'High Confidence' That Syria Used Chemical Weapons, Kerry Says

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Obama administration says it has "high confidence" that Syria's government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week outside Damascus, the capital - killing 1,429 people.

The U.S. chemical weapons assessment says Syrian President Bashar Assad's government used an unidentified nerve agent in the attack. The report cites human and satellite intelligence that it says backs up publicly available videos and other evidence.

Listen to Kerry's remarks above, followed by analysis from WNYC's Brian Lehrer, The Takeaway's John Hockenberry, and NPR's Deborah Amos.









President Obama later made remarks regarding the situation in Syria:

Full text of the President's remarks here:

Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the situation in Syria. As you’ve seen today, we’ve released our unclassified assessment detailing with high confidence that the Syrian regime carried out a chemical weapons attack that killed well over 1,000 people including hundreds of children. This follows the horrific images that shocked us all.

This kind of attack is a challenge to the world. We cannot accept a world where women and children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale. This kind of attack threatens our national security interest by violating well-established international norms against the use of chemical weapons by further threatening friends and allies of ours in the region like Israel and Turkey and Jordan. And it increases the risk that chemical weapons will be used in the future and fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us.

So, I have said before and I meant what I said, that the world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons. Now I have not made a final decision about various actions that might be taken to help enforce that norm.

But as I’ve already said, I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options. We have consulted with allies. We’ve consulted with Congress. We’ve been in conversations with all the interested parties. And in no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long term campaign. But we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm. But again, I repeat, we’re not considering any open ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots on the ground approach. What we will do is consider options that meet the narrow concern around chemical weapons, understanding that there’s not going to be a solely military solution to the underlying concept and tragedy that’s taken place in Syria.

And I will continue to consult closely with Congress, in addition to the release of the unclassified document, we are providing a classified briefing to congressional staff today and we’ll offer that same classified briefing to members of Congress, as well as our international partners. And I will continue to provide updates to the American people as we get more information.


US Assessment of Syrian Use of Chemical Weapons

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Comments [36]

DUSTOFFdoc from Ga - USA

Once a liar always a liar...
John Kerry testimony on Vietnam vets 1971 - LIAR !!!!
John Kerry on Syria 'high confidence' - LIAR ????

Sep. 01 2013 11:14 AM
regis from nj from New Jersey

Traitor Kerry telling the world that we need to have the US Navy supplement our previous arms provisioning to the muslim brotherhood in Benghazi a year ago is MORE TREASON. That tie in is ignored as is the fact that the nations of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are funding an invasion of their neighbor along with Turkey's support. This is not a civil war but an invasion, not rebels but mercenary invaders. And the USA has already helped the invaders. The despot is the one in DC who cannot tell the truth even about his own father who was born in 1936 and who could not have received veteran's benefits as he said on his video. How can any service man trust this person who lies about honorable service? How can any of us trust our government with revelations that the Flight 800 deceptions were orchestrated by government officials and in fact the plane was taken down by a missile. Evil intentions with lies say to not obey this thug and his war minister.

Aug. 31 2013 09:53 AM
alan from united states

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Aug. 30 2013 10:41 PM

Doesn't the Obama clique realize you can only do one bogus war per generation or you risk disillusioning and radicalizing people? Bush could start Iraq so soon after Afghanistan because we were attacked and more importantly there was a whole generation of young people with no memory of Vietnam. Sure, history majors and kids with hippy parents knew what was up but for the rest of those kids it was still the first stage of "fool me once". With this attack Obama risks more than his own credibility or even America's credibility abroad, he risks Americans' belief in their own democracy.

Aug. 30 2013 10:10 PM

People might say WNYC has finally sold out to the "war party"; except that an examination of their "donors" list would demonstrate they were already a "wholly owned" subsidiary of the semi-permanent monied class (Witness Mr. Lehrer's big wet kiss to "Billie" Tisch, the Dowager Queen of the Loewes' Corporate Empire (first 55 to 65 seconds, )

" . . . the United States is heading toward an intervention in Syria that administration officials clearly believe to be right, necessary, and humane. Their cause may be just. But it won’t be legal, and no creative amount of lawyering can make it so."

