National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster delivered remarks in Florida today to give some background on the strikes against Syria Thursday. He made one curious comment that raises a lot of troubling questions:
And the one thing that I will tell you though, there was an effort to minimize—to minimize risk to third-country nationals at that airport—I think you read Russians from that—but that—and we took great pains to try to avoid that. Of course, in any kind of military operation, there are no guarantees. And then there were also measures put in place to avoid hitting what we believe is a storage of sarin gas, so that that would not be ignited and cause a hazard to civilians or anyone else.
Emphasis added. Now recall that John Kerry bragged on Charlie Rose in 2014 about the Obama administration cutting an historic deal that removed “100 percent of the declared chemical weapons” from Syria. I don’t know how much of a caveat the word “declared” constitutes, but as recently as January former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice was confidently announcing that the Obama administration had removed chemical weapons from Syria. (Suffice to say, it’s been a bad week for Rice’s credibility.)
Over at The American Interest, Sean Keeley observes that the Obama administration most certainly knew that the public line they were pushing about removing nuclear weapons from Syria was a lie:
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.
Despite such evidence of dishonesty, the media have been awfully credulous about the Obama administration’s self-serving claim of having rid Syria of chemical weapons. Now we know better. In fact, Keeley goes on to note that general revulsion at participating in the Obama administration’s dangerous charade has led many former Obama administration officials to support President Trump’s actions in Syria.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard