A soft-spoken Bashar al-Assad looked right into the eyes of CBS’s Charlie Rose and lied, if the Obama administration’s case for bombing Syria is to be believed. There is “not a single shred of evidence” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, President Assad said, despite the indications, explained by the White House and seen by all on the Internet, that there was a sarin gas attack. “We’re not sure that anything happened,” Assad said. “Our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically, our soldiers. They went to the hospital, as casualties because of chemical weapons. But in the area where they said the government used chemical weapons, we only had video and we only have pictures and allegations. We’re not there.”
As teased, Assad sat down with Rose for an extended interview about the looming threat of war. Knowing full well that the American people oppose action, owing in large part to the specters of Iraq and Afghanistan, Assad played to those weaknesses. “We expected this administration to be different than George W. Bush,” he said, adding later, “That reminds me, about what Kerry said, about the big lie that Colin Powell said in front of the world on satellites about the WMD in Iraq before going to war when he said, ‘This is our evidence.’ Actually, he gave false evidence. In this case, Kerry didn’t even present any evidence.”
When Rose suggested evidence was presented to Congress, as representatives of the American people, Assad said, “If they had it, they would have presented it to you. You’re a reporter, get this evidence and show it to the public.”
If the bombs do fall, Assad said, “You should expect everything. You should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government. It’s not only the government are not the only player in this region.” He also invoked September 11. “It’s an area where everything is on the brink of explosion,” he said of the Middle East, citing the existence of terrorist groups outside government structures. “You have to expect everything.”
“Do you consider chemical warfare equivalent to nuclear warfare?” Rose asked. “I don’t know, we haven’t tried either,” said Assad. And then he laughed.
“Morally, they’re the same,” he added. “Killing is killing.”