News / USA

Obama Administration Briefing Lawmakers on Syria Evidence

Congressional vehicles are seen arriving at the White House (file photo).Congressional vehicles are seen arriving at the White House (file photo).
x
Congressional vehicles are seen arriving at the White House (file photo).
Congressional vehicles are seen arriving at the White House (file photo).
As the Obama administration prepared to brief U.S. lawmakers on evidence it says shows Syrian government responsibility for using chemical weapons against civilians, the White House faced more tough questions about that intelligence.

Americans' memories of past conflicts remain fresh, such as the one in Iraq launched by Republican president George W. Bush that raised questions about the reliability of intelligence.

With military action appearing more imminent, the White House is being bombarded with questions about U.S. evidence concerning the August 21 chemical attack in Damascus.  

Washington and key allies blame the attack, which killed hundreds, on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian government denies it.

On Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said there is a "clear legal basis" for military action, but also that there is "no single smoking piece of intelligence" that the Assad regime used chemical weapons.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the United States will rely on its own intelligence assessment to back up the decision President Barack Obama makes.

He also was pressed about the credibility of intelligence, and asked whether Obama believes Syria poses an imminent threat to the United States itself.

"I am not going to parse the president's words any further on this. I think the president has been very clear and I have done my best to describe to you all of the national interests that the president believes are important, that he was elected to protect, that are at stake here."

Obama outlined some of those interests in an interview Wednesday with the Public Broadcasting Service.

"We have got allies bordering Syria, Turkey is a NATO ally, Jordan a close friend that we work with a lot, Israel is very close by, we have got bases throughout the region. We cannot see a breach of the nonproliferation norm that allows potentially chemical weapons to fall into the hands of all kinds of folks," said the president.

Key Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, were briefing members of Congress late Thursday.

At least 116 lawmakers, most of them Republicans, have signed a letter urging Obama to seek clear congressional authorization before giving the go-ahead for any military strike.

Congressman Scott Rigell asserts the president is required to do so under the 1973 War Powers Resolution and the U.S. Constitution.

“To follow the United States Constitution, he really does need, provided he believes that use of force is both warranted and imminent, he does need to call us into a joint session, make the case before the American people, allow us a reasonable amount of time to deliberate the matter and then to issue specific statutory authority prior to the use of force.“

The 1973 War Powers Resolution reaffirmed Congress' constitutional responsibility to declare war and put a 60-day time limit on the ability of a president to take unauthorized, emergency military action.

Deputy Press Secretary Earnest avoided a direct response when asked if the president believes Congress should have a vote on military action, saying only that Obama is committed to robust consultations.

"What the president believes is that as he considers the appropriate response to this circumstance, it is important for his administration to consult with Congress in a very robust way and that is what we are seeing has happened," said Earnest.

Obama spoke by telephone late Thursday with the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

Boehner, according to a spokesman, sought answers about the legal justification for any military strike and the policy and precedent such a response would set, and objectives and strategy.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JohnWV from: USA
August 30, 2013 6:58 AM
Syria killed a few hundred with chemical weapons. Israel, our "inseparable ally," ghettoized over a million and killed hundreds of times more than Syria, often with chemicals (white phosphorous) and other internationally illegal weapons. The scourge of the Mid-East is Israel, not Syria.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid