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

be for real

If he goes on without the approval,they need to impeach him.Thats what is wrong in the white house,he does whatever he wants and nothing happens.

pntbutterandjelly

In my opinion.....Barack has now given Congress the opportunity to speak on behalf of the people who voted them into office. With that opportunity for real "representation" this decision has now become a classic, and correctly-handled, case for Democracy in action. What more can the voting public want or rightfully expect?
At the minimum...Barack didn't take the matters of war into his own hands under false pretenses ("Weapons of Mass Destruction")as our former President did. Therefore....which alternative is best? Proper representation or a one-man-show? (I choose Democracy)

Contango

Re: "Barack didn't take the matters of war into his own hands under false pretenses"

Reads more like waffling.

"Senior administration officials describing Obama's about-face Saturday offered a portrait of a president who began to wrestle with his own decision – at first internally, then confiding his views to his chief of staff, and finally summoning his aides for an evening session in the Oval Office to say he'd had a change of heart."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

Funny that he isn't once again blaming the Republicans for not agreeing with him.

Re: "false pretenses"

Better talk to the CIA who provided the evidence.

bondgirlM

Bush did not act on his own. He took it to Congress who voted to strike in Iraq and they voted that way because they (Congress) was given the same information that President Bush was given by Intelligence. The Liberals keep trying to rewrite History saying Bush took it upon himself. Well Hillary and Nancy and the bunch received the same intelligence information that Bush received and they felt it was warranted. You guys need to move on!

Contango

Re: "The Liberals keep trying to rewrite History saying Bush took it upon himself."

"Saddam deceived his own army and the best intelligence agencies in the world into believing he still had WMDs because he believed none of his enemies would dare attack him if he had WMDs."

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

Former Iraqi National Security Advisor and retired general officer of the Iraqi Air Force, Georges Sada wrote that the WMD was flown to Syria:

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

Centauri

"In my opinion.....Barack has now given Congress the opportunity to speak on behalf of the people who voted them into office."

Only a small number of voters cast their votes for Obama. The majority of voters cast their votes for other candidates or simply refused to cast votes. A non-voter still voted but their votes are not counted. If you ask a non-voter why they stayed home on election day, there are many excuses. The main one that I have heard was that they are all crooks no matter what party. Another was that their choice of a candidate lost in the primaries. Another excuse was that their candidate wasn't on the state ballot.

I didn't vote for Obama and certainly would not have voted for Romney. I voted for third candidates that past 21 years.

Obama does not "speak on behalf of the people who voted them into office" and many of those who voted for Obama now wish that they didn't.
Obama speaks on behalf of the rich ruling class who control the news media, wars and conflicts, jobs, money and the people. Obama does not speak for me or the majority of others.

How many of you would sacrifice the lives of your children and send them off to wars that only benefit the rich ruling class? People go along with wars as long as their children or loved are not part of any war or conflict.

Ever hear of NIMBY, an acronym for the phrase "Not In My Back Yard"?
That could also apply to almost anything such as a war as long as somebody else goes off to some stupid war based on lies.

red white and blue

How many times do we have to say NO!!!!!!!!!!

shepherd_of_fire

When you are getting advised by Putin......well you know it's bad. I always have faith in our intelligence but in this case I strongly disagree! Stay out of Syria!

Stop It

Let Syria deal with THEIR civil war. It has nothing to do with us. Nothing.

JudgeMeNot

Let Allah settle it for them.

Contango

Funny; when it comes to economic issues, the POTUS blames the Republicans for inactivity, says, "we can't wait" and then uses Executive action.

However, in regards to cruise missile strikes in Syria, the Waffler-in-Chief talks tough and then cowers behind congressional approval.

In Libya, he said that he didn't need or want congressional approval, but now he does?

As Senator Biden said:

"The presidency is not something that lends itself to on the job training."

SO TRUE.

2cents

I personally believe he wants to use congress to back down under their order to save face!

44846GWP

Winnie, if he went ahead and bombed without asking Congress, you would still be b-tching. No matter what he doesor did you wouldn't be happy. Why don't you just sit this one out, nobody wants to hear your flip/flopping

Contango

Re: "if he went ahead and bombed,"

So you DO support cruise missle strikes putz?

deertracker

Stop whining pooh! He is doing exactly what the law requires. He can't legally unilaterally attack Syria without cause. All this so called tough talk is media hype. He simply stated what actions warrant action. Those that want or expect him to just start shooting missiles don't know him very well. IMO, he should tell the Arab leaders to stand up for their people. We should stay out of it and I hope congress says NO!

Contango

Re: "He can't legally unilaterally attack Syria without cause."

And he ATTACKED Libya without "cause" and without congressional approval why?

The Big Dog's back

Without cause???????? You moroon, you were whining about Benghazi for how long????? Moroon.

Contango

Re: "Without cause????????"

Answer the question putz:

And he ATTACKED Libya without "cause" and without congressional approval why?

Nemesis

He attacked them BEFORE Benghazi.

deertracker

"HE" didn't attack anyone without cause or unilaterally!

Contango

Re: "'HE' didn't attack anyone without cause or unilaterally!"

And military action in Libya was in our national security interest how?

Did he get congressional approval putz?

rottnrog

And bush attacked Iraq without cause and really hurt this country !!!!

Contango

Re: "And bush attacked Iraq without cause"

Did he get UN and congressional approval? Did we have allies?

Did you read the Duelfer Report?

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/...

The Big Dog's back

On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the Libyan civil war,[18] and military operations began, with US and British naval forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles,[19] the French Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force[20] undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by Coalition forces.[21] Air strikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles by French jets were since confirmed.[22][23] The official names for the interventions by the coalition members are Opération Harmattan by France; Operation Ellamy by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile for the Canadian participation and Operation Odyssey Dawn for the United States.[24]
From the beginning of the intervention, the initial coalition of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, UK and US.

Contango

Re: "military intervention in Libya"

So you supported U.S. military action in Libya putz?

JudgeMeNot

rottnrog, your a fool.

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

Contango

Re: "All this so called tough talk is media hype."

Yea, I saw and heard the Incompetent-in-Chief's "tough talk" & "media hype" today. Did you Suzie Q?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

deertracker

Media hype!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Contango

Re: "Media hype!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Yea, that's why he was out in the Rose Garden b*tchin' about it today.

LMAO!!

Also: Helps to take attention off the continuing decaying economy.

Have another glass of Kool-Aid Suzie Q.

deertracker

You want him to attack so you can whine about that! What a complete drunken idiot you are.

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