Syrian Forces Could Have Launched Suspected Chemical Attack Without Assad's Approval or Knowledge


Credit: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr/wikimedia

Yesterday Matt Welch spoke to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) about the intelligence surrounding last week's massacre near Damascus and what could have motivated Assad to launch the alleged chemical attack given the predictable international outrage:

Reason: You're not satisfied by the intelligence so far?

RP: Well, it seems like there's some evidence that there were chemical weapons, I think we're sort of all coming around to agreeing with that—but even [then] I'd like to see some evidence. But then secondly I'd like to see what is the evidence of who set these off, you know? […]

Pat Buchanan the other day asked in one of his essays, he said the Latin phrase cui bono, to whose benefit does this redound? I think it's a pretty important question. This is of absolutely no benefit to Assad. If you were Assad would you set off chemical weapons? No—the whole world now is interested in coming in and attacking him. It makes absolutely no sense from a logical point of view. There was no sort of major assault where he was getting ready to be wiped out. I don't know why he would use chemical weapons.

It does seem strange that Assad would have personally ordered the use of chemical weapons given that the use of chemical weapons looks likely to prompt the U.S. and perhaps some of its allies to carry out some sort of military intervention in Syria. However, aside from the possibility that Assad has lost most of his abilities to reason there is also the possibility that someone within the Assad regime ordered last week's attack without direct approval from Assad. Earlier this week Foreign Policy's blog "The Cable" reported that U.S. intelligence analysts are confident that the Assad regime was involved in last week's attack because of intercepted panicked phone calls from an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense and the head of a chemical weapons unit. 

So, it is possible for Syrian forces to have carried out last week's attack without Assad's approval or knowledge. However, the buck has to stop somewhere, and whether he was directly involved or not, Assad will be held responsible if it emerges that Syrian forces used chemical weapons. 

Although the British government believes it is "highly likely" that the Assad regime was involved in the attack last week and the Obama administration has concluded that chemical weapons were used by the regime U.S. intelligence officials have told the Associated Press that intelligence linking either Assad or his inner circle to last week's attack is no "slam dunk." However, as I pointed out above, this does not mean Assad will be exculpated if evidence conclusively links his regime to the use of chemical weapons. 

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  1. It’s also possible Assad is secretly batshit insane.

    1. But he has a hot wife.

    2. OK, if he is, then why isn’t he gassing rebels left and right until Officer Uncle Sam and his boys show up and stop him?

    3. Yeah, like only American politicians are allowed to be stupid or nuts?

  2. Syrian Forces Could Have Launched Suspected Chemical Attack Without Assad’s Approval or Knowledge

    I’d file this under “duh”. It’s an overwhelming question mark in the case for a punitive strike.

    Can the CIA prove where the chemical football was at the time of the attack?

    1. I hear it was playing “Madden 25” with the Rooskie’s nuclear football.

      “Would you like to play a game?”

      “DA! You have Madden 25, yes thank you?”

      “Sure. You get to be the Detroit Lions. I get to be….anyone else.”

      “Game on-ski!”

      1. And the Browns let you down one last time.

        1. I think there’s only a 29-45% chance that the Browns would let him down this time.

          1. That’s some fine bloggin’ you two are doin’. Please keep it up!

            Carry on.

    2. Can the CIA prove where the chemical football was at the time of the attack?

      Duh, who do you think delivered the football?

  3. Right, he should have known to play it safe and stick to killing people with bullets. That doesn’t cross any sort of red line.

    1. Shit, you can hack off people’s limbs, rape the women, and force the children into slavery as soldiers and no one in the West will give a damn.

      1. As long as you’re not gassing them before/during/after you rape them, it’s all good.

  4. We’ve got to blow up the country to find out what’s in it.

    1. “Just more sand. Oh well – you never know till you try.”

    2. caramel?

      1. No, it’s always that chunky nougat stuff. You never just get caramel on the first try.

  5. So if we attack Assad and his regime starts to crumble, what’s to stop him from using all his nerve gas and chemical weapons in desperation?

