News / USA

    US Intelligence on Syria Yet to Sway Wavering Senators

    Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Sept. 5, 2013, following a closed-door briefing with national security officials on the situation in Syria.
    Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Sept. 5, 2013, following a closed-door briefing with national security officials on the situation in Syria.
    Michael Bowman
    U.S. intelligence on Syria presented to senators in secret Thursday strengthened the resolve of those already backing a military strike but failed to lead wavering lawmakers to declare their support. Inside the closed-door hearing, the senators heard from U.S. field operatives brought to Capitol Hill to strengthen to case for punishing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

    Emerging from the classified briefing Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said the evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria was far more persuasive than what lawmakers were provided before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

    “The intelligence is different. It is much better. It is conclusive on the fact that these weapons were used [in Syria],” she said.

    Last week, Feinstein expressed hope that the international community would punish Syria for last month’s attacks that killed more than 1,400 people. But with no broad coalition materializing, she said the United States must act.

    “Once the [Obama] administration made this call, I think there is a real need for us to back it up, or America becomes a paper tiger,” said Feinstein.

    Feinstein said she was lobbying fellow senators to vote for a resolution - already approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - authorizing the use of force against Syria.

    Other senators were non-committal before the intelligence briefing, and remained so afterwards.

    “This is not a choice between doing nothing and a military strike. There are other ways to put pressure internationally on the Assad regime. So I have not yet reached the conclusion on how I will vote,” said Republican Susan Collins.

    Democratic Senator Ron Wyden was also undecided.

    “The evidence that Assad engaged in the barbaric use of chemical weapons is clear. What the effects of a military strike will be is not clear,” he said.

    Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski said she had “more questions than answers” about a military strike. She ridiculed what she viewed as the international community’s tepid response to events in Syria.

    “I want to know where the hell is the U.N.," she said. "Are they always there when you do not need them?”

    By contrast, Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss said action was overdue. “I have been in support of taking action since day one,” he said.

    The full Senate is expected to vote on the resolution authorizing the use of force next week. The measure calls for degrading Syria’s military capabilities, but specifically proscribes the deployment of U.S. ground forces there. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is considering a similar measure, but no date has been set for a vote in that chamber of Congress.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora