Intercepted signal traffic, frequently referred to in the media and often cited by the Obama administration, is the assessment's smoking gun. But it is not provided. We still haven't heard it or read a transcript of it. So it doesn't make sense to shred the United Nations Charter and launch an attack on a country based on an opaque assessment from a government guilty of one of the worst canards in recorded history with its bogus intelligence manufactured to show that Iraq possessed a potent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. We are supposed to accept on faith that the smoking gun exists.
There are two massive doubts to consider, doubts which prevent a facile acceptance of this document:
Number one, if the evidence is of such quality that it produces a "high confidence assessment" that "is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation," why dismiss the work of the UN investigators on the ground and try to rush them out of country as soon as possible? This makes absolutely no sense. If the evidence is compelling and on your side you want the investigators to stay and do a thorough job. The fact that John Kerry has been jawboning Ban Ki-moon to get the inspectors out of Syria casts doubt on the evidence the United States possesses. As Putin says, "Show it to us."
Number two, "cui bono" has never been remotely addressed by the Obama administration. Yes, a superficial rationale has been provided as to why Assad would use gas. The Syrian Arab Army purportedly relies on it to clear pockets of rebels that can't be cleared by conventional arms. But all the reporting, both pro- and anti-Assad, had the military making gains in this area prior to the East Ghouta attack. Most importantly, the warhawks will never acknowledge that which is the most obvious -- the opposition has been trying to get the West to intervene militarily from the outset. This fact alone, that proponents of a cruise missile assault on Syria refuse to at least accept in theory that the rebels had everything to gain from a chemical weapons attack being linked to Assad, should make us very suspicious of a rush to war.
I'm out of town for the next few days. "Burdens of a Bachelor" will return Tuesday.