Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons and President Obama’s ‘Red Line’

Pressure is once again building for President Barack Obama to intervene in Syria’s conflict. Now it appears the “red line” and “game changer” set by the President himself has been crossed. Will the President act?

While the conflict in Syria hasn’t received much public attention these past few months, it appears that the White House has had evidence for at least the past month that chemical weapons were used.

With proponents of intervention and the media nipping on Obama’s heels, we can expect action or a statement from the President soon.

Here’s some of the timeline of the red line…

President Barack Obama Issues a “Red Line” to the Assad Regime

After facing pressure from Congressional leaders and those in the international community for the United States to intervene in Syria, President Obama addressed the issue in a surprise visit to the press daily briefing where he drew a red line back in August 2012.

He doubled down in December at an address.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Says “Chemical Agent” Likely Used in Aleppo

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mi.), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told “CBS This Morning” in mid-March that there was a “high probability that a chemical agent was used in Aleppo.”

Rogers refused to say “chemical weapons” and heavily relied on the words “may” and “probability.”

In March, Rebels and Academics Said Syria Had Already Crossed the Red Line


Syrian rebels complained of chemical weapons use last month.

Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, told CBS that Syria was “experimenting with various compounds and mixtures to see how they could use these (chemical agents) in a localized fashion.”

Top Israeli Intelligence Officer Says Syria Using Sarin Gas

credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90

credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90

Brigadier General Itai Brun is a man taken very seriously as head of the IDF Military Intelligence research and analysis division.

Just two days ago, Brun at security conference in Jerusalem said, “To the best of our professional understanding, the regime has made use of deadly chemical weapons against the rebels in a number of incidents in the past.” He said that there was intelligence and photographs collected of Syrians foaming at the mouth and suspected sarin gas.

Israel Cannot Confirm Chemical Use, Says John Kerry, Then Flip Flops

John Kerry

Immediately following Brun’s comments, Secretary of State John Kerry said that he talked directly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying at the NATO conference, “I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning. I think it is fair for me to say that he was not in a position to confirm that in the conversation that I had.”

It has been reported today that Kerry is now echoing Secretary of State Chuck Hagel’s comments (below).

Today Chuck Hagel Says There Is Evidence

Today Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says that there is evidence that chemical weapons were used on a “small scale.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Released Statement Today


“The intelligence community has assessed that Syria has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the Syrian opposition. This has now been acknowledged by the Secretary of Defense and the White House,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) said in a statement. “It is clear that ‘red lines’ have been crossed and action must be taken to prevent larger scale use.”

John McCain Continues Calling For American Action in Syria

“It is pretty obvious that red line has been crossed,” said Senator John McCain (R-Az.). The Senator has long been a proponent of military action in Syria.

In an interview with CNN this afternoon he pointed out that between 70,000 and 80,000 Syrians have been “raped and slaughtered” by the Syrian government and that the use of chemical weapons shouldn’t be a red line inasmuch as the death and suffering of the Syrian people.

An Uncertain White House, Define “Red Line”


Something will eventually be done… or something. For now, the White House stalls. The administration has been talking to reporters on background and off the record saying that they must assess the evidence. Yes, the evidence their officials are claiming to have already confirmed.

In fact, even though the White House wrote a letter to McCain acknowledging the use of chemical weapons, the administration warned that this would not be an  ”automatic trigger.”

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