Obama hints at potential military action in Syria

President Barack Obama signaled Tuesday he would consider U.S. military action against Syria if "hard, effective evidence" is found to bolster intelligence that chemical weapons have been used in the 2-year-old civil war.
Associated Press
May 1, 2013

President Barack Obama signaled Tuesday he would consider U.S. military action against Syria if "hard, effective evidence" is found to bolster intelligence that chemical weapons have been used in the 2-year-old civil war. Among the potential options being readied for him: weapons and ammunition for the Syrian rebels.

Despite such planning, Obama appealed for patience during a White House news conference, saying he needed more conclusive evidence about how and when chemical weapons detected by U.S. intelligence agencies were used and who deployed them. If those questions can be answered, Obama said he would consider actions the Pentagon and intelligence community have prepared for him in the event Syria has crossed his chemical weapons "red line."

"There are options that are available to me that are on the shelf right now that we have not deployed," he told reporters packed into the White House briefing room.

Beyond lethal aid to the rebels, several government agencies are also drafting plans for establishing a protective "no-fly zone" over Syria and for targeted missile strikes, according to officials familiar with the planning. However, the officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the internal deliberations, stressed that Obama had not yet decided to proceed on any of the plans.

As Obama raised the prospect of deeper U.S. involvement, Hezbollah's leader said Tuesday that his Iranian-backed militant group stood ready to aid Syrian President Bashar Assad. And new violence in Syria hit the capital of Damascus, as a powerful bomb ripped through a bustling commercial district, killing at least 14 people.

Mindful that any military intervention in the combustible Middle East would be complicated and dangerous, Obama hinted the U.S. would probably avoid taking action unilaterally. Part of the rationale for building a stronger chemical weapons case against Assad, Obama said, is to avoid being in a position "where we can't mobilize the international community to support what we do."

Obama has resisted calls to expand U.S. assistance beyond the nonlethal aid the government is providing the rebels. That has frustrated some allies as well as some U.S. lawmakers, who say the deaths of 70,000 Syrians should warrant a more robust American response.

Tuesday's wide-ranging news conference coincided with the 100-day mark of Obama's second term. It's a stretch that has been defined by the defeat of gun control legislation he supported, as well as the continuation of old disputes that marked the president's first four years in office, including the Syria conflict and the launching of his controversial health care overhaul. Asked if he still had "the juice" to get legislation approved, he smiled and paraphrased Mark Twain's famous line, saying, "Rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point."

Another issue that frustrated Obama in his first term resurfaced when he was pressed about the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, the detention center he promised to close but hasn't been able to. Obama said he would make another run at it, though he was vague about how.

"I'm going to go back at this," he said. "I've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I'm going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the American people."

The president also took questions for the first time about the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings that rattled the nation two weeks ago. He defended the FBI's 2011 investigation into Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspect who was killed, a probe that resulted in the bureau finding no evidence that he was a threat to the United States.

Russia has since provided more information about Tsarnaev and his mother — both ethnic Chechens— that could have resulted in a more rigorous FBI investigation.

Obama pointedly said that Moscow has been cooperative "since the Boston bombings." He made no reference to information being held back ahead of the attack, but he did say, "Old habits die hard. There are still suspicions sometimes between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies that date back 10, 20, 30 years, back to the Cold War."

Russia has also stymied U.S. efforts at the United Nations to mount pressure against Assad's embattled government in Syria.

Assad has refused to let a U.N. team into the areas near Damascus and Aleppo where chemical weapons are believed to have been used. The White House says the team is standing by and could deploy to Syria within 48 hours if Assad allows it in. Given the unlikelihood of Assad giving the inspectors access, the U.S. says it is also seeking answers on its own and through international partners.

Polling suggests war-weary Americans are reluctant to see the U.S. get involved in another conflict in the Middle East. A CBS News/New York Times poll out Tuesday shows 62 percent of Americans say the country does not have a responsibility to intervene in the fighting in Syria, while 24 percent say the government does have that responsibility.

