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tv   News  Al Jazeera  September 3, 2013 2:00pm-3:01pm EDT

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>> hello, and welcome to al jazeera, i'm tony harris. here are your headlines. >> military plans developed by our joint chiefs, and i believe is appropriate, proportional. it is limited. it does not involve boots on the ground. >> white house meetings to win over top leaders. president obama's proposed strike on syria. >> this is something that the united states as a country needs to do. >> the speaker of the house says he will back president obama. now the secretary of state is said to make the president's case on capitol hill.
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>> welcome, everybody, president obama is trying to rally support for his plan for military strikes in a moment. chuck hagel and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff will testify before the senate foreign relations committee. it is the first formal step in a debate that could come to congress as early as next week. earlier this morning the president held meetings with top leaders including john boehner. >> the key point that i want to emphasize to the american people, the military plan developed by our joint chiefs and that i believe is appropriate is proportional, it is limited, it does not involve
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boots on the ground. this is not iraq, this is not afghanistan. this is limited proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the assad regime, but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms that there are consequences. it gives us the ability to degrade assad's ape abilities when it comes to chemical weapons, and it also fits into a broader strategy that we hav wen insure over time the economic, diplomat i can so we ultimately have a transition to bring peace and stability to not only syria but the region. i want to emphasize what we visualize is limited, proportional and degrade assad's capabilities, and at the same
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time we have a stronger strategy to allow syria to free itself from the kinds of terrible civil wars and activities that we've been seeing on the ground. >> paul is in washington for us with more on the upcoming senate hearing, paul, can you give us a preview of what senators are likely to hear today? >> well, tony, what you heard from the president talking about the scope of any military action as well as emphasizing the goals of the end game in the region, that's exactly what we're hearing from key members of the senate foreign committee. robert menendez, the chair of the committee, expects to hear the full case of force and expects the panel will back the president's plan. the president bob corker from tennessee said while he's
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disappointed at the progress the administration has made trying to support the opposition, he's confident, he says he's confident that the administration and congress will be able to work quickly to come to an agreement on language of any authorization. hopeful signs from the president on this economy. >> we'll be following this throughout the day for us. paul, good to talk to you. randall pinkston joins us from washington. randall, what have we heard so far from house leaders? >> well, so far we've been hearing very positive statements, very positive reaction to president obama's call for reaction to syria for assad's use of chemical weapons. 16 congressional leaders attended the meeting led by president obama. let's in attention, vice president biden, john kerr i and other national security staff.
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it was thought that he would be hard for him to get support from his long-time critics, including john baner, but john boehner came out in support of the president. >> nato is not likely to take action. the united states for our entire history has stood up for democracy and freedom for people around the world. the use of these weapons has to be responded to, and only the united states has the capability and the capacity to stop assad, and to warn others around the world that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated. this is something that the united states as a country needs to do. i'm going to support the president's call for action. i believe that my colleagues
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should support this call for action. >> reporter: now while john boehner believes his colleagues should support the president's call for action, later his press secretary released a statement saying mr. boehner intended to support the president himself, but that he would leave it to other members of the house, republican members especially to take a vote of conscience. that suggests that boehner will not push support for the president. nonetheless it is very significant that speaker of the house that john boehner supports the president as well as another leading republican eric cantor. he released a statement, did he not appear on cam a but he released a statement after the meeting with the president this morning in the west wing of the house saying america has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as syria. and to prevent further
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instability in a region of vital interest to the united states. so there you have leading republicans from the house of representatives as well as yesterday leading senators, republican senators mccain and graham, indicating support for president obama as he takes another step towards calling for a strike on syria. the next legal step is that the white house would submit a resolution to court for military action. >> and randall, i understand that the president's resolution is being reworked by members of the senate foreign relations committee, and we will probably hear a bit more about specific language in that new resolution debate. good to talk to you, randall pinkston with us. and with me now, professor at hyrum college, a political analyst and hazard worked for
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both republicans and democrats as campaign manager, good to see you jason, and david pakman. he hosts his own david pakman show. jason, let me begin with you, more likely than not the president with this committee will get the votes he's looking for. >> yes, he's going to get the votes he's looking for. we've already seen the changes. john mccain on day one said, i don't think this is a good idea, and he has switched already after one meeting with obama. the president knew the temperature in the house and he's going to get this through. >> why do you think that is, david? >> ultimately it will come down to thinking a little bit further ahead than right now. right now it's really unclear what would the end result be? we've got so many fractured rebel groups and nobody could predict how it would all shake out. i think john mccain and others who have longer potential
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political futures are thinking how is this going to affect me if i run for re-election? how will this effect me? do i want to be seen as that guy in two and four, six years? do you think we'll get a debate on the long-term strategy beyond today with the limits targeted strikes? >> i certainly hope so. i'm going to be looking for how much discussion of the exit strategy will be, and also those who might call for details of the exit strategy. were they calling for one when we were debating iraq before or were they not as concerned because maybe of who was in the white house at the time. >> isn't target and limited its own exit strategy? >> maybe, but with iraq we heard that held be there for a short period of time. just because that's being said in the first 72 hours of discussion doesn't mean that's what it will be. >> what are you looking forward to hearing today?
