Obama To Seek Congressional Approval For Action Against Syria | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Obama To Seek Congressional Approval For Action Against Syria

Play associated audio
At the White House Saturday, President Obama said he would seek congressional approval before taking action in Syria.
Charles Dharapak/AP
At the White House Saturday, President Obama said he would seek congressional approval before taking action in Syria.

(Post updated at 10 p.m. ET)

President Obama said Saturday he had decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons, but that he will seek a congressional authorization for the action that could come "tomorrow, or next week or one month from now."

Speaking from the Rose Garden, the president said he believed that he had the authority to act without Congress, but said, "I know the country will be stronger if we take this course."

"After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian targets," Obama said.

The chemical weapon attack in Syria on Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus — including hundreds of children, by White House estimates — was "an assault on human dignity," Obama said. The White House says it has proof the attack was directed from the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which is engaged in a civil war that began in 2011.

The president said he agrees that voices in Congress should be heard. "So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session." Congress is currently on recess for Labor Day.

Later, Obama sent Congress a draft resolution calling for authorization to use force.

"We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual," he said. "And this morning, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell agreed that this is the right thing to do for our democracy."

Obama said the U.S. had to show that it keeps its commitments. "We do what we say. And we lead with the belief that right makes might — not the other way around."

He challenged lawmakers to consider "what message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?"

"And finally, I know well that we are weary of war," Obama said. "And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military."

"That's why we are not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else's war," he said.

Senior administration officials told The Associated Press that the president had planned to take military action without congressional authorization, but told aides Friday night that he changed his mind.

The officials, who asked not to be named, described Obama overriding his top national security advisers, who had urged him to act on his own.

The president's address comes after United Nations inspectors departed Syria with blood, urine and soil samples that will be analyzed in laboratories in Europe to confirm the presence of a suspected nerve agent.

Also on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. claims that the Syrian regime of Assad used chemical weapons "utter nonsense."

Putin said the claims amounted to a provocation to use force against Damascus.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Mexican TV Icon Roberto Gómez Bolaños Dies At 85

The actor, writer and director was a staple of Mexican television comedies and children's programs for decades.
NPR

From Humble Salt To Fancy Freezing: How To Up Your Cocktail Game

You don't need to have liquid nitrogen at your next cocktail party — but it's certainly a sure-fire way to impress your guests. Expert mixologist Dave Arnold walks you through it.
NPR

Week In Politics: Hagel's Resignation, Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution and David Brooks of the New York Times about the grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson and the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
NPR

Millennial Doctors May Be More Tech-Savvy, But Is That Better?

Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennials are the next generation of doctors and they're not afraid to say "chillax" in a consultation or check Twitter to find medical research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.