Friday, September 21, 2007

Bush Refuses To Comment On Israel's Strike On Syria

Israel Claims It Shared Syrian "Nukes" Data With White House Before Air Strikes

This is the first time I've ever seen President Bush retreat to the "No Comment" sideline when he's been questioned on an issue, particularly a controversial one. He's walked away from tough questions he doesn't want to answer, he's lied, he's waffled and rambled, sometimes for 20 minutes off one single question, but I don't think he's ever attempted the kind of stone-walling that this "no comment" throws up. That Bush goes for "no comment" on a question about why Israel supposedly launched airstrikes inside Syria makes his reaction even more interesting :

Q Sir, Israeli opposition leader Netanyahu has now spoken openly about Israel's bombing raid on a target in Syria earlier in the month. I wonder if you could tell us what the target was, whether you supported this bombing raid, and what do you think it does to change the dynamic in an already hot region in terms of Syria and Iran and the dispute with Israel and whether the U.S. could be drawn into any of this?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to comment on the matter. Would you like another question?

Q Did you support it?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to comment on the matter.

Q Can you comment about your concerns that come out of it at all, about for the region?

THE PRESIDENT: No. Saying I'm not going to comment on the matter means I'm not going to comment on the matter.

The story of why Israel attacked targets inside Syria boils down to a rising tide of allegations that Syria had taken possession of nuclear technology, or weapons, from North Korea. They arrived via boat, Israel tracked the movement of the nuclear cargo inside Syria, alerted the White House, the White House supposedly offered no reaction, and then Israel went ahead and launched an air strike or two. At least, that's how the story is now growing in the mainstream media. Here's the Washington Post's take on what happened :
Israel's decision to attack Syria on Sept. 6, bombing a suspected nuclear site set up in apparent collaboration with North Korea, came after Israel shared intelligence with President Bush this summer indicating that North Korean nuclear personnel were in Syria, U.S. government sources said.

The Bush administration has not commented on the Israeli raid or the underlying intelligence. Although the administration was deeply troubled by Israel's assertion that North Korea was assisting the nuclear ambitions of a country closely linked with Iran, sources said, the White House opted against an immediate response because of concerns it would undermine long-running negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Ultimately, however, the United States is believed to have provided Israel with some corroboration of the original intelligence before Israel proceeded with the raid, which hit the Syrian facility in the dead of night to minimize possible casualties, the sources said.

The target of Israel's attack was said to be in northern Syria, near the Turkish border. A Middle East expert who interviewed one of the pilots involved said they operated under such strict operational security that the airmen flying air cover for the attack aircraft did not know the details of the mission. The pilots who conducted the attack were briefed only after they were in the air, he said. Syrian authorities said there were no casualties.

The fact that Bush refuses to even comment on what is quickly becoming an international issue may well mean that the 'Israel Hits Syria's North Korean Nukes' story is true. Or it may mean that Bush is playing along with a pre-set media campaign that will help to justify Israel's violation of Syrian airspace.

The truth of what happened remains somewhat murky. Expect it to get only more murky.

Neocons Have Syria In Their Sights

Syria tells IAEA : Israeli Nukes Sparking Arms Race

Israel, US Shared Data On Suspected Syrian Nuclear Site

A Dangerous Game Of Bluff - Iran Convinced US Can't Cope With Another War