Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday echoed President Obama’s warning to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. will not tolerate his forces using chemical weapons against rebels in the country’s civil war. “We have sent an unmistakable message that this would cross a red line and those responsible would be held to account,” she said. Meanwhile, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates cautioned Assad that he should take the Obama administration’s warning seriously. “One of the things about President Obama, he is very tough-minded,” Gates said on CBS. “I think it would be a mistake, particularly on Bashar Assad’s part, to underestimate him.”
In other news:
The Washington Post reports: The United States and like-minded governments are rushing to fund and legitimize a newly formed Syrian opposition group amid fear that plans for a political transition are being outpaced by rebel military gains.
Reuters exclusive report: Iranian oil tankers are sending incorrect satellite signals that confuse global tracking systems and appear to conceal voyages made by other ships to Syria, which, like Iran, is subject to international sanctions.
Despite widespread international condemnation, including by the United States and the European Union, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that he has no plans of backing down on his government’s approval of expanding settlement blocks in the West Bank, a move that many say will seriously imperil the prospect of a two-state solution.
Defense News reports: The Pentagon has officially begun planning for how it would carry out the first $50 billion across-the-board spending cut as part of the 10-year, $500 billion sequestration cuts set to take effect Jan. 2.
And finally, the Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI is pursuing foreign hackers who targeted the computers of retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.