At a Pentagon press briefing, Secretary Panetta dropped a bombshell as casually as if he were discussing the weather:
"There has been intelligence that there have been some moves that have taken place. Where exactly that's taken place, we don't know." Panetta said, in a Pentagon press briefing.
Panetta said that the "main sites" in Syria storing chemical weapons with which the Pentagon is most concerned remain secured by the Syrian military. But there is "some intelligence" that "limited" movements of weapons from other sites have occurred, he said, "for the Syrians to better secure what they - the chemicals."
Panetta's statement follows reporting that Syrian rebels claim to have taken control of a military base that contains chemical weapons.
"But with regards to the movement of some of this and whether or not they've been able to locate some of it," he said of U.S. intelligence, "we just don't know."
Following the briefing, Pentagon officials sought to clarify the extent of their grasp on the status of Syria's stockpiles. "We've never had perfect visibility into the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile, but we have excellent information that accounts for most of it," said a senior defense offiical, speaking on background. "We've seen it move, and we've been able to make an assessment as to why it's been moved. This is a highly distributed network of chemical weapons sites, and we have a good grasp of what's going on inside that network."
Syria's chemical weapons are top concern for the U.S. and for regional allies worried that they could let be stolen by rebels or terrorists organizations, or given to Iran for safekeeping. Another fear is that President Bashar al-Assad also could use them against neighboring countries, including Israel, to defense against potential outside military intervention by NATO, the U.S., or other powers. Panetta's comments come as rebels say they've begun a major battle for Aleppo "on all fronts."
Among those Syrian rebels, of course, are a lot of jihadists who march under the black banner of al-Qaeda. So when the rebels state that they have chemical weapons, it's almost the same as saying al-Qaeda has some - or at least has the opportunity to get its hands on them.
Next to Libya, Syria is the most obvious foreign policy failure for the Obama administration. But you won't hear a thing about it until after the election.The media musn't upset the voter, that may make them vote for Romney and we just can't have that.