You may or may not believe Gareth Porter’s claim that, on 30 August, President Obama has made public his own assessment (“with high confidence”) of what has happened in Damascus on 21 August in order to convince the public that war is inevitable. That the document was called “Government Assessment” with no reference to National Intelligence Estimate is of course suspect. And even more who its first and second sentences start (“The United States Government assesses with high confidence (sic!)”; and “We further assess”, respectively). It may in fact an illicit attempt to conceal that intelligence assessments were ambiguous. That’s what made most U.S. citizens, Congress, in fact most of us so uncomfortable with Obama’s decision to “punish” the Syrian government.
Porter quotes “[a] former senior intelligence official who asked not to be identified told [news agency] IPS in an e-mail Friday that the language used by the White House ‘means that this is not an intelligence community document’.” The former senior intelligence officer further said, he had “never seen a document about an international crisis at any classification described/slugged as a U.S. government assessment,” and that the administration had “decided on a position and cherry-picked the intelligence to fit it.”
He goes on to quote former director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Greg Thielman, that he has never seen a government document labeled as “Government Assessment.” “If it’s an intelligence assessment why not label it as such.” Porter quotes former National Intelligence Officer Paul Pillar who argues “that senior intelligence officials might have signed off on the administration paper, but that the White House may have drafted its own paper to ‘avoid attention to analytic differences within the intelligence community’.”
Porter goes on to explain Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s role in the “Government Assessment” who apparently refused to endorse it “presumably because it was too obviously an exercise in ‘cherry picking’ intelligence to support a decision for war – would explain why the document had to be issued by the White House,” but he and his office refused to communicate further on the issue when asked by Porter. Porter argues that probably largely exaggerated numbers of casualties in the 21 August attack which grossly deviated from numbers in British and French intelligence estimates might have prevented Clapper from signing the assessment. And further claims of conversations intercepted by U.S. intelligence which were never proved to be authentic.
President Obama has lost his credibility some time ago. In his talk to the nation last night he was visibly relieved for gaining time, getting a chance to postpone his war on Syria, after Russia’s proposal to get Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and eventually destroy them. How that is to be accomplished is completely unclear at the moment. Bashar al-Assad has only recently admitted that they even exist. And he still blames rebels and opposition forces to be responsible for the attack.
11 September 2013 @ 8:46 am.
Last modified September 11, 2013.