Obama seeking congressional OK for Syria action

President challenges lawmakers to consider 'what message will we sent if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price'
Associated Press
Aug 31, 2013

Delaying what had loomed as an imminent strike, President Barack Obama abruptly announced Saturday he will seek congressional approval before launching any military action meant to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack that killed hundreds.

With Navy ships on standby in the Mediterranean Sea ready to launch their cruise missiles, Obama said he had decided the United States should take military action and that he believes that as commander in chief, he has "the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization."

At the same time, he said, "I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be even more effective." His remarks were televised live in the United States as well as on Syrian state television with translation.

Congress is scheduled to return from a summer vacation on Sept. 9, and in anticipation of the coming debate, Obama challenged lawmakers to consider "what message will we sent if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price."

The president didn't say so, but his strategy carries enormous risks to his and the nation's credibility, which the administration has argued forcefully is on the line in Syria. Obama long ago said the use of chemical weapons was a "red line" that Syrian President Bashar Assad would not be allowed to cross with impunity.

Nor was it clear what options would be open to the president if he fails to win the backing of the House and Senate for the military measures he has threatened.

Only this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a humiliating defeat when the House of Commons refused to support his call for military action against Syria.

Either way, the developments marked a stunning turn in an episode in which Obama has struggled to gain international support for a strike, while dozens of lawmakers at home urged him to seek their backing.

Halfway around the world, Syrians awoke Saturday to state television broadcasts of tanks, planes and other weapons of war, and troops training, all to a soundtrack of martial music. Assad's government blames rebels in the Aug. 21 attack, and has threatened retaliation if it is attacked.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he was appealing to a Nobel Peace laureate rather than to a president, urged Obama to reconsider. A group that monitors casualties in the long Syrian civil war challenged the United States to substantiate its claim that 1,429 died in a chemical weapons attack, including more than 400 children.

By accident or design, the new timetable gives time for U.N. inspectors to receive lab results from the samples they took during four days in Damascus, and to compile a final report. After leaving Syria overnight, the inspection team arrived in Rotterdam a few hours before Obama spoke.

The group's leader was expected to brief Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday.

Republicans generally expressed satisfaction at Obama's decision to seek congressional support, and challenged him to make his case to the public and lawmakers alike that American power should be used to punish Assad.

"We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised," House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and other House Republican leaders said in a joint statement.

"In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th. This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people."

New York Republican Rep. Peter King was among the dissenters, strongly so. "President Obama is abdicating his responsibility as commander in chief and undermining the authority of future presidents," he said. "The president doesn't need 535 Members of Congress to enforce his own red line."

Senior administration officials said Obama told aides on Friday night that he had changed his mind about ordering a strike against Syria without seeking congressional approval first, making a final decision after a long discussion with his chief of staff Denis McDonough.

It was unclear what pressure Republican or Democratic lawmakers had brought on Obama, if any, although dozens have signed letters calling on him not to act unilaterally.

But had he gone ahead with a military strike, he would have become the first U.S. leader in three decades to attack a foreign nation without mustering broad international support or acting in direct defense of Americans. Not since 1983, when President Ronald Reagan ordered an invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada, has the U.S. been so alone in pursuing major lethal military action beyond a few attacks responding to strikes or threats against its citizens.

For now, it appeared that the administration's effort at persuasion was already well underway.

The administration plunged into a series of weekend briefings for lawmakers, both classified and unclassified, and Obama challenged lawmakers to consider "what message will we send to a dictator" if he is allowed to kill hundreds of children with chemical weapons without suffering any retaliation.

At the same time, a senior State Department official said Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Syrian Opposition Coalition President Ahmed Assi al-Jarba to underscore Obama's commitment to holding the Assad government accountable for the Aug. 21 attack.

While lawmakers are scheduled to return to work Sept. 9, officials said it was possible the Senate might come back to session before then.

Obama said Friday he was considering "limited and narrow" steps to punish Assad, adding that U.S. national security interests were at stake. He pledged no U.S. combat troops on the ground in Syria, where a civil war has claimed more than 100,000 civilian lives.

In Syria, some rebels expressed unhappiness with the president, one rebel commander said he did not consider Obama's decision to be a retreat. "On the contrary, he will get the approval for congress and then the military action will have additional credibility," said Qassem Saadeddine.

"Just because the strike was delayed by few days doesn't mean it's not going to happen," he said.

With Obama struggling to gain international backing for a strike, Putin urged him to reconsider his plans. "We have to remember what has happened in the last decades, how many times the United States has been the initiator of armed conflict in different regions of the world, said Putin, a strong Assad ally. "Did this resolve even one problem?"

Even the administration's casualty estimate was grist for controversy.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organization that monitors casualties in the country, said it has confirmed 502 deaths, nearly 1,000 fewer than the American intelligence assessment claimed.

Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the organization, said he was not contacted by U.S. officials about his efforts to collect information about the death toll in the Aug. 21 attacks.

"America works only with one part of the opposition that is deep in propaganda," he said, and urged the Obama administration to release the information its estimate is based on.

Obama was buffeted, as well, by some lawmakers challenging his authority to strike Syria without congressional approval, and also by others who urged him to intervene more forcefully than he has signaled he will.

