would be committed to fighting a brutal, horrific war that there was absolutely no reason tostart in the first place.
And we are already starting to feel the effect of rising tensions in the Middle East. This week, the price of oil rose to a 10-month high…
U.S. oil prices soared to an 18-month high as traders worried that a potential military strike against Syria could disrupt the region’s oil supplies.
October crude futures surged 2.9%, to $109.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, their highest close since February 2012. Brent futures ended up 3.2% at $114.28 a barrel, a six-month high.
Posted below is a chart that shows how the price of oil has moved over the past several decades. Could we soon break the all-time record of $147 a barrel that was set back in 2008?…
And of course we all remember what happened when the price of oil got that high back in 2008. The global economy was plunged into the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
A major conflict in the Middle East, especially if it goes on for an extended period of time, could send the price of oil to absolutely ridiculous levels.
Every single day, a massive amount of oil is moved through the Suez Canal. The following is from a recent Wall Street Journal article…
To the southwest is the Suez Canal, one such chokepoint, which connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of the Suez with the Mediterranean Sea. The canal transports about 800,000 barrels of crude and 1.4 million barrels of petroleum products daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Another regional oil shipping route potentially threatened by the Syria crisis is the Sumed, or Suez-Mediterranean, pipeline, also in Egypt, which moves oil from the Persian Gulf region to the Mediterranean. The Sumed handles 1.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, the EIA said.
And of course an enormous amount of oil moves through the Persian Gulf each day as well. If the Suez Canal and/or the Persian Gulf were to be shut down, there would almost immediately be global supply problems.
So how high could the price of oil go?
Well, according to CNBC, some analysts believe that $150 a barrel could easily be hit if the U.S. attacks Syria…
Some analysts believe even U.S. crude, West Texas Intermediate (WTI crude) could get close to the $150 zone. “If oil prices spike on the Syria attack, and surge above $120, the next logical upside target is going to be the 2008 high of $147, which could easily be taken out,” said John Kilduff of Again Capital. “It’s the retaliation to the retaliation that we have to be worried about.”
If the price of oil soars up to that level and keeps going, we could see the price of gasoline go up to four, five or maybe even six dollars a gallon in some areas of the country.
You better start saving up lots of gas money.
It looks like you are going to need it.
Missile cruiser & anti-submarine ship head to troubled region
Paul Joseph Watson
August 29, 2013
The Russian Navy has denied that the dispatch of two warships to the eastern Mediterranean is linked to western military action against Syria, despite Interfax quoting a source in the armed forces’ general staff who said the deployment was in response to the “well-known situation”.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
As part of plans to have five or six vessels stationed in the region, initial reports stated that Russia had sent an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to waters near Syria because the crisis “required us to make some adjustments” in the naval force, according to Interfax.
However, within hours a Russian Naval spokesperson told RIA Novosti that the maneuvers were part of planned rotation and not linked to the worsening situation in Syria.
“The vessels in the Mediterranean, like those in other parts of the world, act under plans by the Russian Naval Command and General Staff, and fulfil tasks set,” the Naval spokesperson said.
“On completion of these tasks, the vessels then either return to their bases, or are replaced by other vessels to complete the tasks set,” the spokesperson said, adding “This does not amount to a renewal of any grouping or groupings, it is a planned rotation.”
According to Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the US think tank the Heritage Foundation, a western attack on Syria would prompt Russia to “deploy a permanent naval squadron in the Mediterranean and accelerate the search for naval bases and anchorages, such as Tartus and Latakiyeh in Syria.”
Russia has consistently supported the Syrian government and repeatedly vetoed efforts by Britain and the US to secure the green light for military intervention via the UN Security Council. Efforts by Downing Street to propose a new draft resolution that would have greased the skids for cruise missile attacks were rebuffed by Russia and China yesterday.
Both Russia and China have warned that a military attack on Syria would have “catastrophic consequences” for the region.
August 29, 2013
New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, stated the obvious on Wednesday — under the Constitution, only Congress can declare war.
Obama says he has not made a decision on attacking Syria.
Mr. Nadler’s concern was reflected in the following statement issued as Obama and a handful of warmongers, most notably Arizona Senator John McCain and South Carolina Senator Linsey Graham, prepared to attack Syria despite overwhelming opposition by the American people and Obama’s apparent vacillation:
The Constitution requires that, barring an attack on the United States or an imminent threat to the U.S., any decision to use military force can only be made by Congress — not by the President. The decision to go to war — and we should be clear, launching a military strike on another country, justified or not, is an act of war — is reserved by the Constitution to the American people acting through their elected representatives in Congress.
Since there is no imminent threat to the United States, there is no legal justification for bypassing the Constitutionally-required Congressional authorization. “Consultation” with Congress is not sufficient. The Constitution requires Congressional authorization.
The American people deserve to have this decision debated and made in the open, with all the facts and arguments laid out for public review and debate, followed by a Congressional vote. If the President believes that military action against Syria is necessary, he should immediately call Congress back into session and seek the Constitutionally-required authorization.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner has called on Obama to provide a rationale for attacking Syria. Boehner and a growing number of other members of Congress are demanding an explanation ahead of a military attack. Obama needs to provide “a clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action — which is a means, not a policy — will secure U.S. Objectives,” Boehner said in a letter to Obama.
“We should ascertain who used the weapons and we should have an open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement. The Constitution grants the power to declare war to Congress, not the president,” said Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Wednesday.
Congress is currently on recess and will have the option of connecting to a briefing on Thursday by the Obamaadministration on the planned attack via a secured line.
Officialdom Admits No Evidence of Syrian Complicity in Chemical Attack Exists
Intelligence officialdom in the United States now believes the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on civilians is not a “slam dunk,” a basketball phrase used by former CIA director George Tenet in 2002 to describe Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction that in fact did not exist and the government knew didn’t exist.
On Thursday, congressional committees were briefed on a report “thick with caveats” from the Office of the Director for National Intelligence making a case that al-Assad’s military used chemical weapons. Despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion earlier this week that it is “undeniable” al-Assad used chemical weapons, the report states there is no direct evidence the Syrian military is responsible for the attack.
“U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders, or even completely sure it was carried out by government forces, the officials said,” the Associated Press reports today.
The New York Times admitted the Obama administration faces “steep hurdles” as it “prepares to make the most important public intelligence presentation since February 2003, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made a dramatic and detailed case for war to the United Nations Security Council using intelligence — later discredited — about Iraq’s weapons programs.”
As usual, the New York Times is letting a demonstrated war criminal off the hook easy. Powell in fact knew Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction and not only embellished dubious intelligence reports, but outright lied about them as Bob Woodward noted in his book, Plan of Attack.
If the New York Times is around in ten years – and it might go away because dead tree dinosaurs eventually reach their nadir – it will probably conjure up likewise excuses for Secretary of State John Kerry and his “undeniable” evidence that is now crumbling.
Syria resolution authorizing military force fails in U.N. Security Council
Updated at 4:48 p.m. ET
UNITED NATIONS The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council failed to reach an agreement Wednesday on a British-proposed resolution that would authorize the use of military force against Syria, as the U.N. chief pleaded for more time for diplomacy.
Family flees Syria for third time
Would U.S. strike Syria without the U.N.?
U.S. strengthens case for military strike against Syria
Intercepted communications, tissue samples prove Syrian regime responsible for gas attack
Syrian opposition ready for U.S. intervention
The draft resolution — if it were to be put to a vote — would almost certainly be vetoed by Russia and China, which have blocked past attempts to sanction President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Late Wednesday, Britain’s mission to the U.N. said no decision had been made on moving forward with its resolution, CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk reports from U.N. headquarters in New York.
After the council fell short of reaching an agreement, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters in Washington that the U.S. sees "no avenue forward" given Russia’s past opposition to action by the council on Syria.
"We’ve consistently said that we support U.N. Security Council action," Harf told reporters. "Instead, what we’ve seen, not just today, not just last week, but over the course of many months, is the Russians at every move doing things to fail to hold the Syrian regime accountable."
Britain put forth the proposal Wednesday as momentum seemed to be building among Western allies for a strike against Syria. U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, have charged that Assad’s government used deadly chemical weapons near Damascus last week.
The U.S. has not presented concrete proof, and U.N. inspectors currently in Syria to investigate alleged chemical attacks have not endorsed the allegations.
The American government’s assessment is based on the circumstantial evidence from videos posted on the Internet, and, as CBS News correspondent David Martin reported Tuesday, intelligence – much of it still classified – ranging from intercepted Syrian communications to tests of tissue samples taken from victims.
The U.N. envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said Wednesday that evidence suggests some kind of "substance" was used that killed hundreds on Aug. 21.
Falk reports that the five permanent members of the Security Council met in a closed-door, informal meeting to discuss the U.K. resolution Wednesday morning, with Russia and China leaving after an hour and the U.S., France and the U.K. remaining for another hour.
None of the countries’ representatives, including U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, commented on a plan to move forward.
After the ambassadors met, the draft resolution was being sent back to their governments for consultations, according to a Western diplomat, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
The diplomat said Russia reiterated its objections to international intervention in the Syrian crisis.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London that the British draft resolution would authorize "all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons."
Chapter 7 allows the use of international armed force to back up U.N. decisions.
Portraits of Syria’s displaced
Speaking Wednesday from The Hague, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said no action should be taken until the U.N. chemical weapons inspectors finish their work.
"Let them conclude … their work for four days and then we will have to analyze scientifically" their findings and send a report to the Security Council, he said.
The U.N. said the analysis would be done "as quickly as possible."
Ban also pleaded for more time to give diplomacy another chance to end the more than two-year conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.
But the secretary-general added that the Security Council must not go "missing in action."
Meanwhile, U.N. chemical weapons experts on Wednesday took biological samples from several victims of last week’s purported attack, activists said Wednesday.
Syrian refugees – what they carried
Fear of a dramatic escalation in the two-and-a-half-year conflict prompted some 6,000 Syrians to flee into Lebanon over a 24-hour period, or more than six times the average daily flow.
A jittery Israel ordered a special call-up of reserve troops Wednesday as residents lined up at gas-mask distribution centers, preparing for possible hostilities with Syria.
A week after the purported attack, momentum has been building for a possible strike by the U.S. and its allies against the Assad regime.
At the same time, Syria’s main allies Russia and Iran warned of dire consequences for the region if a military intervention is launched.
Syria, which sits on one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, has denied the charges.
Local opposition activists told CBS News that a convoy of U.N. inspectors had reached the town of Mleiha, in the sprawling Ghouta area, and videos posted online by the activists showed them interviewing patients at clinics in Mleiha and the nearby town of Zamalka.
One video showed the inspectors visiting a clinic and interviewing a man through a translator. Two inspectors were present as a nurse leaned over a man lying on an exam table. One of the experts is heard in the video saying he and his team members have collected blood, urine and hair samples.
One activist said the team took hair and skin samples of five suspected victims in Zamalka during a 90-minute visit. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of regime reprisals.
The U.N. team in Syria did not issue a statement about Wednesday’s trip.
The toll of Syria’s war
Marking the centenary of a venue for peaceful conflict resolution, the U.N.’s Ban said: "Here in the Peace Palace, let us say: Give peace a chance. Give diplomacy a chance. Stop fighting and start talking."
The growing fear of escalation sent wider ripples across the region.
Lebanese security officials in the country’s Bekaa Valley near the border with Syria said at least 6,000 Syrians have crossed into Lebanon in the past 24 hours through the main Masnaa border crossing, including an estimated 4,000 on Wednesday.
The normal daily rate is 500 to 1,000 Syrian refugees coming to Lebanon, depending on the level of fighting.
Two years of strife in Syria
Witnesses said they saw long lines of cars packed with families and belongings at the crossing. There was also traffic in the other direction — a security official said around 2,000 crossed into Syria on Wednesday — but many of them said they were going in to evacuate relatives from Syria.
Um Ahmad, 45, crossed to Lebanon with her five children Wednesday, fearing U.S. strikes on Damascus.
"Isn’t it enough, all the violence and fighting that we already have in the country, now America wants to bomb us, too?" she said, declining to give her full name for security concerns.
Her husband said they have no one in Lebanon but came anyway because of their children. "What will we do here, where will we go? I don’t know — but hopefully we’ll be safe."
Nearly 2 million Syrians have fled their country since the crisis began in March 2011, and millions more are displaced inside Syria.
Wounded Syrians treated in Israel
In Israel, the government ordered a "limited" call-up of reserve units to beef up civil defense preparations and to operate air-defense units near the border. Officials said the call-up is anticipated to bring in "hundreds" of troops.
Israel fears that Syria may respond by attacking the Jewish state, a close American ally. While Israeli officials believe the chances of a Syrian strike remain slim, people were clearly preparing for the possibility.
Large crowds lined up at gas-mask distribution centers. Maya Avishai of the Israeli postal service, which oversees gas mask distribution, said demand has tripled in recent days. About five million Israelis, roughly 60 percent of the population, now have gas masks, she said.
Jordan, meanwhile, said it will not be used as a launching pad for attacks on Syriaand the kingdom favors a diplomatic solution to the crisis. A U.S.-led strike would involve cruise missile attacks from the sea, which would not need to cross or make use of Jordanian territory.
But the remarks underline the U.S. ally’s efforts to avoid further friction with its larger neighbor for fear that Assad or his Iranian backers could retaliate.
The remarks come a day after Jordan hosted a meeting of top commanders from Western and Middle Eastern countries, including some that are likely to participate in a military action.
"Jordan will not be a launching pad for any military action against Syria," said Information Minister Mohammad Momani.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement that any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and a threat to international peace and security.
He stopped short, however, of squarely putting the responsibility on the Assad regime, citing only "information available from a wide variety of sources" as pointing to the Syrian regime as being behind the attack.
Two of Syria’s staunchest backers, Iran and Russia, warned of dire consequences if the U.S. and its allies attack in Syria.
Such strikes "will lead to the long-term destabilization of the situation in the country and the region," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that attacking Syria would be catastrophic for the entire Middle East.
"Intervention of foreign and extra-regional powers in a country has no result other than sparking fire," Iran’s state TV quoted Khamenei as saying. "Waging a war is like a spark in a gunpowder store … its dimensions and consequences can’t be predicted."