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>> i'm looking at a redo of kosovo. if you look at what john mccain was saying about bill clinton in 1999, it was similar saying i think the president should take full responsibility. >> with no effort to get on board with kosovo. >> exactly. there may be several different votes. i think this may turn out to be more than one simple vote of barack obama doing what he wants to do. that's what i'm looking for today. >> do you think we'll get tough, difficult, tough questioning on who the opposition is in syria? >> we should. this is targeted and limited. >> and assad is out. >> then who does take over? we saw this in egypt where the day-to-day six months after was not definitively better for everyone who was just going
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about their day-to-day lives, and that's what is at risk here. depending on the outcome, let's assume that we know the outcome of these limited targeted strikes. then what happens, and can we say that this will be better for the average person? i don't think we can say that. >> how much of a call will there be, jason, for whatever beyond the limited target for actual regime change, something bigger and broader. >> ever since 2011, the u.s. has wanted regime change. you saw members of congressish and they saw what happened to david cameron. and what occurred to them right now we don't want to look weak. we might disagree with barack obama but we can't hamstring him in front of the rest of the world. that's above and beyond-- >> what does that mean, to look weak? the idea that you were the lone
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superpower in the world today, if there is a no vote, you are still the lone superpower in the world. >> that's not how republicans think. >> what does that mean? >> we want to stay volatile and viril, and for any reason that the united states cannot strike like thunder makes the united states look weak. that's how the republicans think. >> are we going to get discussion on the opposition? >> we're going to get oppositi n about the opposition. rand paul will be one of the people that will talk about this. he'll want all the details out there so they can be covered in case something goes wrong. >> what are the key issues. >> no question about rand paul. i'm questioning how the republicans are going to play this. they need to figure out a way, number one, to be tough, and number two, they need to
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continue this strategy of this kind of frame that democrats don't take action when it comes to the military. they're going to want to play that out. but not over play their hand such as i mentioned earlier that they could be called for double standard or hypocritical based on where they were in previous debates in mobilizing it's military. i'm interested from all republicans and it will be interesting to see strongly critical democrats and how they'll handle it. >> at the end of the day, i don't want to put words in your mouth, but do you believe that this committee will ultimately vote yes for the president given the final language of whatever the resolution turns out to be? >> absolutely. >> why are you so confident? >> because they are not going to be seen as the ones who stopped this from going forward. it will go to a broader vote and let more people have their voices heard. >> jason, that's your view as well? >> pretty much. many senators, they're thinking long term.