Can anyone find the link showing Kerry's 2002-2003 statement accompanying his senatorial vote of support for the authorization for U.S. use of military force in Iraq?

Aug. 30 2013 07:13 PM

Not just a Con-game. A "High-Confidence" game.
The Council on Foreign Relations really wants this war.
How many of WNYC's pro-attack commentators were CFR members?
How may have Raytheon stock? [Makes Tomahawk cruise missiles.]

Aug. 30 2013 03:26 PM

Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press journalist Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families… many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak.

Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” one militant named ‘J’ told Gavlak.

His claims are echoed by another female fighter named ‘K’, who told Gavlak, “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them. We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

Aug. 30 2013 03:20 PM
Jan from Morristown

John Kerry almost had me convinced - until he got to the part where we have "a President who keeps his word." There is a lot more at stake here than the President's credibility & reputation, and if he is willing to start World War III to back up his ill-advised "red line" comment he is worse than an empty suit.
I don't need convincing that chemical weapons were used, I need convincing that we can accomplish anything other than more death and suffering.

Aug. 30 2013 01:45 PM

It may be 1300.

80/80,000 = hyperbole.

The point being, where is the moral line?? How is killing with chemistry or drones more or less reprehensible than killing with bombs and bullets??

Is one a more "humane" method of killing?



Aug. 30 2013 01:22 PM
Robert from NYC

HAHAHAHAHAHA LOL Here you go all jumping on the bandwagon. I love it. In 10 years you'll all admit your mistakes. LOL. Here we go again.

Aug. 30 2013 01:22 PM
Dr Anand Veeraraj from Lawrenceville, New Jersey

A very good speach by the Secretary Kerry. President Obama should avoid bombing Syria; instead try diplomatic solutions. We oppose military options.

Aug. 30 2013 01:21 PM


I'm looking for a link to the recordings of John Kerry speeches in the Senate in favor of the 2002 Iraq War (which he later changed his mind about).

Aug. 30 2013 01:20 PM
Robert from NYC

Sometimes I think Kerry thinks he's FDR. Ok speed it up John.

Aug. 30 2013 01:15 PM
Orin from Queens

dboy, at least 1300 died from the most recent Syrian attack. That is actually similar to the number who die each year from landmines, another indiscriminate weapon, but one which US refuses to help ban. From a Huffington Post article:
"A report this month by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines found that mines remain planted in the earth in more than 70 countries and killed at least 1,266 people and wounded 3,891 last year." — Land Mine Treaty Won't Be Signed By Obama Administration, DESMOND BUTLER 11/24/09

Aug. 30 2013 01:11 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Aside from Syria itself, the consequences of whatever action is or isn't taken will affect not only the US, Israel, & other Western countries but other Arab &/or Muslim countries in the region & their people.

The middle way Mr. Miller referred to isn't a single "3rd option," the way he makes it sound. It covers multiple possible options, & it's not possible to know in advance what the consequences of any of them would be.

Would it be possible to attack not the chemical depots (which could release the chemicals) but the transport routes to & from them, so they couldn't be used? Could the same be done to routes from other weapons stores, preferably at a time when casualties would be minimized?

Aug. 30 2013 01:10 PM

Enormous hypocrisy! hundreds of children killed by us drones. Millions killed by US wars. Every politician that lets war happen is a baby killer, a mass murderer, obama, bush, assad, all of them, all of them. We all have ghouls for leaders.

Aug. 30 2013 01:10 PM

.................WORLD PEACE...../

Aug. 30 2013 01:09 PM
Robert from NYC

And so...?

Aug. 30 2013 01:06 PM

I'm looking for a link to the recordings of John Kerry speeches in the Senate in favor of the 2002 Iraq War (which he later changed his mind about).
I doubt that State Representative Obama has a comparable record.

Aug. 30 2013 01:02 PM

Uhmmm, everyone has expressed their "moral outrage" over these 80 people who were killed with chemical weapons.


