As the push for war with Syria from the White House carried over through the weekend, European Union officials made official statements on Saturday arguing that a UN report on the alleged chemical weapons attack is still necessary before any further action is taken—hard evidence the White House has failed to provide to the international community and lawmakers back home.
While the senior foreign policy official for the European Union, Catherine Ashton, seemed to be leaning more towards Washington's argument that Syrian president Assad is to blame for the alleged chemical weapons attack, she continued to urge the international community to wait for United Nations inspectors to submit a preliminary report on the incident before any action is taken. A UN report can be expected within the next week or two, according to the New York Times.
Ashton also underscored "the need to move forward with addressing the Syrian crisis through the U.N. process," a step the U.S. has snubbed, which could include possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, rather than all out war. The EU ministers said they hope a "preliminary report of this first (U.N.) investigation can be released as soon as possible."
Such evidence, or any semblance of a detailed report, has not been provided to the public nor to lawmakers in Washington from the Obama administration.
As Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida points out in an op-ed published in the New York Times this weekend, Congress is yet to recieve any specific details of the administration's "evidence," despite White House promises—only a 12 page "classified" report that, according to Grayson, is as vague and ambiguously worded as the four page briefing released to the public.
According to Grayson, neither of these documents' include hard evidence.
The documentary record regarding an attack on Syria consists of just two papers: a four-page unclassified summary and a 12-page classified summary. The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.
On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.” [...]
We have reached the point where the classified information system prevents even trusted members of Congress, who have security clearances, from learning essential facts, and then inhibits them from discussing and debating what they do know.
And this extends to matters of war and peace, money and blood. The ‘security state’ is drowning in its own phlegm. My position is simple: if the administration wants me to vote for war, on this occasion or on any other, then I need to know all the facts. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.
"It appears that the chief lesson learned by the Obama administration was to release even less information about Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 than the Bush administration did about Iraq’s alleged WMD," wrote Robert Parry at Consortium News, upon reading Grayson's column. "The case against Syria has relied almost exclusively on assertions, such as the bellowing from Secretary of State John Kerry that the Syrian government sure did commit the crime, just trust us."
Meanwhile, Obama returned to the U.S. after a tough sell at the United Nations, to "begin the task of selling his proposed military strikes on Syria to a war-weary American public," in a weekly address, but provided no further details beyond repeated assurances that "this would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan."
The president has announced a major address to the nation on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State John Kerry continued his push to rally EU support for war during meetings in Lithuania on Saturday.
Click here for a rundown of the developments so far and some key events to be aware of in the days and weeks ahead.