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that's their idea when they're thinking of these debates. >> i hope we get a view of the long-term strategy for syria, post assad syria. let's hope. it would be lovely to hear that it. stay close, more questions for you as the debates continue today. one-tenth of syria population, 2 million people have become refugees. a new report said that 1 million refugees fled this past month calling it a disgraceful show against humanity. >> 1 million syrians now live in this country. that's a high number for lebanon, one in every five people are syrian. as you can see behind me, syri syrians live among the local population. the lebanese are complaining that the syrians are taking
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their jobs. they're complaining that the apartment rents have skyrocketed. some people really exploiting the situation. so there is tension, and there is also the security aspect of this crisis. lebanon hasn't been able to stay out of the syrian conflict. we've seen security incidents, bombings, kidnappings, and they do blame the syrians, their presence for the instability. the syrians in lebanon are either supporters of the government or supporters of the opposition. lebanon is worried if the west does decide to strike against the syrian regime we're going to see a new wave of refugee, and this country is unable to cope especially without the help of international community. >> when i arrived here two weeks ago this camp was a third full. now it stretches as far as the eye can see with tents. there are 15,000 refugees in this camp alone, and some 52,000
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have arrived since the border crossing was opened nearly two weeks ago. now with all the aid agencies and the kurdistan government has told us they don't have the resources to cope with another influx of refugees in the event of a military strike. the u.n. are only giving them 10% of what they need to supply all of the refugees so there is an it wassive funding crisis here. and if there is a military strike more refugees will cross the border leading to more pressures here in northern iraq. >> there are more 32,000 syrian refugees. when the camp was built two weeks ago it was meant to house 15,000 people. it's indicative of how the situation has gotten out of control. there was a time when turkey would say it would only take up to 100,000 syrian refugees, now
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it's grappling with a half million. the government said it has spent up to $2 billion u.s. dollars, and its time for other members of the international community to step up. >> we'll bring you the hearing from the senate foreign relations committee when it starts in approximately 13 minutes or the bottom of the hour. we'll come back with more news here on al jazeera. takeaway is our company emerges from a time of war that i was elected in part to end. buzz we really want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an
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>> welcome back to al jazeera, i'm tony harris. we're literally minutes away from the start of the hearing on possible military action against syria taking place before the senate foreign relations committee. let's go to david jackson who is covering the story for us in beirut, lebanon. how are these events being viewed over seas? david jackson, can you hear me? all right, we lost david. we'll--we've been trying to get him for the last 15 minutes or so. we've been trying to get the view of the region with david jackson. israel said it held a joint missile test with the u.s. this morning. military sources say they landed a missile over the mediterranean sea in a test of an anti-missile system. we have more from jerusalem.
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>> the significance alarmed that was evidenced on tuesday morning has calmed down somewhat, but what we do know is that the israelis filed a new type of israeli known as ankor, and it's used to test the anti-missile capability in a system called arrow 2. now obviously it caused alarm because although the americans were informed in advance that this test was taking place it seems that the russians were not informed, and so the tracking of this russia missiles caused consternation. the strike is a nonchalant attitude towards this. i spoke with one official from the israeli government who said we're just practicing, making sure that everything worked, no
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big deal. russian analysts are describing the test as irresponsible at no doubt a very sensitive period as we await to hear whether president obama will be permitted in launching a military strike against syria. this type of military strike while it may be nonchalant from the israeli point of view is intended to accepted a message to israel's neighbors that israel is equipmented to protect itself. >> a car bomb killed 18 people and injured dozens more, explosions placed across the capital of baghdad. nine expose explosions went offn predominantly shia neighbors, and then more explosions went off in mixed neighborhoods as
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well. thsummer is over and kids across america are heading back to school in troubled detroit the school district is down sizing due to budget shortfalls and many schools have put closed and put up for sale. a report on the future of the defunk school buildings. >> reporter: joel landy loves movies, and here he runs the show. the movie theater, the entire building all of it is his, and it was once a detroit public high school. >> many people saw schools as an one purpose of the school, and tear it down. when i walk in i see great space that can be used for almost any purpose. >> he's invested hundreds of thousands of dollars buying up several shuttered detroit
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schools. one is now a charter school. another a music school, and residential. >> the rewards and the influence it has on other people. >> reporter: joel isn't alone. over the past four years all told the city has sold 46 school buildings. >> tammy dean runs the detroit public school district's real estate office. >> everyone is looking to see what is going to happen with the city, what is going to happen with the school district and there is lots of property. >> reporter: sales have generated over $18 million, money that goes back into the budget of the city's cash-strapped school district, in a city whose population is half the size it was 50 years ago, the sales have largely been uncontroversial. most of the buyers are local but some are out of state competing for the property. >> lots of offers and people fighting over property, yes.
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>> reporter: 81 schools are on the market, and more schools are expected to close. but some see that just as an opportunity. >> it's a publicity job to convince people in this city that they have great shoulders, and built structure has great value and to learn how to reuse it. that's one of my important missions i work on every day. >> reporter: there is growing hope that an historic part of detroit's past will soon be part of its future. al jazeera, detroit. >> once again, let's take you to the senate room in washington, d.c. the room quickly filling up. we understand from the start of this hearing before the senate foreign relations committee, secretary of state john kerry will be making the administration's case for a limited military strike on syria in response to the alleged
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chemical weapons attack on august 21st launched allegedly by the syrian government. we'll take a break and we'll be back with more of our coverage here on al jazeera. nothing. here is my question for every member of congress and every member of the global community: what message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price? >> the president had seemed to be leaning toward military action for several days. >> that's not a surprise. the question, though, was whether he would seek authorization from congress? it didn't seem that he would, they presented the president with an autographed jersey, and obama shared a few praise. >> coach shula retired with more wins than any coach in history. each time that record has been
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challenged, team after team has fallin short. >> michael eaves joins us to talk more about that. the president was having a lot
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>> welcome back to al jazeera, tony harris. and let's see the heart senate building again and the hearing with the hearing will begin in just a minute. we'll start to see the senators, if they're not already in the room entering the room. and a lot of photographers in the room right now. we'll bring in randall pinkston. he's in washington, and randall, if you would, tell us more about the meeting between the president and house leaders including the speaker, john boehner. >> well, we have to say that this was a very, very surprised meeting in terms of its outcome because going in there has been all of the predictions about resistence on the part of most republicans, including some of the leadership to president obama's plan. there has been criticism of his delay. there has been criticism about
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his appear ant refusal to fight assad, and there was an american finding that chemical weapons had, indeed, been employed by assad. coming out of that meeting you had house speaker john boehner and his lieutenant eric cantor, both with strong support of the president to take action. boehner felt that his logans, democrats and colleagues should support the president. and he said he wouldn't work hard to switch votes but if you take the apparent support of democrats as being something that the president can count on, and some support of the republicans, then what you have is a president who will take
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this action with bipartisan support from the house of representatives and the senate. president obama undoubtedly is in a solid position right now. >> randall, as you take a look in the hearing room, we see john mccain right there. and senator mccain as for the last two and a half years of this conflict pushed strenuously, visited the region and talked to allies in the region, and i'm thinking about saudi arabia and qatar, and has come back and asked over and over again for the administration to take a stronger line on president bashar al-assad, and to support, and to arm the opposition, and to set up a--even going so far as to say military strikes should be use,
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correct? >> yes, that has been senator mccain's position, but you also know, i'm sure, tony, there were countveiling arguments that the opposition is not just one opposition. there are a number of anti-assad forces that are al-qaida, and there was concern always of american weapons going to the rivals of assad would not necessarily be in america's best interest. they had to tread a very careful line in terms of who to help. that was one concern. the other concern is what the military calls unintended consequences. even now as we look at the likelihood of an american military strike on syria, the question is then what? mccain wants to make sure that it's not just an one-off deal, but that it would degrade assa assad's military ability to strike, and upgrade the ability of his opponents to resist him.
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if it works the way mccain wants it to work, the way president obama seems inclined to go at this point, all would be well. but who knows. >> all right, randall, appreciate it. we want to get some thoughts from the region, david jackson is back with us. he's in beirut, lebanon. david, how closely are the neighbors in the region following what's going on and what will happen in just minutes here in the senate? >> well, everybody following the developments pretty closely, tony. the indications are that we get out of syria. there is a movement of chemical weapons supplies themselves these are in retention areas or near residential areas. and there has been military movement of those. they hold according to intelligence estimates 2 million pounds of chemical weapons and supplies, and they're scattered around the
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country. that is supposed to be expected with this kind of delay in place, and for them to have the time necessary to do that. the indications out of syria any way that are coming to us is that that's going on. bear in mind there is still fighting going on, and the civil war continues to rage through all of that. it isn't easy, necessarily, to get things moved because there is a rebel force still fighting against them. but that's what the syrians are attempting to do at this point. >> how worried are the neighbors? you're in lebanon. there has already been spill-over from the syrian conflict in lebanon. how worried is a country like lebanon? is that country like jordan about what could be the unintended consequences? >> what has happened is you end up with a nation like lebanon who describes themselves as
