Judith Miller: Obama Shifts Spotlight Away from NSA with No Clear Plan for Syria
Thursday, June 13, 2013 11:01 PM
By: Paul Scicchitano
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama has shifted national attention away from NSA’s cyber-snooping on American citizens with the administration’s decision to intervene in the Syrian crisis, but there does not appear to be a clear plan for exactly what the U.S. will do next.
“It changes the subject. I guarantee the front page tomorrow is all going to be Syria, Syria, and those dreaded initials — NSA — are not going to appear on the front pages of most papers in this country,” said Miller in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
Miller, a Newsmax contributor, pointed to similarities in the way in which the Obama administration has attempted to change the focus away from Attorney General Eric Holder’s intrusions on the press.
“This is what any administration would do, but this one kind of excels in message control and they are definitely trying to do that in this instance,” she explained. “I think they will succeed.”
But she also said the administration probably would have preferred to continue watching the Syrian crisis unfold from the sidelines, something that became impossible once evidence confirmed that Bashar al-Assad’s government had used the lethal nerve agent sarin to kill as many as 150 of his people.
“He established this red line so you can’t ignore the facts,” Miller said of Obama. “Once those tests came in, if they had not gone public with it and announced it — that their own experts had definitely concluded that [sarin] had been used — they would have been accused of hiding an inconvenient truth so they had to go public.”
Obama’s red line on the use of chemical weapons, however, came when he was speaking off script.
As a result, Miller said, the administration now faces a number of obstacles, which could lead to a regional escalation of the Syrian conflict.
“I’m not sure they know what to do. I mean they were quick to rule out of course boots on the ground,” according to Miller. “Nobody wants that. A no-fly zone, they declared too complicated and too complex — and would require a longer commitment than the United States was ready to provide.”
As a result the U.S. has few options.
“It’s not quite clear what they’re left with except some provision of lethal aid to part of the opposition that they can depend on. And that’s tricky,” explained Miller. “It’s very hard to supply lethal aid to people who may not be able to control it, and who may find it transferred to the very people whom we’ve been fighting since 9/11. That doesn’t leave you with very many options.”
She believes that the Obama administration will pursue a diplomatic solution through the U.N. but it will be blocked by the Russians.
“Yes, the red line has been crossed and the administration intends to respond, but how and where and when I’m not sure even they know yet,” Miller asserted.
Miller, who traveled to the Syrian/Turkish border for Newsmax, said she came away discouraged that the U.S. would be able to work with rebels.
“You can say we’re going to bomb airfields and keep their helicopters and planes on the ground, but once again, that might provoke a Syrian response,” she observed. “This could lead to a great escalation so my sympathies are with the administration on this one.”
She said that the crisis could lead to a disintegration of not just Syria, but Libya.
Meanwhile, some of Syria’s immediate neighbors — including, Jordan, Turkey, and Israel — appear to be more focused on internal matters.
“When you have a situation which the neighbors of the country falling apart are not willing to do more — that ought to tell you something — whether or not a red line has been crossed. And this is really difficult, difficult stuff,” Miller explained.
She added that Assad is not likely to be swayed by U.S. intervention either.
“I can’t wait to see how Assad responds, but I guarantee his reaction is not going to be ‘oh I’m trembling in fear of the American response,’” Miller said.