U.S. intelligence officials now acknowledge that if a gas attack occurred, they do not know who is responsible for it: rebels, the official government, splinter elements from either of these, others, or other causes. It remains possible that a gas attack used tear gas. It remains possible that no nerve gas attack occurred.
All of these possibilities remained open even before this acknowledgement and before Obama, Biden and Carney made categorical statements holding the government responsible.
What I find of interest is this statement in the news report: “All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence report publicly.” Despite all the efforts of Obama to prevent important information from being made public, intelligence officials still decided to undercut the president’s directives. This suggests that Obama miscalculated and acted hastily, and that suggests that he was anxious to find an excuse for intervening on behalf of the rebels, who have been losing ground for months now. It also indicates government in-fighting. The intelligence officials are trying to protect their turf. They do not want again to be pressured into or accused of fixing the intelligence around the pre-decided policy. They do not want another case of being blamed, as occurred with the WMD’s absence in Iraq.3:38 pm on August 29, 2013