Breaking news reported that the regime of President Assad perpetrated a sneak attack using chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. The U.S. launched multiple missile strikes in response. Why did the intelligence community fail to inform the President before the attack occurred?
“In a letter to the US Congress on Saturday, President Donald Trump explained his decision to launch an attack on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, claiming he was acting to avert a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
“United States intelligence indicates that Syrian military forces operating from this airfield were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province, Syria, that occurred on April 4,” Trump wrote in the letter.
“I directed this action in order to degrade the Syrian military’s ability to conduct further chemical weapons attacks and to dissuade the Syrian regime from using or proliferating chemical weapons, thereby promoting the stability of the region and averting a worsening of the region’s current humanitarian catastrophe.”” [RT News: 9 April 2017]
An objective analysis of this letter is astounding because it alludes that the “intelligence community” did not warn this President. As such, the Commander -in- Chief, who is responsible for “Force Protection” of American military personnel operating inside Syria was left with the limited choices of action vs. inaction. Of striking a fixed government military target or not hitting an elusive, ever changing Jihadist target, that embeds itself in the civilian population.
The President was left with a political strike in the guise of decisive military action or reactionary military action that would accuse him of being trigger-happy and risking civilian casualties as well.
The President had to weigh his stated policy of pragmatic diplomacy against satiating the voracious appetites of the local political – media opposition beast devouring all things “Trump”.
Based on the “intelligence reporting” and list of options crafted from it, the President took the realist approach to launch the missile strike for the political optics over the military/diplomatic value. This decision was made with the objective of the win-win scenario. Feed the beast now and salvage the policy later with the intent our negotiating partners will arrive at the same conclusions this analysis has done, with even less empirical data to work with. Secretary Tillerson’s skill sets are up to the task.
It is not insulting to observe this as categorically an “intelligence” failure for the simple reason that it did not forewarn the President before it took place. Where was the Human-Intelligence assets, the Signals-Intelligence, the Imagery Intelligence, the watchful eye, the informants, all of the considerable NSA resources that spy on American citizens with impunity?
Where was the intelligence report in real time that informed the Commander -in- Chief that this airbase was making preparations for an attack using Chemical Weapons, that President Trump should have known he had, but was obviously misled to believe by the former Administration and the United Nations Security Council, Assad no longer possessed?
Why must I, publish this column and ask questions of my professional industry colleagues and over-rated Mainstream News media, what is blinding white-light obvious to the rest of of us? Not only did Assad outsmart U.S. intelligence but he was clever enough to dupe Russian intelligence, and the U.N. inspectors in a masterful cover up, only to reveal the deception by attacking civilians of no battlefield value or political benefit. In other words, he was smart enough to fool everybody and too stupid to keep it that way.
If this chemical weapons attack caught everyone unaware, then that is an intelligence failure because it was reported after the fact. It is not an intelligence report to conclude on December 8th, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the early morning of December 7th, 1941. As such, our U.S. military personnel were at risk of chemical attack as much as those civilians, and our intelligence community failed to protect them, as is their responsibility when the deployment order is given them to operate in a theater where such devastating weapons may be utilized against them.
Here is the short list of failed intelligence possibilities:
1. Assad fooled everyone because apparently he had CW all along.
2. Assad did it as reported and President Trump was not warned beforehand.
3. Assad didn’t do it and the Intel was wrong from the start.
Our troops were operating under the premise that the Assad regime did not have these weapons. So was it dumb luck or did the regime decide to use these merciless weapons on a target of zero military value instead of a foreign invader, on sovereign soil, and debate the legality of using these weapons against a superior foreign military force, with the stated purpose of destroying the heretofore legitimate government in Syria, at the United Nations Security Council, and even drag the U.S. before the International Court of Justice?
President Trump was ill-served by our intelligence community if his letter to Congress is to be taken on face value. He made his decision based on the ticking time bomb scenario presented to him by the most expensive military and intelligence resources on the planet. All this taken into consideration, there is still no evidence presented, no investigation conducted, no nothing, except what the news media reported as a fact before the President of the United States declared it as verified and true.
Here are the list of recommendations in an internal memo the President should have received from his military intelligence and diplomatic apparatus incorporating international norms; if they were forewarned by credible intelligence resources April 3rd, 2017:
- Verify the proof that President Assad hid chemical weapons, accessed chemical weapons, was about to utilize chemical weapons, was about to deploy chemical weapons, and then alert the regime that if they use them, they will be attacked with the full might and fury of the U.S. Navy warships nearby. Warn the Russians their client breached the accord and suckered them in front of the world, then proceed to target the airbase with Tomahawks and fighter jets in preparation of a pre-emptive strike.
- Share as much evidence classifications allow to the allies, to include the Russians. File charges against the Assad regime. Seek a warrant from the International Justice Court, Interpol, and United Nations Security Council and call for his arrest.
- In a joint operation with the Russians, seize the chemical weapons caches and proceed to ground the Syrian Air Force, and continue to destroy the “Daisch” Jihadist once and for all, because there is no way they can resist the combined forces of U.S. and Russian soldiers. Then restore stability, and return the Syrian refugees, after forming a caretaker regime under U.N. supervision, until free elections can transpire.
If this policy proposal is irrational and unreasonable, as I admittedly am not privy to the information they have, then fine. Clash with Russia, deconstruct Syria, and create even more refugees. Then by default allow Turkey to become the hegemon and impose the restoration of the former Islamic Ottoman Caliphate to the detriment of the Christians and Kurds to but name a few. Maybe this outcome is a good thing or unavoidable no matter what we do. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, President Trump should utter his famous lines of “You’re fired” to everyone at the Syrian foreign intelligence desk who ill-served his entire chain of command. There is plenty of talent out here willing to replace them all and help President Trump succeed.
It is imperative to restore confidence and veracity in our intelligence reporting capability that this Administration’s decision and policy makers rely so heavily upon.
I for one, do not want President Trump repeating the mistakes of former administrations by making policy on erroneous or failed intelligence.