Friday, August 30, 2013
Syria:What the President Must Do
A new report coming out of Syria says that the Bashar al-Assad regime dropped an incendiary bomb such as napalm on a school playground,inflicting more horrible injuries on its own people.The focus of the international community,however,remains on its alleged chemical weapons attack of August 21,which killed up to a thousand Syrians.A team of UN inspectors remains in Syria tonight,collecting blood samples from the victims and interviewing them.They are planning to leave on Saturday and deliver their report next week.*At the same time,the US government will be releasing its own report based on the intelligence it has been gathering about the attack-probably on Friday.Reportedly this includes intercepts of conversations about the chemical weapons attack.We don't have the crib notes of Assad to his commanders,said Congressman Mike Rogers,R-Michagan,Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,but when you put it all together,it is very clear that Assad was responsible.We know how the command and control works in these units.It was clear there was some degree of command and control being exercised.Looking at all the levels and the different pieces,the answer is definitely yes.*Under the War Powers Act,I don't believe there has to be a vote on military action,but you have to have these discussions with Congress.You have to bring the members in.I think the administration is obligated to do that,Congressman Rogers indicated.The president does not have to get Congress' approval for miltary action,added Senator John McCain,R-Arizona,an elder statesman on national security issues,but he is required to consult with Congress,and it would be in his best interest to conslut with Congress,rather than act in a unilateral fashion,the senator advised.*In that spirit,the Obama administration held a 90 minute conference call with members of Congress Thursday evening.Partcipating were Secretary of State John Kerry;Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel;National Security Advisor Susan Rice;and Director of National Intelligence James R.Clapper.According to a member of Congress on the call,the admisitration said it has no doubt the Syrian government was behind the attack,but no decision has been made on military action,and there is no timetable.They have a broad range of options.Both action and inaction on Syria carry risk and consequence,Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reportedly said on the conference call.