US Intel on Syria's Planned Gas Attack Sat Unprocessed

We pieced everything together after the fact
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2013 3:28 AM CDT
Updated Sep 5, 2013 5:03 AM CDT
US Didn't Catch Onto Chemical Strike Until Afterward
John Kerry, right, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

When the US learned of plans for past chemical strikes, it was able to warn potential victims, but Washington didn't find out about the Aug. 21 attack in Syria until after it occurred. "Let's be clear, the United States did not watch, in real time, as this horrible attack took place," a rep for the director of national intelligence tells the AP. But the intelligence that the Syrian regime was prepping the attack had been collected over the "three days before" it occurred, said John Kerry last week. Thing is, it hadn't yet been "processed," US officials say.

That's because there was too much intelligence coming in, not just from Syria but from places like Libya and Yemen; hours of military communications were being intercepted and needed to be processed, the AP notes. It was when Syrians themselves reported the attack that US officials turned to intelligence on the matter, and uncovered evidence that the regime had been readying chemical weapons prior to the attack. The AP has the full story. (More Syria stories.)

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