    I highly doubt we can surgically strike at all their chemical weapons, which I assume are hidden and spread out across the country.

    1. Nothing. If he loses the war, he is a dead man. So, why does he give a shit what Obama thinks?

      1. I’m pretty sure Assad will stop at nothing to avoid being ‘Qadaffied’.

      2. Was listening to an interview with the general who dropped bombs on the Serbs, and he said that Assad needs to be given a way out. As in it’s unwise to take a guy with chemical weapons and back him into a corner.

        1. So we can count on Obama to back him into a corner.

          1. Unconditional Surrender.

        2. I’m mildly surprised he hasn’t been offered the Amin option–exile in Saudi Arabia, with a nice stipend for doing nothing but living it up in Saudi Arabia.

          1. He’s an Alawite/Shiite, I don’t think he’d want to go to hang with the Saudis.

            1. Shit, no one wants to hang out with Saudis – but it’s better than a knife in butt.

            2. Well, there’s almost certain death, or a retirement home and income in Saudi Arabia.

              1. I don’t think the Saudis would be cool with that

  6. Obama ought to sympathize, since he doesn’t know anything that’s going on in his Administration until he hears about it on the news.

  7. Fine, I’ll admit it: It was my fault. I just had all of these chemical weapons lying around and didn’t know what to do with them so I accidentally gassed a bunch of Syrians.

    I know I shouldn’t have let it get this far, but I was worried about what my mom would say. When I was young and would ask for Red Ryder Chemical Weapons for Christmas, Mom would always say ‘but Irish, you’ll accidentally gas a bunch of Syrians.’ I guess I just didn’t want to admit that she was right.

    Can we please not go to war over this? I’ll take full responsibility.*

    *What are the odds I am now on some kind of FBI watch list?

    1. What are the odds you weren’t before?

      1. Jesse, you’re not some kind of a rat are you? I’ll fucking kill you if you snitch on me, Jesse.

        1. Bro, everybody knows that snitches get stitches at H&R.

          We’ve all commented here. I’m sure we’re all on someone’s list. I’m fairly certain I’m on Epi’s list two or three times.

          1. Stitches will be covered under the ACA so there’s no reason not to snitch, especially snitching on kulaks, wreckers and obstructionists.

        2. + 1 Henry Hill

        3. No Jesse is a wolf. Don’t you pay attention?

    2. They’re on their way to your door for a “knock and talk”.

      1. Wear something slutty and let us know how it goes.

        1. I suggest daisy dukes and a tube-top. And don’t forget the blue eye shadow.

          1. I’m looking forward to meeting all you guys at the camp.

  8. Sure. You know like ATF agents could have sent thousands of weapons to Mexico without the AG’s knowledge or approval or the IRS could have gone after the President’s opposition without him knowing about it. It is good to see Paul speak in the language of incompetence and unaccountably that Obama can understand.

    1. I wish you’d told him that before he issued his redline ultimatum. Now he simply must kill someone.

  9. If you believe Debka (which you generally shouldn’t), the weapons were launched by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Division, under command of the president’s brother Maher. That shouldn’t really make any difference with anyone’s calculus, except to consider that intra-familial discord might indicate that things are indeed worse than we thought.

    1. Fucking Bill Maher – Obama shoulda droned him a long time ago.

      Wait, wha….

      Oh….never mind.

      /Emily Littela

  10. And I suppose some of Hitler’s colonels and generals started attacking places in 1939 without his say so.

    “What the…HEY, COME ON YOU GUYS! Who authorized this? Goerring? Was this one of your wacky jokes?!!”


    1. You know who else went there?

    2. You know who else went off without being given permission?

      1. Bill Clinton?

    3. Under no circumstances should harm come to the Jews we rounded up. Those camps are for educational purposes, gentlemen. We’ll teach them about the wrongness of their genetic disposition.

  11. Chocolate Nixon is wagging the dog so hard the dog flew off and now he’s just holding on to a bloody tail.

    Occam’s Razor is not on Chocnix’s side

    1. Chocnix – yeah, I like it.

    2. And it worked like a charm. NSA Spying, Benghazi, and IRS persecution of political enemies are nowhere to be found in the news any longer.

      He is as evil and despicable as the day is long, but he’s not anywhere near as stupid as many would like to believe.

      1. Those issues aren’t gone and aren’t going to be gone.

  12. They’re already trying to manufacture consent that Assad did it, even though they haven’t presented any evidence yet. But if the Very Important People? speak we must just sit back and follow their lead.

    1. Tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Watch him go to war and have it turn out that it was a false flag operation and the people whom we just put in power were really behind it. Lets hear explain how lying the country into a war over WMDs is totally no big deal.

      1. The left can just paint “Obama” over their “Bush lied, people died” bumper stickers.

      2. They got away with it in Vietnam.

      3. Well, they got caught, but those hippies still love them some team blue.

    2. No shit. If there was an intercepted call there’s no reason they can’t just publish it and save a lot of time trying to convince the world Assad is responsible. I can only think of one reason they don’t. Because it doesn’t show the evidence they don’t want it to show.

      By “they and them” I mean those interested in seeing missile strikes carried out against Syria.

      1. Whoops

        Because it doesn’t show the evidence they don’t want it to show.

  13. If Assad were smart, which he isn’t, he’d come out say it was unauthorized.

    “Sorry, guys. My bad. Dip shit general did it without permission. We’ve beheaded him, so no cruise missiles are needed, see?”

    1. Would that stop Obama?


      1. I prefer the German version.

        1. Everyone prefers the German version, except possibly Epi, but even he’s probably not that bad.

      2. Neunundneunzig roten Linien.

  14. Syrian Forces Could Have Launched Suspected Chemical Attack Without Assad’s Approval or Knowledge

    So what?

    The IRS investigated Tea Party groups without Obama’s approval or knowledge. But it’s still his responsibility.

    1. Well… with explicit approval that we know of.

      1. My point is if it’s good enough for bombing Assad, it’s good enough for impeaching Obama.

  15. Given the level of competence Barack Obama brings to most foreign affairs, I can only assume that this war will end with a Syrian invasion of mainland America, the carpet bombing of Washington, D.C., American surrender and the installation of a Syrian puppet government.

    1. That could work to our favor. At least then we would have a hostile government that Americans would actually rise up against instead of bend over for.

    2. Stop promising happy endings to shitty situations!

    3. Well, lots of lefties are anti-Israel, so I guess it wouldn’t bother them that much.

    4. You guys are so funny. You make me laugh every time I visit.

      1. Uh oh. Now Irish is going to get all uppity. Bad things happen when the Irish get uppity.

        1. Not the troubles again!

    5. If you are counting on the British to save us, think again. They’ll object at first, but Assad will lean into Cameron and whisper into his ear. ‘There is something in it for you too, my friend. We’ll let you Redcoats burn down the White House all over again.’

      It’s in the English DNA, and there is no resisting a good burning down the White House for the Englishman.

      1. Well…um, don’t we all want to burn the White House down? (Chuckles nervously) cause I don’t. (Looks around suspiciously).

  16. Shit, almost missed this:

    White House selling ‘Peace on Earth’ for $18.95 (*Offer not valid in Syria)…..-ornament/

  17. Seriously, who cares if Assad personally pulled the lanyard, or personally hard-wrote the order, or even knew about it?

    He’s in charge, as, last I checked, an authoritarian dictator. He is, ergo, responsible.

    1. I am not a chemist (IANAC) but from I have heard chemical agents are not hard to make. It is possible that if the rebels wanted to sucker the US in they could have manufactured this attack. That is why it is important to investigate this, if that is your motive for intervention.

    2. That may be true in some larger moral or even legal sense. But we’re well past morality and legality and instead are wandering in the landscape of blatant pragmatism.

      Further US involvement is idiotic and counterproductive, and any straw that will allow the US to save face by not escalating its involvement should be grasped immediately.

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