While Obama insists all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with Syria, the White House has little appetite for putting American soldiers into combat there. Even Arizona's Republican Sen. John McCain, who has pressed for aggressive U.S. involvement, has said putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria would be a mistake.

Underscoring the danger that could await, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group said Tuesday that Syrian rebels will not be able to defeat Assad's forces by themselves, suggesting the government's friends, including his Iranian-backed group would intervene on the government side if necessary.

Hezbollah and Iran are close allies of Assad, both accused by rebels of sending fighters to assist Syrian troops.

In Washington, Obama also took questions Tuesday about the immigration debate on Capitol Hill. Obama said that while a bill crafted by eight senators — four Democrats and four Republicans — was not the legislation he would have written, "I do think that it meets the basic criteria that I laid out from the start."

Obama also defended the implementation of the health care overhaul he signed in his first term, though he said there will be "glitches and bumps" as the sweeping law is fully implemented. He cited the unveiling Tuesday of simplified forms for people applying for insurance as an example of the administration trying to make the rollout of the law's final stages smoother.

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Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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Comments

Darwin's choice

Didn't he win the Nobel Peace Prize ?? Also, thats a great photo of Obama.....

Pete

The Nobel commision awarding him the prize based on "potential" is a slap across the face of the ones who earned it.

Raoul Duke

Better check his portfolio.

Contango

Will the Obamabots slavishly support their messiah if he decides to go to war AGAIN?

"Be the first one on your block to have your boy (or girl) come home in a box"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x...

KnuckleDragger

Of course they will, they are afraid someone will think they are racist if they don't. Remember war + republican= unjust, war + demokook= just.

JMOP

So Syria is where Saddam Hussein's WMD were hidden.

KnuckleDragger

Yup, that was already proven by satellite footage showing Saddams forces moving them across the Syrian border. The problem is the media squashed it because they were too busy trying to make Bush look bad.

Contango

@ KD:

Yea and they’ll also "conveniently" forget that after the Iraqi invasion, that Libya got the (bleep) scared out of them and began dismantling their WMD program.

U.S. and British Intelligence said that they were further along in development than they were aware.

Be interesting to see if there is a "Made in Iraq" stamp on the Syrian WMD.

Saddam was and Assad is a member of the Baath Party. Probably no possiblity of collusion there. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dis...

The Big Dog's back

bullspit.

Darwin's choice

Allen West “The Obama administration is indeed aiding, enabling, and abetting our enemy, radical Islamic jihadists”
Posted by allenwestrepublic on May 1, 2013

shucks

Gospel truth from another Right-wing wack site.

shucks

Bush made Bush look bad.

deertracker

Even W said there were no weapons found. Bush did not need any help looking bad. He took care of that all by himself. America needs to stay out of Syria, leave Afghanistan and close Gitmo immediately. Take care of our own country for a change!

Darwin's choice

From another site.......

"Sitting in a Pew in church, while reverently preparing for the service, I heard a sweet
little old lady, sitting next to me in the pew, quietly whispering a
prayer. It was so sweet and sincere that I just had to share it with
you.

She said,

Dear Lord, this has been a tough two or three years ...you have taken
my favorite actor Patrick Swayze, my favorite musician Michael
Jackson, my favorite salesman Billy Mays, my favorite actress
Elizabeth Taylor, my favorite singer Whitney Houston, and, now, my
favorite announcer Dick Clark. I just wanted you to know that my
favorite politician is Barack Obama.

Amen."

Centauri

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wo...
"President Obama is preparing to send lethal weaponry to the Syrian opposition and has taken steps to assert more aggressive U.S. leadership among allies and partners seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, according to senior administration officials."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/ne...
"A Syrian rebel group's pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda's replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group's influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad."

Obama is going to give aid to al-Qaeda? Isn't that treason?

The Big Dog's back

bullspit.

2cents's picture
2cents

Most know I am not a big Obo fan but he is in a tight spot! I think the bottom line is not that Bashar would not use them on the people in country but who would get their hands on these things? You know, the crazy jihadists would want to kill American’s with them in a heartbeat if they could. Whatever happens I bet you see action to secure these things, and that would mean boots on the ground.

