I have already blogged about how the Obama administration denied elementary chemical weapons protection to the opposition in: Obama Denied Gas Masks to Assad's Victims
The United States has an excess supply of gas masks left over from the Iraq War filling up warehouses all over the region and yet Obama turned down persistent requests for them from the people Assad was killing even after he started killing them with gas.
Lack of gas masks, or other protection. That is one reason the death toll was so high.
Lack of warning is another. The attack took place at 3 o'clock in the morning, catching most people asleep. Now from the White House's own report, we find that they saw this attack coming as much as three days in advance but the told no one in Syria. They sounded no alarm at the UN and they didn't take any preemptive military action to stop the attack and save those lives.
According to the official "Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013" released on 30 August 2013:
We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.This last is just US imperialism running true to form, coincidentally Foreign Policy ran an article this week detailing how the CIA helped Saddam Hussein gas Iran. Here again, the US had advanced knowledge and let the attack go forward without warning.
Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of ‘Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilization of gas masks. Our intelligence sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in the days prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to use chemical weapons.
These two White House decisions, first to withhold gas masks and then to withhold advanced warning to people, some of who are dead now as as result of these decisions, does nothing to booster Barack Obama's claim that he should be punishing anybody for these deaths.
And now that we know that the British where selling the Assad regime the chemicals it used to make nerve gas ten months after Assad started killing Syrians big time, we can see that NATO has a lot of Syrian blood on its hands without dropping a single bomb but it is all a result of its collaboration with the Assad regime not its plots against Assad.
That the West should quietly support Bashar al-Assad's poison gas project should surprise no one who can tear themselves away from all the current talk about how these countries lied about Saddam Hussein just having poison gas to remember what they did (and didn't do) when he actually used them to kill thousands. They didn't stop the dictator from poisoning his people then and they won't this one now but at least then the Left wasn't cheering them on.
IMPORTANT UPDATE 4 Sept 2013: Upon further information and reflection my charge that they knew about the chemical attack three days before and failed to warn anybody may not be warranted. As we have learn from the Snowden revelations, the way they do surveillance these days is that they record everything but don't necessarily listen at the time. I think it likely that they routinely capture and record all SSA communications without reading it. So I now think it possible that only after the gas attack did they look at that traffic and see events leading up to it.
UPDATE 5 Sept 2013 This AP story confirms my suspicions in the update above.