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

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More