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The Russian ambassador to the European Union condemned any use of chemical weapons, but said the UN Security Council had yet to see any evidence of an attack in Syria.
“I understand that there has been a lot of talk by Western leaders about undeniable evidence,” Vladimir Chizhov told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. “But none of that has been provided to the Security Council.”
Click above to see Amanpour’s full interview with Chizhov.
By Mick Krever, CNN
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino on Wednesday injected a heavy dose of scepticism into the debate over whether the West should intervene in Syria in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“Selective intelligence has already been a cause of some other intervention, which didn’t prove very positive,” Bonino said, referring to the war in Iraq.
“I strongly believe that chemical weapons are a crime against humanity and what happened is really unacceptable, and the responsible have to be brought to be accountable,” she said, but added that it is not “wise” to intervene without United Nations Security Council approval.
“It’s also worrying that people are already preparing a coalition of the willing even before tabling a resolution at the UN,” she said. “Frankly, I don’t know what they – this coalition is really willing to do. Punish Assad? Ending the conflict? I don’t know. It’s totally not clear to me.”
Former Israeli intelligence chief General Amos Yadlin told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday that the world can rest assured that any American claims that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons are accurate.
“The American intelligence community is very, very careful after Iraq, 2003. And I know personally most of them. I know personally General Clapper, with the DNI,” Yadlin said from Jerusalem. “When I hear the determination of Secretary Kerry, I know that the intelligence is very solid. When he says that Assad has done it, I think that the American public and the international community should trust that this is a very reliable intelligence.”
Before the alleged chemical attack outside Damascus last week, Israeli intelligence overheard Syrian military commanders discussing moving chemical weapons to the area of the attack, CNN learned from diplomatic sources. That intelligence was shared with the United States.
Nearly fifty years ago, an American preacher named Martin Luther King, Jr., stepped in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to give one of the most important and memorable speeches in history.
“America has given the Negro people a bad check – a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds,’” King told the assembled crowd. “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
Five decades later, has America given its black citizens the check granting the freedom and justice that King so passionately sought?
“We made tremendous progress as a result of the March on Washington,” Maya Wiley, a civil rights activist whose Center for Social Inclusion fights inequality, told CNN’s Hala Gorani on Thursday.
“It’s part of how we got some of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal to discriminate employment,” Wiley said, “[and] how we got the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
But the check King talked about, Wiley said, has not yet been fully cashed.
“We’ve dealt so much with overt racism,” she told Gorani, who was sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. “We still have it in society – but we have a much more complex set of dynamics happening now.”
CNN's Frederik Pleitgen speaks with CNN's Hala Gorani from Damascus, Syria, where there are fresh allegations of a chemical weapons attack.
By Mick Krever and Claire Calzonetti, CNN
Bo Xilai, a Chinese politican beloved in his hometown, was once considered a top contender for his country’s leadership; now, after a dramatic and sudden fall, he is on trial for corruption and abuse of power.
He stands accused of not only taking millions of dollars in bribes, but also of covering up the murder of a British businessman by his own wife.
But to one veteran China watcher, Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution, the trial says more about China’s leadership than it does about Bo.
“The leadership are focused on corruption,” Li told CNN’s Hala Gorani on Thursday, as Bo’s trial began in the city of Jinan. “That itself makes sense from the leadership perspective because they don’t want to further review all these terrible things happening in China among Chinese elite, especially some of the princelings.”
The senior British official who asked the Guardian to destroy hard drives containing leaked information about the NSA was “acting on behalf of the prime minister,” David Cameron, Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger said on Wednesday.
Rusbridger said that the official, whom he said has now been identified as Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, first contacted him in mid June.
“He said he was acting on behalf of the prime minster,” Rusbridger said. “For a period of a month, it was a cordial conversation.”
But by mid-July, Rusbridger said, “it became an explicit threat of legal action if we didn’t either return the disks or destroy them.”
The Guardian complied, physically destroying the hard drives – Rusbridger has even tweeted a photo of a dismembered Macbook Pro.
“The point, which I explained to the British officials, was that Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter, lives in Brazil,” Rusbridger told CNN’s Hala Gorani, who was sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. “He has a copy, and we already have another copy in America. So destroying a copy in London wasn’t going to stop us from reporting.”
"The president has been clear, the secretary has been clear, that the use of chemical weapons is absolutely unacceptable," U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jennifer Psaki told CNN's Hala Gorani on Wednesday.
It now seems as though that red line in the Syrian conflict may have been crossed, again, this time outside the capital, Damascus.
Psaki said the U.S. was calling for "unfettered" access for an investigative team to look into the incident, but also said that she did not "want to look into a crystal ball" and predict what the U.S.'s response might be should the use of chemical weapons be confirmed.
"We’ve been clear that boots on the ground is not part of the options being considered, but all options remain on the table," Psaki said. "I'm not going to outline those here."
Click above to watch Gorani's full interview with Psaki.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is not responsible for the torching of Christian churches, Ahmed Kamal, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, told CNN's Hala Gorani on Wednesday.
"We do not accept any accept any attack that is being subjected to any house of worship," Kamal said on the phone from Cairo, "whether that is for Muslims or for Christians."
Click above to watch Gorani's full interview with Kamal.
It is “more and more likely” that chemical weapons were used in an attack outside Damascus, a Chemical, biological, and nuclear threat analyst told CNN’s Hala Gorani on Wednesday.
“Initially what I thought is that it could well be a concentrated riot control agent,” Gwyn Winfield said. But “as the footage has sort of gone on, it looks more and more likely that some kind of organophosphate – so that is some kind of nerve agent – has been used.”
Survivors, portrayed in videos posted online, are “showing more sort of typical chemical warfare agent signs and symptoms.”
Winfield was not able to identify what type of agent may have been used, but said that it did not appear to be a “pure weapons-grade” attack.
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