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White House Offers Evidence Against Syria, as Van Jones Supports Strikes

President Barack Obama meets with his National Security Staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 30, 2013. From left at the table: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of State John Kerry; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Van Jones backs strikes in Syria, as Obama’s war council meets.
President Barack Obama meets with his National Security Staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 30, 2013. From left at the table: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of State John Kerry; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“We should have air strikes this week.” – Van Jones

THE BIGGEST news today on the progressive side of the political spectrum is that Van Jones announced on CNN that he’s in favor of the strike on Syria. It’s caused quite a ripple underneath the big story, which was Secretary John Kerry’s remarks.

Van Jones had a bipartisan moment with fellow “Crossfire” co-host S.E. Cupp, a conservative, as they both came to agreement on Syria, which you can see in the video below.

The White House released the first evidence against Syria, which is copied in full below.

Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013

The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack. These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting.Our classified assessments have been shared with the U.S. Congress and key international partners. To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of what took place.

Syrian Government Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21

A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations.

A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information.

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition. Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation. We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.


The Syrian regime maintains a stockpile of numerous chemical agents, including mustard, sarin, and VX and has thousands of munitions that can be used to deliver chemical warfare agents.

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is the ultimate decision maker for the chemical weapons program and members of the program are carefully vetted to ensure security and loyalty. The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) – which is subordinate to the Syrian Ministry of Defense – manages Syria’s chemical weapons program.

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year, including in the Damascus suburbs. This assessment is based on multiple streams of information including reporting of Syrian officials planning and executing chemical weapons attacks and laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin. We assess that the opposition has not used chemical weapons.

The Syrian regime has the types of munitions that we assess were used to carry out the attack on August 21, and has the ability to strike simultaneously in multiple locations. We have seen no indication that the opposition has carried out a large-scale, coordinated rocket and artillery attack like the one that occurred on August 21.

We assess that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons over the last year primarily to gain the upper hand or break a stalemate in areas where it has struggled to seize and hold strategically valuable territory. In this regard, we continue to judge that the Syrian regime views chemical weapons as one of many tools in its arsenal, including air power and ballistic missiles, which they indiscriminately use against the opposition.

The Syrian regime has initiated an effort to rid the Damascus suburbs of opposition forces using the area as a base to stage attacks against regime targets in the capital. The regime has failed to clear dozens of Damascus neighborhoods of opposition elements, including neighborhoods targeted on August 21, despite employing nearly all of its conventional weapons systems. We assess that the regime’s frustration with its inability to secure large portions of Damascus may have contributed to its decision to use chemical weapons on August 21.


We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.

Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of ‘Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilization of gas masks. Our intelligence sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in the days prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to use chemical weapons.

The Attack:

Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack.

Local social media reports of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs began at 2:30 a.m. local time on August 21. Within the next four hours there were thousands of social media reports on this attack from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area. Multiple accounts described chemical-filled rockets impacting opposition-controlled areas.

Three hospitals in the Damascus area received approximately 3,600 patients displaying symptoms consistent with nerve agent exposure in less than three hours on the morning of August 21, according to a highly credible international humanitarian organization. The reported symptoms, and the epidemiological pattern of events – characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers – were consistent with mass exposure to a nerve agent. We also received reports from international and Syrian medical personnel on the ground.

We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure. The reported symptoms of victims included unconsciousness, foaming from the nose and mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Several of the videos show what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions or blister agents. At least 12 locations are portrayed in the publicly available videos, and a sampling of those videos confirmed that some were shot at the general times and locations described in the footage.

We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack.

We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude that regime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence. On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations. At the same time, the regime intensified the artillery barrage targeting many of the neighborhoods where chemical attacks occurred. In the 24 hour period after the attack, we detected indications of artillery and rocket fire at a rate approximately four times higher than the ten preceding days. We continued to see indications of sustained shelling in the neighborhoods up until the morning of August 26.

