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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Nielsen's, Sina Weibo Team Up for Closer Look at Chinese Social Media

    US-based rating agency reaches deal with China's Twitter-like service to gauge marketing effectiveness on platform which has more than 200 million users

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora