The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said he’s confident the United Nations appointment of a Swedish scientist to investigate whether Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons will lead to the conclusion that the dictator has.
Proving the use of chemical weapons by Damascus would put the White House in a tough spot, as President Obama has vowed it would be the “game changer” that pushes the U.S. to concrete action against the regime.
The United Nations, however, is just investigating one allegation by the Syrian government that rebels used the weapons, whereas Western countries want incidents probed where Assad is believed to have used them against his people.
“When you look at the body of information and evidence over the last two years through intelligence reports, it’s very clear to me, and a high probability that a small amount of chemical weapons has been used,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on Fox. “And they’ve put the weapons in a position to be used, and expressed intent to use. All of that is really concerning, and quite destabilizing to the region.”
Responding to the attacks, though, doesn’t mean U.S. boots on the ground, Rogers said.
“We need to use small groups with special capabilities. And we do have the ability to render the use of those weapons improbable moving forward. And my argument is, listen if we know they have it, and that is undisputed by the international community including Syria. We believe they have this intention to use,” the chairman said.
“We believe that they used a small quantity within the last two years. Shouldn’t we use what capabilities we have to make sure they don’t compound the 70,000 deaths with a chemical weapon exchange here that would be a humanitarian disaster?”
Rogers called indecision “as dangerous as getting this thing wrong.”
“If we’ve learned nothing from Libya, it is you can’t just topple the regime and hope for the best. That doesn’t work. And so if you want a diplomatic solution so there isn’t this mass chaos, you have to have the credibility with the opposition, and the Arab League. And we have neither right now,” he said.
“So the opposition wouldn’t even — didn’t want to meet with our secretary of State, they’re so frustrated. And the Arab League has been — and I meet with them a lot, saying hey what are you guys doing? We need your leadership at the table. They don’t need our military, they just need some of our special capabilities in a very small, and limited way.”