To conclude, there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’s responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21.As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.

I’ve been very clear, so you know where I stand.

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12 Responses to White House Offers Evidence Against Syria, as Van Jones Supports Strikes

  1. fairmindedindependent August 30, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    From what I have been seeing on the news networks is that some liberals and conservatives have joined forces against an attack on Syria. Everyone is all over the place on the issue. I am uneasy myself of bombing another Middle Eastern nation. And if the President does not go to Congress both sides are going to be upset about it.

  2. fangio August 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    I have no doubt that Assad did it, I’ve made that clear in previous comments, yet to do what Obama seems to be planning will most probably not work. A question; if we knew Syria had a stockpile of chemical weapons why did we attack Iraq? A question; if we saw the preparations for an attack why didn’t we do something sooner to warn Assad off? Maybe thats what all those talking heads, like Van Jones, should be discussing. Rather than cheerleading for more militarism, misery and death.

  3. mjsmith August 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    “short of confirmation” is all President Obama has? His team’s words, not mine.

  4. Taylor Marsh August 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Holy Tomahawks! Did anyone see Greta tonight?

    Oliver North is certifiable. Suggested Obama get Israel to strike Syria, then hire 1000 contractors for a covert action inside Syria to build freedom fighter brigade.

    Greta was dumbstruck.

    • fangio August 30, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

      Sounds pretty much like the same Ollie North. At least he’s consistent.

      • Taylor Marsh August 30, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

        The video of Greta going to commercial was priceless. She even said she didn’t know how she was going to get out of this one (paraphrasing).

    • secularhumanizinevoluter August 31, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      North is a criminal with a get out of jail free card from the corrupt Reagan administration.
      I can understand the folks who are against any action for GPs….don’t agree at all but understand after over a decade of what seems like a 1984 forever war footing.
      What trully appalls and disgusts me are the admirers and supports of Assad who gibber on and on “AL QEADA” and “MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD” as if these magical words suddenly lift any accountability for acts thet world society has formally declared beyond acceptable governmental behavior from the dictatorial, murdering sombitch sitting in his dictatorial, murdering sombitch;s daddies chair..

  5. mjsmith August 31, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Van Jones is the person who was arrested for taking part of the LA riots in 1992, signed a petition demanding an investigation into whether or not the US Government was behind the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks and not al qaeda. Now he is in favor of direct military support for al qaeda. No wonder this “progressive” was laughed right out of the Government. I have a feeling I know why that whole “green jobs” thing never really worked out.

  6. secularhumanizinevoluter August 31, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    ” Now he is in favor of direct military support for al qaeda.”

    Is it possible for you to post anything with out spewing a disengenuis lie? I wonder how long it will be before you start gibbering about that muslim, Kenyan in the white house trying to inpose shariah law on America?

    • secularhumanizinevoluter August 31, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Days after he wrote the essay, Jones was arrested along with hundreds of participants in ”
      a “peaceful protest” march.

      Charges against him ultimately were dropped, and he says he received a “small” settlement.

      “I was arrested simply for being a police observer,” he later said.”

      Read more:

      From your own garbage sources faux not news….you trully are dispicable in your dishonesty. But understandable considering your school boy crush for authortarian, bigoted, dictatorial types.

  7. TPAZ August 31, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    The figurative optics of the POTUS current position to launch a limited missile attack on Syria to protest killing in a civil war, scurrying beneath a kitchen sink when the lights go on with Olie North, convicted felon and contra death squads financier (by exporting cocaine into black ghettos), and Van Jones, a synthesizer of the 9/11 truthers’ movement and former Obama administration employee, can only be described by a fictional quote from Alice from Alice in Wonderland: “I’ve seen some weird shit.”

  8. Chuckg August 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    We’re going to take military action against Syria as long as Congress says it’s ok….?? I think our POTUS should use the term “red line” more often. He looks bad here folks…real bad. We need a leader right now, and we ain’t got one.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong