How Social Media Helps Make the Case for War with Syria

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The Obama administration is relying heavily on social media reports of chemical attacks to bolster its case for a military strike against Syria. By Michael Hirsh

President Obama was well aware that he had a credibility problem in making the case against Syria over its alleged chemical-weapons use because of the bad intelligence on Iraq a decade ago. The British Parliament reminded him of this problem Thursday when it shockingly rejected military action in a close vote. And in his powerful indictment of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad on Friday as a “thug and a murderer,” Secretary of State John Kerry said the administration was “more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that.”

So it was not surprising, perhaps, that both in Kerry’s presentation and in the heavily redacted intelligence summary released by the administration ahead of expected air strikes against Syria, U.S. officials relied greatly on social-media and Internet videos to supplement the evidence gathered from more-traditional sources.

That was a striking contrast to the Iraq experience, when it was revealed only later that much of the shoddy intelligence used to justify that war relied on super-secret sources such as “Curveball,” the code name for an Iraqi defector who falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons.

Continue reading at The Atlantic.

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