In a fiery address to the media today, Secretary of State John Kerry laid out a strong and aggressive argument for taking military action against Syria. Kerry's speech was delivered at the same time as the State Department released a brief declassified report on the official U.S. assessment of the attack.
Beginning with a lengthy list of "what we know," Kerry asserted the U.S. has evidence of not only the weapons used, but the location they were fired from, the location they landed in, and all backed up by satellite imagery and witnesses accounts. They also have numerous reports from hospitals in Damascus that treated patients displaying telltale signs of gas poisoning. He also claimed there was evidence that Syrian chemical weapons experts were on the ground before the attack making preparations and ordering soldiers to take precautions, like gas masks. In all, he said there is "high confidence" that the Assad government is responsible for the attack.
Most importantly, Kerry cited the hundreds of videos and photos taken immediately after the attack ("all hell broke loose on social media") and later corroborated, that became key pieces of evidence for the international community. He stated that the U.S. puts the death toll from the August 21 attack at 1,428, with 426 children killed.
After laying out the legal case, Kerry moved on to make the moral case for striking back. Calling Bashar al-Assad a "thug" and a "murderer," Kerry said that "It matters if nothing is done." He also argued that American credibility was on the line if the U.S. is not willing to do what it says it will. Vowing that the response would not be a repeat of Iraq or Afghanistan, Kerry urged Congress and the public to support the action saying that, "The American people are tired of war… but fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility" and the nation must ensure that "the most heinous weapons will never be used against the most vulnerable people."
Right now @mitchellreports asks important question: Kerry's case so strong, does actual attack that is coming match that strength?— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) August 30, 2013
You can read the entire government report below, via The Washington Post. You can also watch Kerry's full speech via The New York Times website.