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Strike Syria? Think again

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Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld struggled to recall the exact words of the quotation he sought to cite when asked by an interviewer about President Barack Obama's handling of the Syrian situation. But he accurately expressed the essence of the quote often used to criticize weak leadership.

It's from Corinthians: “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”

Think of the red line drawn, deferred, then transferred. Think of executive authority claimed for a unilateral strike, then off-loaded onto a skeptical Congress acting on behalf of an even more skeptical nation. Think, too, of a parsing Secretary of State John Kerry arguing that this is not an “asking you to go to war” attack.

Lest our critique be misconstrued, this is not an attack endorsement. Neither is it advocacy for self-defeating isolationism. It is, however, an exhortation for the Obama administration and congressional attack hawks to acknowledge, as Mr. Rumsfeld has, “that intelligence is intelligence and not necessarily a fact.”

As the facts on the ground in Syria increasingly suggest.

Just Friday, a rebel group claimed responsibility for a chemical attack for which “intelligence” tags Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. Another rebel group was exposed for summarily executing captured Syrian soldiers. These are the kinds of rebels who appear to hold sway, hardly the “moderates” that Mr. Kerry insists “intelligence” shows to be dominant.

War-weary Americans deserve the facts. Right now, from this administration, they're not getting them.

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