What they knew & what they said

Yesterday in “Never true and mostly stupid” I noted that PolitiFact has withdrawn its previous assessment of the alleged removal of chemical weapons from Syria under the Obama administration as “mostly true.” PolitiFact’s revised assessment is posted here. The current update declares PolitiFact agnostic pending further review.

Mark Hemingway is here to help. At the Weekly Standard Hemingway compiles some of the evidence that the Obama administration not only knew that Syria had chemical weapons, but that the administration persisted saying otherwise when it knew better. Hemingway cites Sean Keeley’s post at the American Interest in support of the proposition that the Obama administration knew its line regarding the removal of chemical weapons was — how to put it? — a lie. Keeley recalls:

In Congressional testimony last February, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged “gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration,” validating reports that Syria was still hiding banned chemicals at undisclosed locations. And on its way out the door in January of this year, the Obama Treasury quietly introduced new sanctions against Syrian officials involved in chemical warfare. Buried in the language sanctioning a particular official was a telling admission: “As of 2016, Abbas has continued operating at locations in Syria associated with chemical warfare-related missions.”

Whether or not the Obama Administration knew of this particular sarin facility, then, they clearly knew that Syrians were still clinging to their stockpiles at several locations. They knew what Adam Garfinkle has been saying all along: that Obama’s deal to remove chemical weapons was not a historic diplomatic triumph but an unenforcable sham that the Syrians and Russians never intended to comply with.

We can’t leave this question without a word from Susan Rice. Hemingway links to his own previous post noting that in January Rice assured a National Public Radio audience of the Obama administration’s success removing chemical weapons in Syria. I think that should clinch Hemingway’s case.

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