Aug. 30 2013 12:55 PM
RJ from prospect hts

We also may be somewhat over a barrel since Syria was one of the prime countries we "rendered" "suspected" terrorists to for torture--it may be that Assad is threatening to expose more about this than the US government wants known, esp given the Snowden releases

Aug. 30 2013 12:51 PM
RJ from prospect hts

Let's not forget the "responsibility to protect" protocol that was internationally agreed to after Rwanda was left to mutilate its own people.

"Jihadist" "entire Jihadist movement" "Islamist" "Islamism" have no meaning. Each majority-Muslim country has a different culture, a different historical relationship with the West--economic, trade, domination, exploitation, etc. Attempting to dump everyone following Islam under these rubrics is profoundly simplistic and a thoroughly Western way to justify the West's history of exploitation and discrimination.

Aug. 30 2013 12:48 PM
john from office

Obama has to do some act to maintain his word, but, when can we get out of this area of the world?? These are not nations, but tribes, tribes who hate each other and kill each other with glee. We should pick up our toys and leave. Let them kill each other off. I care about the good old USA.

Aug. 30 2013 12:47 PM

I think there waiting for the first missile to land before he takes the stage

Aug. 30 2013 12:47 PM
Orin from Queens

The position that we are enforcing international norms is hypocritical fiction until we do things like sign the global anti-mine treaty and remove the endorsement of torture that's in the new Army Field Manual. The real motivations are elsewhere, however practical and defensible they may be. The US government uses the moral position and the pro-international law position only when it helps their case.

Aug. 30 2013 12:47 PM

all these commentators refuse to acknowledge what the response of RUSSIA or IRAN may be.

They need to be reckoned with in any action.

Aug. 30 2013 12:37 PM

you wnyc guys...sheesh

Aug. 30 2013 12:37 PM

This all reads like a script.

Aug. 30 2013 12:33 PM
Arthur Aptowitz from Forest Hills, NY

What do the President and Christine Quinn have in common: Every time they say something they LOSE support!

Aug. 30 2013 12:31 PM
Larry from Brooklyn

Did I hear correctly that your commentator said that France has more history with Libya than Syria? Probably did but... but just in case... Libya was an Italian colony while Syria was controlled by France after WWI (League of Nations mandate). I am assuming France's interest in more aggressive action in Syria is related to their historical role there (see also their action in Chad and elsewhere in west Africa).

Aug. 30 2013 12:30 PM

Look at whose interest what is in. 1400 dead babies, more CIA games?

Aug. 30 2013 12:28 PM
Arthur Aptowitz from Forest Hills,. NY

The only two countries, other than us, who wish to act are two which used to CONTROL Syria: France, after World War I, and Turkey when it was the Ottoman Empire. Think about that.

Aug. 30 2013 12:26 PM

send in the DRONES!

Aug. 30 2013 12:26 PM
RJ from prospect hts

How can a reporter on international issues have zero knowledge of international law? That it is a desperately negligent action on NPR's part. It is not just NPR's responsibility to drop reporters into some country in crisis--they need some knowledge, some history, some, yes, knowledge of international law-and, heaven forbid, even some knowledge of the language.

Aug. 30 2013 12:19 PM
Robert from NYC

I'll tell you what the want the US NOT to do and that is to lie AGAIN. This country's been on a downhill slop to hell since Ronald Reagan and the rise of the not so smart very right wing repubs. As time has passed the slope had got steeper and the ride gets faster as it drags down many dems as well. Money is one of the problems. Very few leave Washington not as millionaires, and they didn't get there as millionaires. Yeah we are not, NOT the country we like to think we are or the country we were. We are not what the silly anachronistic Chris Matthews spews we are, the greatest country in the world... any more. We are liars, cheats, hypocrites,,,, We are not the Great Society.

Aug. 30 2013 12:16 PM
RJ from prospect hts

WNYC and NPR keep saying that Parliament vetoed any action on Syria. THEY DID NOT! They did not give Cameron ADVANCE permission to take action, until, at least, the UN inspectors have done their job. As a number of MPs noted, the inspectors were *correct* in Iraq--there is no urgency (especially after 2 years and tens of thousands slaughtered) to not wait another week or so until they complete their work.

PLEASE correct your scripts!

Aug. 30 2013 12:07 PM

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