While it seems clear Kerry asserts 'we know' what Assad has done, the actual language of Washington's Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013 does not necessarily bear that out.
'The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013'To 'assess with high confidence' is not the same as to 'support with evidence'. The line is immediately followed with 'We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack', The agent is not defined. It is repeatedly referred to as 'nerve agent' only.
The next chunk of jargon drenched absurdity comes with the assertion 'These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting'. It's an amalgam of all the unproven 'evidence' amassed in a mendacious manner.
The test has to come with who provided the sources and who would benefit from them. There is no mention of the sources or where they came from which would suggest that the US does not want a UN discussion on who was exactly responsible because the assumption it is Assad is politically convenient.
'To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of what took place.'In which case, the repeated use of the word 'assess' is irrelevant. It really means that the US is judging rather than assessing because any objective assessment would depend on evidence beyond social media videos and accepting the initial casualty figure of 1,400 deaths put forth by the opposition.
This is confirmed by the following statement,
'In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts'.The US government needs to footnote the sources so that they can be investigated by objective observers. Without this the 'assessment' could be that this is disparate evidence rolled into a seamless unity in order to act as a pretext for an intervention that the US and 'rebels' wanted.
The 'assessment' goes on,
'A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information'.The 'assessment' is preliminary and tends towards the conclusion that the US has assumed the initial total of deaths is the same as that offered by the FSA estimates when news of the attack was first released into the international media. The rest of the 'assessment' is not conclusive sourced evidence.
It reads as though US government has determined what the assessment shall be in the manner that 'public diplomacy' does in framing the assessment to fit in with a policy of coercion that is deemed by Washington to be in the USA's national interests.