"My friends, it matters here if nothing is done. It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens," said Secretary of State John Kerry in a speech this afternoon. "Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about." As Kerry called Bashar al-Assad "a thug and a murderer," the White House said in an intelligence report that it has "high confidence" the Syrian government was responsible for chemical-weapons attacks on civilians. "This is common sense. This is evidence. These are facts," said Kerry, calling the proof "clear" and "compelling."
"So the primary question is really no longer 'What do we know?'" said Kerry. "The question is whether we — we collectively — what are we and the world going to do about it?" Whether or not the government acts in response, he repeated, "matters deeply to the credibility and the future interests of the United States," not leaving much room to wonder which way the Obama administration is leaning.
Update: President Obama, speaking to reporters at the White House, insisted he has "not made any decision" yet. "We're not considering any open-ended commitment. We're not considering any boots on the ground approach," he said.
Only a "limited, narrow act" is being considered, said Obama. "We have consulted with allies. We have consulted with Congress."