U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Carl Levin (D-MI), Bob Corker (R-TN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today sent the following letter to President Obama asking him to answer the question of whether the Assad regime -- or Syrian elements associated with, or supported by, the Assad regime -- has used chemical weapons in Syria since the current conflict began in March 2011:
April 24, 2013
Dear Mr. President,
As you know, the senior military intelligence analyst of the Israel Defense Forces, Brigadier General Itai Brun, stated recently that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad "has increasingly used chemical weapons" against civilians in Syria. This statement follows the letter sent last week by the French and British governments to the Secretary General of the United Nations, in which they reportedly claim to have credible evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.
These statements by three of our nation's closest allies carry great weight with us, as we know they do for you. Like you, we also view the potential use of chemical weapons in Syria as a matter of vital importance for U.S. and international security, with significant implications for U.S. policy toward the conflict in Syria.
Senior officials from your Administration have testified publicly to Congress that they are still reviewing the facts and have not yet determined whether chemical weapons have been used by the Assad regime in Syria. We know that your Administration is in close contact with the French, British, and Israeli governments about the intelligence underlying their claims. We also know that the United States is capable of evaluating this intelligence, as well as additional information we may possess, and making a public determination on this important national and international security issue.
For these reasons, we seek your response in unclassified form as quickly as possible to the following question: Has the Assad regime -- or Syrian elements associated with, or supported by, the Assad regime -- used chemical weapons in Syria since the current conflict began in March 2011? We believe this question can be answered straightforwardly without compromising any critical intelligence sources and methods, just as our French, British, and Israeli allies have done.
We are eager for your response to this urgent and critical question.