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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs