NBC Reporter Claims U.S. Officials 'Fairly Confident' Assad Behind Attack, Changes Story One Minute Later

Chris Menahan
Apr. 12, 2018

NBC News' Courtney Kube reported Thursday that anonymous "US officials" say they're "fairly confident" Bashar al-Assad was behind last week's alleged chemical attack in Douma, but then said one minute later the officials "were not willing to characterize" their level of confidence to her.

On MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin, Kube said "US officials" told her the US has "blood and urine samples" from some of the victims of the attack and they tested positive for "chlorine" and a "nerve agent," though they won't say "for certain" it was sarin.

She goes on to claim: "US officials are now fairly confident that in fact this was the Syrian regime that carried out this attack."

MSNBC host Craig Melvin then asks her one minute later: "To what degree of certainty are these officials confident that it was in fact Bashar al-Assad who is behind these attacks?"

Kube responds: "Well, you'll often hear intelligence officials talk about level of confidence in a low level or a high level. The people I spoke with we're not willing to characterize it as one or another. They would not give me the actual analysis, but they are saying now that they have increasing evidence that in fact it was the Syrian regime that carried this out."

The "officials" were "not willing to characterize" their confidence as a "low level or a high level," but they were "fairly confident?"

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Both cannot simultaneously be true.

Here's how they reported it on NBC News' website (where they scrubbed the whole "fairly confident" waffling bit and just said they were "confident," "though not 100 percent sure"):
The samples suggested the presence of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent, two officials said. Typically, such samples are obtained through hospitals and collected by U.S. or foreign intelligence assets on the ground. The officials said they were "confident" in the intelligence, though not 100 percent sure.

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