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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.