June 28, 2017
Heather Hurlburt wrote for New York Magazine about the strangeness surrounding the recent Syria announcement.
On Monday night, the White House warned that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is preparing another chemical-weapons attack, and that if he follows through with it there will be “a heavy price.” The universal response was surprise. Because nothing can be assumed in analyzing the national-security actions of this administration — including competence or traditionally responsible intentions — two big questions hung over the announcement. First: Was it true? Second: As hopes for quick passage of the GOP health-care bill were fading, might it have been a cynical effort to distract from the chaos playing out on Capitol Hill?
What got skeptical spider-senses tingling on Twitter is how quickly officials from the Pentagon, State Department, and Central Command (the arm of the military that would carry out those strikes Spicer threatened) said they hadn’t been told of this warning in advance — and were not clear on what intelligence had provoked it.