In the hours before Obama's Rose garden announcement, he was joined at the White House by top advisers.

Vice President Joseph Biden, who had planned a holiday weekend at home in Delaware, was among them. So, too, were Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and other top administration officials.

In the famously flammable Middle East, Israel readied for the possible outbreak of hostilities. The Israeli military disclosed it has deployed an "Iron Dome" missile defense battery in the Tel Aviv area to protect civilians from any possible missile attack from next-door Syria or any of its allies.

Missile defenses were deployed in the northern part of the country several days ago, and large crowds have been gathering at gas mask-distribution centers to pick up protection kits.

 

Comments

thinkagain

Give it a rest already will ya? No one, except Obama sycophants and the feeble minded, buy into that lying, hypocritical revisionists malarkey.

Contango

Re: "warmongering"

Looks like the Nobel Peace Prize winner has his own bloody list:

Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mali, et al.

Also, LBJ was the CLASSIC Democrat warmonger, i.e. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

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

bullydogs1971

A List Of Children Killed By Drone Strikes In Pakistan and Yemen

http://www.policymic.com/article...

Centauri

Yemen and Pakistan are one of the top countries that hate the United States. The United States in now an "evil empire" to many countries. If the US were personified, many countries would view the US as an arrogant bully who wants to take over the whole world and to hell with other countries and its people. The US has military bases all over the world and also assassinates the leaders of other countries.

War only brings more war. Give peace a chance. The US needs to stop acting like an arrogant bully. The rich ruling class of Americans also are arrogant bullies to other Americans. I lost thousands of dollars to the crooks on Wall Street who faced no criminal charges. These crooks are part of the rich ruling class and continue to steal more money. They also got bonuses for stealing the money.

Darwin's choice

Another outright lie Coasterfan!! Again, saying it to make it true only happens in the Wizard of Oz !!

JudgeMeNot

coasterfan,
bush's warmongering buddies.

Democrat Quotes on Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
--President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
--President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
--Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
--Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton, signed by:
-- Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others, Oct. 9, 1998

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
-Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
-- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
Letter to President Bush, Signed by:
-- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), and others, Dec 5, 2001

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and th! e means of delivering them."
-- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
-- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
-- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
-- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
-- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
-- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
-- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do"
-- Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
-- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
-- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."
-- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003

bullydogs1971

Why Americans are Against War on Syria
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n...

bullydogs1971

Awaken - The Change Starts With You
https://www.youtube.com/watch?fe...

bullydogs1971

The Real Reason for NATO Attacking Libya EXPOSED

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...

bullydogs1971

The Terrifying Future of The United States

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1...

Centauri

http://www.youtube.com/user/Stor...
180 videos by StormCloudsGathering worth the time to watch. The videos will cause most Americans to start asking some serious questions. Sadly some people have been brainwashed to the point of no return and will refuse to look at anything that exposes the truth and the lies.

bullydogs1971

Viewer discretion is advised!
https://www.facebook.com/obsessi...

Darwin's choice

So, Obama has been supporting the rebels, and now, there is proven evidence that the gas "attack" was the result of an accident by those same rebels!! Seems Obama and Kerry are backing the wrong horse again! Almost like that "fast and furious" farce he's responsible for. How about it Coasterfan, 4shizzle, Big Dog, Deertracker? Another Obama FAIL!

http://www.examiner.com/article/...

tk

Congress was asking the President to bring it to them and now that he has said he will, they are complaining that he is. It doesn't matter what this President does the Republicans are going to criticize him.

Darwin's choice

Hopefully, every Republican will vote like Obama, "present", and throw this squarely on the Democrats to live or die with!!!

The Big Dog's back

We know the Repubs are cowards, treasonous chickenhawks.

shucks

Slanderous too.

JudgeMeNot

We all know you have such intelligent comments. Keep em coming 4sizzles cause you just might be the smartest out off the other like deerwaker, big dope is back and coasterfan.

shucks

Flattery will get you nowhere.

Darwin's choice

Nope, no intelligence there....!

Typical responses, "look, a squirrel......"

shucks

Hi shitbrain !

Darwin's choice

You are so smart.....

shucks

Not as smart as you.

The Big Dog's back

Exactly tk.

Mystery_Cheese

Just like Democrats criticized everything every Republican president has done? Both sides are a bunch of whiny babies, so let's not just blame one side of this dirty, beat-up coin.

Really are you ...

Let Syria fight amongst itself. There is not 100% proof of which side used chemical weapons. During our civil war, we did not have any other nation trying to intervene. The United States is not the World Police, we can not afford it financially, and this will put us on the brink of WWIII. UN member Turkey is the next country to the north. What does Turkey say?

Nemesis

Very good point. In the context of the technology of the time, Sherman's conduct in Georgia was every bit as egregious as anything Assad has done. What would Mr. Lincoln say if England and France had decided that burning Atlanta was a "red line" that "altered the calculus" and compelled them to intervene on behalf of the Confederacy? The world kept its nose out when this country had an internal dispute; we should grant the rest of the nations of the world the same respect.

The Big Dog's back

Actually the world didn't keep it's nose out of our civil war.

Contango

Re: "Actually the world didn't keep it's nose out of our civil war."

The Federal blockade was effective. Both France and Britain sat it out.

Stop It

They both, (France and Britain) still got their respective supplies delivered.

Pages