Careful reading of the “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013,” released on Aug. 30, shows that it does not meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” test that all U.S. judges require for murder indictments. The assessment admits that it comes up “short of confirmation,” and that officials still need to “close gaps in our understanding of what took place.”
This looks more like a “preponderance of evidence” argument allowed by U.S. courts in civil trials. The evidence is very circumstantial, and could just as well support a story reported by an Amman-based AP reporter that residents of Ghouta believe the disaster was caused by al-Qaeda-linked rebels accidentally setting off Saudi Arabia-supplied chemical weapons.
Secretary of State John Kerry wants to rain down death upon the heads of the accused, as well as innocent local bystanders, based on evidence that would not pass muster in a U.S. court. Even when a U.S. court does issue a death sentence, it is never immediate, allowing for appeals that can go on for years, even decades. But Secretary Kerry does not even want to wait for the U.N. scientists to complete and file reports. Is moral indignation really what is motivating the administration, or is something else going on that we are not being told about?