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frozen, they have two forces, the hezbollah and shiites who are sitting still and waiting. and we have an influx of reachings ureaching up to 700,0, and you've seen the impact they've had on lebanon. you have a number of things going on here. the principle thing to say, the way that it feels and the way the lebanese have reacted is that they're really stuck. they can't--neither side can claim anything positive until they know what this strike result is, and everyone is waiting to see what the fall out is, and the impact and fall out turns out to be. >> david jackson there in the region in beirut, lebanon. as we look around the senate hearing roo you see senator dick
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durban, and john mccain moments ago. i haven't spotted the chair of the senate foreign relations committee bob menendez just yet. let's me take it back to david pakman, as you look around the room, you see john mccain on the screen. what is his role in driving this process. seemingly more like-minded senator mccain with the president in a long time. >> right, right,down mccain is still bitter he is not in the job but he's in favor of being more aggressive in many places of the middle east. and he's happy that barack obama has said that strikes are necessary. he just wants him to be more aggressive. that's what he's going to be
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fighting for in the hearing committee. >> you drew the parallels to kosovo, and you were correct. >> bill clinton was making a humanitarian argument. he said, look, people are dialing. dying. they never got approval from the house and senate at the same time but he was able to move forward with troops on the ground and limited strikes, and i think that's what obama is going to be shooting for. >> we saw secretary of state john kerry, i believe at one point he was the chair of this committee. when he was senator from massachusetts. what are you going to be focusing in--before you go, we've got protesters. at least one demonstrator protester in the hall. it "z" anyone hear the statement that was made?
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i didn't see the sign, and i didn't hear what was screamed, yelled out. >> i think this is going to be interesting to compare and contrast the context around former center like you said, secretary of state john kerry's role here, not that there is necessarily a pail letter to the specific in iraq, although we could draw parallels if he wanted to, but because of the cloud that has descended over the united states making the case for military action. that's the interesting thing. will he have extra to push back on? he has to make a strong case just to counter act the skepticism. >> jason, what do you think we'll here--we'll wait until the
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photographers are getting their shots, just give me a heads up when the photographers are seated, and we get to the statement from bob menendez. what are your thoughts on the job that the secretary has to do that chuck hagel, secretary of defense, has to do, as they take their seats. >> they have to convince this committee that this is a necessary action. anything other than a vote in barack obama's favor will weaken them externally and internally. >> let's take you to the senate foreign relations committee. >> actions of approval or disapproval from the audience. we welcome you to be here on this important occasion, but we welcome you to be observers of this important occasion. and the chair will not tolerate
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actions that are in violation of the committee rules. let me welcome secretary kerry back to the committee that he chaired. secretary hagel to the committee that he served on, and chair pan joint chiefs of staff dempsey. we have convened to make one of the most difficult decisions we've been asked to make, the authorization of use of u.s. military power. this in response to the chemical attack of august 21st that took the lives of 1400 years, including 426 children. the images of that day are sickening, the in my view the word cannot take in the horror of this action. i do not take authorization of
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military force lightly or make such decision easily. i voted against the war in iraq, and strongly supported the withdrawal of u.s. support. today i support the use of military force in the face of this inhumanity. yes there are risks to action, but the consequences of inaction are greater and graver still. further, regional instability, loss of american credibility around the world, and in both in iran and north korea, and the disintegration of international law. this decision will be the most difficult that will be asked of us to make, but it is our role to make it. to put aside political differences and personal ideologies, to forget
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partisanship and pre-conceptions. to forget the polls, the politics and personal consequence. it is important to profile courage in what one knows to do what is right. understanding that geopolitical ramifications and fully aware of the consequences, at the end of the day each of us will decide whether to vote for or against a resolution for military action based on our assessments of the facts and our conscience. it's a policy that must be based on what we believe to be the national security interests of the united states. to be clear the authorization we will ultimately seek will be for focused action with a clear understanding that american troops will not be on the ground in combat, and the language before us is but a starting
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point. the president has decided to ask congress for our support. now the eyes of the world are upon us. the decision we make, the resolution we present total senate and the votes we take will reverberate around the world. our friends and allies will await our decision as does the despot of terrorists in tehran anand terrorist groups wherever they may be. we will send the signal to the world that such weapons in violation of international law cannot be used with impunity. the question is will we send a message that the united states will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world by anyone for any reason. will we in the name of all that is a human and decent authorize the use of american military power against the inexcusable, i aindiscriminate use of chemical
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weapons. what message will we send to the world when such crime goes unpunished? will they use them more widely and kill more children? will they use them against our allies, our troops, our embass embassies? or will they sell them to terrorists who will use them against us at home. are we willing to watch the slaughter just because those patrons of the slaughter allowed it to happen so their beneficiary could stay in power? are we so tired of war that we're willing to silence our conscience that know to our national interests. we'll hear the arguments and risen to the facts released last friday that secretary kerry has
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so passionately carried to the nation. we know with high confidence within the intelligence community that the syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack on august 21st. we know the assad regime has stock piled different gasses and has the capability of delivering them. we know bashar al-assad makes decisions when it comes to the regime's stock pile of chemical agents and those in the prom are carefully vetted to determine loyalty to the regime and security of the program. we have evidence that sarin gas was used in some of those occasions and it was not the opposition groups that used them. we know subordinate to the regimes ministry of defense from
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sunday, august 18th, until early in the morning august 21st near an area of the regime used mixeded chemical weapons including sarin. human intelligence have shown regime activity in the preparation of chemicals prior to the attack including the distribution and use of gas masks. we have multiple streams of intelligence that show the regime launched a rocket talk, and satellite cooperation of the steaks launched from the regime controlled areas and strict the area where the attack reported liqueured clearly tying the pieces together. that's what we know in terms of who deployed these weapons. more evidence is available, and we will be looking at all of the classified information in a closed session of the committee tomorrow, that more clearly establishes the ute of chemical weapons by the regime, the
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military response available to us and the results that we expect from those first responders. there is a preponderance of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that assad's forces targeted civilian with weapons. having said that, at the end of the day, the attack on syrians has broader implications for the region and the world. if chemical weapons can be used in violation of geneva protocol signedded by the united states in 1925, and signed by syria itself in 1968, it can be used without fear of r reprisal by ay anyone. we are at a crossroads moment. a precedent will be set either for the unfeathered forrou for e
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of such weapons we will either send a message to syria lebanon, hezbollah, that the world will not stand by when the use of chemical weapons are used. our silence would be a message to the ayatollah that the americans are not serious about stopping their march to acquir acquiring nuclear weapons. our silence would have embedde embeddenneemembolden kim jong-u.
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clearly at the end of the day our national security is at stake. i would like to thank our distinguished witnesses who will present the facts as they know them, and at the end of the day we will each set a sign across the world that we will no not sd by. the president is asking for limited force. it is not intention or ours to involve ourselves fully in syria's civil war. what is before us is a request, and i quote, to prevent or deter the use of proliferation of chemical or biological weapons within two or from syria, and to protect the united states in its allies and partners against a threat posed by such weapons. this is not a declaration of war but our declaration of the
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values of the world. we will use military on anyone who would turn their backs on civilians anywhere in the world. we'll hear the facts, we'll listen to the arguments and make our decision on behalf of the american people. i trust we can achieve that in a bipartisan way. i've been working with senator corker as we resume, and i would like to acknowledge the presence of teresa hines in this momentous occasion. i'm glad to see you so well, and that you're here with us. with that, senator corker. >> mr. chairman, i thank you for your comments, and the time we spent together recently. i want to thank our witnesses being here not only in service to our country in their current
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capacity, but for their service for many, many years. i than thank you for being here. today you're beginning the formeformal request for many ofs the most important question that will be made here at the dais. i've noticed a distinct sense of humility as we've gone about the various questions, conference calls and meetings we've had previously this week. i know every help here knows whether they decide to support an authorization the use of military force or not they're making a decision about our country's national interest. i know that everybody is going to be taking that decision very, very seriously.
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one of the issues, should we support authorization of the use of military support. i'm inclined to do so and i'm working closely with senator menendez or something that will be a starting point for discussion an in this committee meeting and we'll all have an imprint of what it is that we decide to vote on. one of the problems that the members have, and i think it's important to answer, while we make policy, and the implementation of this is very important, i think there have been mixed signals about what that implementation actually going to mean, and the affect that it's going to have on the country that we're involved in. i want to say that i was just in the region as i know many people have been, and i am still totally dismayed at the lack of
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support we are given to the vetted opposition. we publicly stated what that support is going to be even though it's being carried out in a covert kay. but to some degree it's humiliating to be in a refugee camp when our policy has been that we'll train, equip, and give humanitarian aid to the vetted opposition. yet, when we sit down wit with others, very little of that has occurred. the conversation will surrender largely chemical warfare. i know the case has to be made, made, and we've had the ability to see that case and see intelligence and see what basis these claims have been made.
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my guess is that most everyone fully believes that chemical weapons were used on civilians to a large degree. we know that that wil it is my t a big part of what we're talking about here today, to make a case as to why syria is important to our natural interest. why syria matters to the region. why is it important for us to carry out the stated strategy and how we're going to continue to carry out that strategy. one of the things that i do not want to see in this authorization, if it's authorized and force takes place, i want to see us continue to carry out the strategy that has been stated, and that is building the capacity of the
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vetted moderate opposition. i would like you to address that. i would like you to also address how this use of military force supports that strategy. how it's going to effect the region in the aftermath. i thank you for being here today. i know a big part of what we're discerning today, and what we're making decisions upon is the very good ability of the united states of america. i know that people in the region are watching. i know that we've been hesitant to move on with many of the activities that we've stated we're going to be carrying out. i hope that each of you will bring clarity to this. i know we're going to talk about chemical warfare, but i hope that you'll give us even more clarity about our opposition strengthening, about how this is going to affect us over all, and i hope we'll all leave here today with a clear understanding of how this strategy is going to
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be carried out. i thank you and i look forward to your testimony. >> secretary kerry? >> thank you very much for having us here today. we look forward for this opportunity to share with you president obama's vision with respect to not just this action but as senator corker has stated appropriately about syria itself and military action in the middle east. we'rwe are--as we convene for t, it's not an exaggeration to say to all of you, my former colleagues, that the world is watching not just to see what we decide, but its watching to see how we make this decision.
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whether in are a a dangerous world we can still make our government speak with one voice. they want to know if america will rise to this moment and make a difference. and the question of whether to authorize our nation to take military action is, as you've said mr. chairman, and you've echoed, mr. ranking member, this is obviously one of the most important decisions, one of the most important responsibilities of this committee or of any senator in the course of a career. the president and the administration appreciate that you have returned quickly to the nation's capitol to address it, and that you are appropriately beginning a process of focusing with great care and great precision, which is the only way to approach the potential use of
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military power. ranking member corker, i know you wanted to discuss why syria matters to our national security and strategic interest beyond compelling humanitarian reasons, and i look forward with secretary hagel and general dempsey to laying that out here this afternoon. but first it is important to explain to the american people why we're here. it's important for people who may not have caught every component of the news over the course of the labor day weekend to join all of us in focusing in on what is at stake here. that's why the president of the united states made the decision that he did contrary to what many people thought he would do in asking the congress to join in this decision. we are stronger as a nation when we do that. so we're here because against
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multiple warnings from the president of the united states, from the congress, from our friends and allies around the world and even from russia and iran, the assad regime and only undeniably the assad regime unleashed an outrageous chemical attack against its own citizens. we're here because a dictator and his family's personal enter enterprise in their lust to hold on to power were willing to infect the area of damascus with a poison that killed innocent mothers, and fathers, and hundreds of innocent children, their lives snuffed out by gas in the early morning of august 21st. now some people here and there amazingly have questioned the evidence of this assault on conscience. i repeat here today that only
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the most willful desire to avoid reality can assert that that did not occur as described, or that the regime did not do it. it did happen. and the assad regime did it. now i remember iraq. secretary hagel remembers iraq, we remember it in a special way because we were here on that vote. we voted. we were especially sensitive chuck and i never again to ask any member of congress to take a vote on faulty intelligence. that's why our intelligence community has scrubbed and rescrubbed the evidence. we have declassified unprecedented amounts of information, and we ask the american people and the rest of
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the world to judge that information. we can tell you beyond any reasonable doubt that our evidence proves the assad regime prepared for this attack, issued instructions to prepare for this attack, warned it's own forces to use gas masks. we have physical evidence of where the rockets came from, and when. not one rocket landed in regime-controlled territory, not one. all of them landed in opposition-controlled or con tested territory. we have a map, physical evidence showing every geographical point of impact, and that is concrete. within minutes of the attack, 90 to be precise, maybe slightly shorter, the social media exploded with horrific images


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