Hagel: Syria Likely Used Chemical Weapons

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 25 2013 11:46 AM

Hagel: Syria Likely Used Chemical Weapons, in Violation of "Every Convention of Warfare"

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Thursday that U.S. intelligence has confirmed "with some degree of varying confidence" that Syria used chemical weapons, at least on a "small scale." The use of chemical weapons in the ongoing Syrian civil war has long been understood to be President Obama's "red line," which if crossed would likely trigger a new phase of American intervention.

Here's more from the Associated Press:

"He says the White House has informed members of Congress that, within the last day, U.S. intelligence concluded with 'some degree of varying confidence' that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons — specifically sarin gas. Hagel says, quote, 'It violates every convention of warfare.'"

Hagel's announcement is something of a reversal from the more skeptical remarks he made only yesterday in response to Israel's claim this week that chemical weapons were in play: "Suspicions are one thing," Hagel told reporters, as USA Today reported, "Evidence is another." He'd asked U.S. officials to investigate Israel's claims independently.

Update 12:20 p.m.: Here's the letter the White House sent to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on the allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, via the Washington Post. In it, the administration suggests  that "no option is off the table" in terms of its response, but cautions that given the stakes involved they'll need to gather additional information to "provide us with some degree of certainty" and "strengthen our leadership of the international community" before acting.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.



Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?


“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.


The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 6:30 PM The Tragedies That Have Shaped Canada's Gun Politics
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.