JACKEL

That is there religion,to kill us .

Really are you ...

Why? Let them kill themselves. They have not threatened US soil. North Korea has threatened US soil. World War III is going to be started by a third world country. If we go to war with Syria, Iran, or North Korea we will be dangerously close to going to war with not only one of those countries, But with Russia and or China also.

KURTje

We've been there awhile. (small American group) History years from now will validate.

Contango

(Third Request)

@ Dawg:

So if Pres. Obama decides to get involved in the Syrian civil war - you'll support him RIGHT?

Pete

Blind allegience knows no bounds.

TrollingRageind...

Iraq should have been a 6 month deal at most, not going in at all was preferable, but 9/11 had perfect timing in encouraging the ignorant masses to let the "gubbament" invade the middle east. Bush was bad, but Obama had a chance to pull out, instead he disbands part's of the middle east's police force to have a "reason" to stay longer. Republican, democrat, both the same, if we stay in this two party system, things won't get better. Both parties are unamerican and unconstitutional. If you ever voted for either, blame yourself, not the person you voted in.

JACKEL

What's the matter are his Muslim Buddies losing control ?He propped up Egypt with one of his buddies that wants to destroy us and Israel.Then he goes around congress and sends them 20 F16's.They would have impeached anyone else!

luvblues2

I'm starting to think that every POTUS needs/wants to be able to start a war/conflict somewhere, somehow. Just throw a few country's names in a hat, that tend to piss you off and draw one out. It makes money for somebody. Who in turn, pay you back.

Contango

Two of the best ways for a corrupt ruling class to prop up a faltering economy: War and debt.

WWII 'solved' the Great Depression.

On the other hand: Since WWII, the military industrial complex's "Endless War" has helped add to the U.S. GDP, but at a great cost in lives and resources.

If they don't have enemies, the American Ruling Class makes 'em.

It's ALL for the good of the country's economic and political security ya know? The important thing is to "wage" a war, not to "win" it.

"We've always been at war with Eastasia" - "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

luvblues2

No BS, Contango. Name me one person in the three branches of the federal gov't who doesn't have it made for life. People are getting tired. It won't be pretty when it falls down.

Contango

We have to restrict and take away your rights in order to protect our American way of life.

Saw the following this morning:

http://www.zerohedge.com/contrib...

Yet, we're spending billions annually to fight overseas terrorists.

Great movie, if you ever wanna watch it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t...

The movie used to be free on YouTube, don't know if it still is.

Really are you ...

But if war was used to prop up our faltering economy, we should have a national surplus. We just fought two wars in Iraq and are still in Afghanistan. From the wars in Iraq, President Bush's vice president Dick Cheney who was CEO of Haliburton prior to 2000, was one of the few companies that benefited from rebuilding Iraq after we tore it up. Maybe back in the day when the world was a different place, a war would have made a difference in the outcome of rebuilding the USA. But now the money stays at the top.

goofus

Two wars in Iraq?????? I betcha General Dynamics, Raytheon,Northrup, and Martin Marietta made more than Haliburton. Did you know that then President Clinton gave Haliburton a no-bid contract. When you're the best in the world in your chosen field, you will get contracts and make money!!

arnmcrmn

The anti war Obie is thinking about war???? Oh say it isn't so. This guy is more of a joke as each and every day passes.

shucks

To many idiots commenting here.

KURTje

Time for some wannabes to enlist.

goofus

Don't be so down on yourself 4 shizzle

luvblues2

lol..

shucks

@goofus
Thanks, but it wasn't just you to whom I was referring to, there are many others.

EZOB

Yes, these people are killing each other. I'll use this analogy: two grizzly bears fighting to one's death. The loser might have been happy for your help but you wouldn't have been safe with him before the fight and you wouldn't be safe after the fight. People need to realize how much Americans are hated. If you could take a poll of the, say the last 1000 killed I'd say 80% hated us worse than the Rebels. In Iraq it's easy to see the few hundred that support us but you'll seldom see the thousands that hate us.