A former CIA operative doubts President Barack Obama has as much information on Syria as he is leading the American public to believe.
During Tuesday night’s address, Obama told the American people that he has evidence that “the Assad regime was responsible” for the attacks.
While the president gave a rough outline of what happened in Syria, he has yet to produce definitive proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad perpetrated the attacks.
“What the administration spokespeople have is a masterpiece of deception,” said Raymond McGovern, former CIA operative and adviser to Ronald Reagan. “No one doubts that there were terrible casualties around Damascus and that Assad did it. The former is true, but where’s the evidence that Assad did it? Where’s the meat here?”
Except in cases of immediate threat or attack, the president does not have the power to declare war; only Congress does. During his address, Obama stated that “America is not the world’s policeman,” and thus, he would ask Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while the United States pursues a diplomatic path.
“The bottom line for me is that we just don’t know,” McGovern said, “If the White House has this evidence that Assad carried out the attack, then they should let it out there loud and clear.”
So far, the White House has released an intelligence assessment. But in most instances, the CIA, rather than the White House, carries out intelligence assessments.
“The president doesn’t have any military expertise, he doesn’t know which end is up, it really depends on what his military advisers tell him,” McGovern said.
McGovern believes that before Obama addressed the American people, his military advisers recommended that he should wait for the United Nations inspector’s report, which will be released early next week.
“What’s worrisome is that they are now shaping the intelligence to fit policy, rather than shaping policy to fit intelligence,” Lawrence Wilkerson, William and Mary government professor and former chief of staff to Colin Powell, said.
Just 24 hours after his address to the nation, U.S officials confirmed that the CIA is sending arms and nonlethal materials to Syrian rebels.