Trump’s Long History of Lying Leads to Confusion over Syrian Statement
Trump White House Issues Unfounded Threats
On Monday evening, the Trump White House issued a statement regarding what it claimed was the Syrian government’s plans for another chemical weapons attack against its own citizens. The White House warned Bashar al-Assad that his regime would “pay a heavy price” if it does so.
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” the White House statement said. It claimed that the plan in works was similar to the sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017. That attack killed dozens of Syrian civilians, and resulted in a “one-off” retaliatory cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, ordered by President Donald Trump.
“If Mr Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price,” the White House added.
But several US defense officials seemed baffled by the preemptive warning released by the White House on Monday, stating that they were “not familiar with the intelligence that informed the statement.”
“[F]ive US defense officials reached by BuzzFeed News Monday night said they did not know where the potential chemical attack would come from, including one US Central Command official who had ‘no idea’ about its origin. The officials said they were unaware the White House was planning to release its statement; usually such statements are coordinated across the national security agencies and departments before they are released.”
The White House Pushes Back: Fake News!
The White House pushed back against the claims.
“In response to several inquiries regarding the Syria statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies — including State, DoD, CIA and ODNI –were involved in the process from the beginning. Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false.”
Still, the Trump White House statement seemed similar to so many other push-backs from this White House. The statement was simply a dressed-up version of Trump’s repeated “FAKE NEWS!” claims.
Furthermore, both the issue with whether or not there was credible intel on Syria, and the credibility issue with the White House push back against the claims that the statement itself was unfounded, undermine what is so deeply troubling about this administration.
No one believes them.
This is the fundamental problem with a president and White House that lies so often, so blatantly, so egregiously. They have lost all credibility. This administration no longer warrants the benefit of the doubt. And there is the terrifying possibility that, in the midst of a White House in crisis, Trump is capable of making threats to Syria in order to whip up patriotic fervor and distract from all the drama surrounding his administration.
The idea that a president would attempt to distract his base with the possibility of bloodshed and threats of military action would normally seem like the stuff of conspiracy theories.
But with Trump as president, it was a possibility that we had to consider.
Pentagon Had To Clarify
On Tuesday morning, national security officials were finally given briefs on why the White House released their threatening statement to Syria.
According to Pentagon spokesman and Navy Captain Jeff Davis, there had been very recent evidence that the regime was preparing for the “possible use of chemical weapons.” This evidence included activity at Shayrat Airfield.
And, as Buzzfeed reported, though there did appear to be some evidence, “the usual channels at the Pentagon who would have coordinated on last night’s statement were left in the dark.” In fact, there were many officials who had no idea to what the White House was referring in their statement until Tuesday morning.
This is problematic on a number of levels.
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To begin with, the lack of communication between the White House and the Pentagon is deeply troubling. When the White House is issuing threats against a foreign regime, perhaps putting the United States military into play, the Pentagon needs to be part of that conversation. After all, Donald Trump has no military experience, and certainly seems to lack a basic understanding of foreign policy.
Secondly, there remains a rather likely possibility that the White House issued the statement without consultation from experts because of eagerness.
Granted, it seems as though there is truth to what the White House said, but in their hurry to change the narrative currently surrounding their administration, they dashed off a statement without consultation.
That decision, like the administration itself, was both reckless and amateur.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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