Politics

Obama Officials: 'We Knew' Syria Had Chemical Weapons

| by Michael Doherty

Former government workers under the former President Barack Obama's administration have reportedly admitted that they failed to make Syrian President Bashar al-Assad get rid of all of his chemical weapons.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that, while Assad may have hidden some of the weapons or later created more, it was still better to have removed 1,300 tons of chemical weapons from Syria, the New York Times reports.

"Imagine what Syria would look like without that deal," said Blinken. "It would be awash in chemical weapons, which would fall into the hands of ISIS, Al Nusra or other groups."

Blinken admitted that officials in the Obama administration knew Assad had not been entirely honest about getting rid of all of the weapons.

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"We always knew we had not gotten everything," Blinken said, "that the Syrians had not been fully forthcoming in their declaration."

Blinken was speaking in reference to a 2013 agreement between America and Russia that was intended to remove chemical weapons from Syria, Mediate reports.

Blinken's statement comes a week after Syria reportedly carried out a chemical attack that left dozens dead including children. CNN reports that President Donald Trump ordered missile strikes in Syria in response to the chemical attack.

"I will tell you it's already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much," said Trump. "When you kill innocent children -- innocent babies -- babies -- little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines."

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Several other officials from Obama's administration spoke out about Trump's response to the chemical attack. Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning in the State Department during Obama's presidency, praised the new president's directness in dealing with Syria.

"Donald Trump has done the right thing on Syria," Slaughter tweeted. "Finally!! After years of useless handwringing in the face of hideous atrocities."

Tom Malinowski, who worked as assistant secretary for human rights under Obama, wrote in the Atlantic that America "should have hit Assad four years ago."

"The lesson I would draw from that experience is that when dealing with mass killing by unconventional or conventional means, deterrence is more effective than disarmament," Malinowski wrote.

Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro also shared his thoughts on the deal on Twitter.

"... I strongly disagree with those who say Assad's CW attack on Idlib proves that the 2013 CW deal struck by Russia and the U.S. was worthless," Shapiro tweeted. "By mid-2014, all 1,300 tons had been removed, supervised by the OPCW, and carefully destroyed on ships at sea.

"We always knew Syria likely squirreled away some residual undeclared stocks and/or production capability, now proven by Idlib strike," he added.

Sources: Mediaite, NY Times, The Atlantic, CNN / Photo Credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr

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