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Carney: We’re Still Trying to Figure Out if Syria Crossed the ‘Red Line’


From today’s press briefing:

Q    Jay, on Syria, some questions are being raised about whether the Syrians actually used sarin on their people.  What confidence does the United States have in this evidence?  And can you characterize what exactly the evidence is in any way and what standards you’re trying to meet in terms of establishing it?

MR. CARNEY:  We have established with varying degrees of confidence that chemical weapons were used in limited fashion in Syria and the agent is sarin, as we have said.  We have some physiological tests that are part of that collection of evidence. But there is much more to be done to verify conclusively that the red line that the President has talked about has been crossed. 

And it’s very important that we take the information that’s been gathered thus far and build upon it, because an assessment of varying degrees of confidence is not sufficient upon which to base a policy reaction, as we’ve said and as the President said in the Oval Office on Friday.

So our work continues.  We have a team — or the United Nations has a team ready to deploy to Syria within 24 to 48 hours if Assad allows that team in and follows through on his stated commitment and interest in having this matter investigated.  And we are working with the French and the British and other allies and partners to gather more evidence.  Chain of custody is an important issue — establishing not just that there was an incident of chemical weapons used, but how the exposure occurred, under what circumstances, who specifically was responsible, and again, the chain of custody, how the incident itself was brought about.


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