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tv   Your Money  CNN  August 31, 2013 11:00am-11:31am PDT

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we do what we say. and we lead with the belief that right makes might. not the other way around. we all know there are no easy options, but i wasn't elected to avoid hard decisions and neither were the members of the house and the senate. i've told you what i believe, that our security and our values demand that we cannot turn away from the massacre of countless civilians with chemical weapons. and our democracy is stronger when the president and the people's representatives stand together. i'm ready to act in the face of this outrage. today i'm asking congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation. thanks very much. >> will you strike if congress disapproves? >> so there he is, the president of the united states making it clear he has authorized the use of force in syria, but he's not going to go forward with that execute order until -- until --
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congress acts. they're not scheduled to come back from their recess until monday, september 9, then he has the commitment of the democratic and republican leadership in the house and senate. they will take up this resolution that would give the president authority to go ahead and launch a military strike against syria to punish syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people. so clearly, even though the president has made a decision to go ahead, even though the president has made a decision to go ahead and use military force, he has decided to wait to execute that order until congress comes back, and that could be at least ten days or so from now, if not longer, depending on how long it takes congress to consider such a resolution. and there is by no means a guarantee the president will win that vote in the house of representatives, especially -- likely he probably will win in the senate, not 100% guarantee, but there is no guarantee he
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will win in the republican-controlled house of representatives, and if he were to suffer that setback, it would be very similar to what david cameron suffered in the house of parliament this week, in the house of commons when he suffered that loss in members of his own party refusing to go along with him. so there's not going to be any imminent u.s. strike until congress comes back. it doesn't look like they're coming back before september 9, so military action not going to take place this weekend or next week unless congress comes back early. no indication, as i said, they will. but this is a major decision by the president. he is rolling the dice that the house and the senate will support him. if the senate does and the house doesn't, he didn't say what he would do. he just said he would like that authority from congress to strengthen the u.s. resolve. >> reporter: that's right, and i believe one of the reporters there in the rose garden tried to ask that question before he left. he did not answer that question. wolf, this is a president who
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has had very strained relations with republicans in congress, not only in the house of representatives. he has a few tea party-backed republicans in the senate who have been very, very much against his agenda in recent months, most notably ted cruz, rand paul, marco rubio, so it will be interesting to watch what happens in both houses of congress. but you're right, wolf, this means the president, while he has made a decision to go ahead and authorize military force against syria, and we should say that that was always really the case all throughout the week, it seemed from everything he was saying, his administration was saying that was going to be the case, but this is a delay. presumably the congress could be called back. that might be a better question for dana bash, but this does run a bit of a risk for the president in that there could be a future chemical weapons attack inside syria between now whand when the congress returns. that must have been a calculation the president has
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gone through and said it's just something he'll have to deal with. part of the reason, wolf, why he's doing this is his own words would have come back to haunt him had he gone ahead and said yes to military force without congressional authorization. back in 2007 when he was running for president, he told the boston globe, quote, the president does not have power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. those words have been thrown back at him by members of congress in recent days saying, what happened to candidate obama? president obama in the white house is doing something very different. so the president making this decision today is at least making himself consistent in this regard back in 2007, wolf. >> but he's taking a huge chance right now that he could be embarrassed by the house of representatives, maybe even the senate, if they vote against authorization. let's bring in dana bash, our chief congressional correspondent. first of all, dana, is there any
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indication that congress will come back next week, come back early? because they're scheduled to come back monday, september 9. >> reporter: the short answer is yes, it is possible, and that is information that i was just getting from sources on the democratic side of the senate, of course, democrats run the senate, that they are considering bringing back the senate before the scheduled return date, which is september 9. nothing has been decided yet. the house side, which of course is run by republicans, i was just in touch with a member of the republican leadership who said that the plan is still to wait until september 9. now, this is all very, very fast-moving, so all of that can change. but it's entirely possible that both could come back. if the senate comes back, it would be hard to see the house just kind of staying home next week and not returning to follow suit. that's in terms of the schedule. the thing that i would add in terms of the critical question, which is, would this pass, that is why we n-- we now have a bet
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sense of why the administration has become hyper-aggressive in getting information to members of congress. right about now, there should be a conference call starting with senate republicans. a little bit later there will be a conference call with senate democrats, and then tomorrow, on a sunday, labor day weekend, they are going to have a classified briefing on capitol hill for all members of the house, and it looks like, according to a couple senators i've been in touch with, senators will likely have something as well. so it's one thing to be on the phone where it's not a secure line and they're just kind of trying to make their case in the same kind of way that the president just did publicly in the rose garden. it's a whole other thing to call members of congress back to have them in a secure room inside the capitol to look at classified intelligence information in order to make their case. look, this is absolutely necessary. we need the support of the united states congress. so they're banking on the fact they can convince enough members that this can pass and it will
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strike the president's hand and not embarrass him. >> the president not only has a problem with republican ends, especially some of the tea party supporters who are more less inclined to get involved militarily overseas, but he's also got a problem with a whole bunch of democrats as well who don't want to get involved in another military conflict overseas. >> reporter: it's funny you say that, because i was just looking back at what happened in 2011 with libya, which i think is the closest thing we have in similarity. obviously, not exactly the same. but there was a house vote with a republican vote house on libya, and it was just resolution supporting it, and it failed. it failed with nearly 100 democrats not supporting the president. again, it's a different situation, but it does give you an idea of, just like you said, this is not something that falls cleanly on party lines. you have democrats and
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republicans, maybe even more democrats, who are reluctant to use military force as a way of punishing anybody internationally, particularly in a case where some people really have to be convinced, still, that this particular action in syria is really in the u.s. national security interest. >> dana, stand by for a moment. gloria borger is here with us also. gloria, let me play that little clip. this is the president moments ago telling the world he's going to wait before authorizing military action on targets in syria until after congress comes back from its recess and votes on resolutions authorizing the use of force. listen to this. >> i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american people's representatives in congress. for the last several days, we've heard from members of congress who want their voices to be heard. i absolutely agree. so this morning i spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to schedule a
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debate and then a vote as soon as congress comes back into session. >> he's really rolling the dice right now, because he might lose. he might lose that vote. >> and he doesn't seem happy with this development, but i also think, just as he's boxed in by the red line, he's also boxed in by his past. if you look at all the people making the decision, they're former senators. they're all senators who have said you need to get congressional authorization by kerry, hagel, president obama. they're all former senators, they've all been in that chamber making the argument you can't do this without us. so i was surprised initially that he didn't, but then i thought, okay, they believe they have the evidence, there is historical precedent, grenadgre et cetera, for not going to congress. they wanted to do kind of a one and done, we're out. and then suddenly, i think much to their surprise, and particularly after the british vote went down, i think they
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started hearing from more and more members of congress and it was a deluge that i'm not sure that they anticipated. and everybody has different reasons, you know. there is a document circulating that a republican house member has circulated with over 100 signatures on it saying, you need to go to us. we're not ready to go to war. and so i think in a way politically they had no choice, but as you point out, this is a real roll of the dice for him. they've got nine legislative days left before the end of the fiscal year. they've got all of these -- >> you're talking about september 30. >> they've got all these budget issues they have to deal with to keep the government running, not shutting down the government. now they're going to come back and have this kind of discreet debate about this issue. and it's hard to see how this doesn't spill over. i think the american public will be watching. they want to see a grown-up
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debate from their members of congress. but i think the public is so conflicted on this issue, largely because, as the president pointed out today, they're war weary, everybody knows their war weary, that i think this is going to be some excruciating choices for these members of congress. >> and you know, gloria, that between now and september 9, september 10, let's say that week, that week of september 9 is the week they debate in the senate and the house and vote. between now and then, there could be a lot of momentum against military action that could start building up and could really undermine the president's hope that he gets the authorization from congress. >> right. and the president made it very clear in his remarks today that he is ready to sign that order. >> if congress rejects his resolution, will he still use force? >> we don't know. >> can he still use force based on what we just heard? >> he said this is a constitutional democracy. somebody in the rose garden asked him that question, he
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walked away. he did not answer it. but why would you have this vote if you were prepared -- >> to ignore it. >> -- to ignore it? that's the real question here. one thing i also did hear from the president, wolf, and i don't know if you heard it, is that he seemed so dismiss sieive of the united nations. he was like, this is not just about an investigation, which is what the united nations is doing, this is about making a decision about what ought to be done. he knows he's not going to get that vote and he basically seemed to say it's kind of worthless. and i heard that disdain in his voice. >> i was anticipating maybe he would use this opportunity to speak directly to the syrian people. he didn't do that, although we are told that syrian state television did carry the president's remarks live on syrian state television, so people in syria were watching. there you see some of the video from syrian state television. he's speaking there and people
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in damascus and other cities in syria were watching the president of the united states, including this clip. i'll play it. here's where the president said he has already made a decision on the use of force. >> our military has positioned assets in the region. the chairman of the joint chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. moreover, the chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time sensitive. it will be effective tomorrow or next week or one month from now. >> all right. let's go to the pentagon. barbara starr, our pentagon correspondent, listened very carefully. it doesn't look like there will be any u.s. military action, barbara, until congress comes back from its recess. that would be monday, september 9 unless they accelerate it and come back earlier. they could do that in the senate, maybe, not necessarily in the house. so the military, they have some time, another 10, 15 days, maybe a month, as the president said,
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to go ahead and continue planning, rehearsing and practicing. >> yeah, but the problem is, they don't really need to plan, rehearse and practice, do they? even the president says the joint chief said we're ready to go. that's what we've been hearing all week that they're on a hair trigger, the missiles are loaded, the targets are loaded and they're ready to move. i think it will become a very interesting question of military strategy. in all my years of covering the pentagon, i've not seen it play out this way. you look at the target list, it's there in front of everybody. the president said they were ready and nothing happened. what will be the reaction of government and mill taerz itarie region? what will be the reaction in al qaeda? what will be the reaction in the heavily armed militant terrorist groups like the militia now operating inside of syria? this is a very complex military problem with the syrians. you have a lot of players.
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you have thousands of al qaeda-related operatives moving in from iraq, al qaeda affiliates on the rise. if they see the united states military threatening but not doing, what their reaction will be and what they think they might get away with, more attacks, more gas will be something that might only make the situation more complicated. >> barbara starr, stand by. peter bergen, our national security analyst, is joining us right now. you know the critics of the president. they're already saying based on what they heard the president say in the rose garden right now, he has now blinked and the opposition, the syrian regime, hezbollah, the iranians, they understand what's going on and they're probably breathing a little bit easier, at least in the short term. >> i want to go back to a speech the president gave that i'm sure you recall on may 23rd at the national defense university here in washington, in which he basically said, we need to wind
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down the wars we've had over the last decade. he specifically referred to the authorization for the use of military force which congress voted shortly after 9/11, which is the authorization that allows the united states to go to war in afghanistan and also in pakistan, to some degree yemen directed al qaeda. he said, i will not basically renew an authorization for the use of military force. i won't sign that into law. and he was really calling for the end of this sort of war that we've been in. so if you look at what he just said, which i think was, by the way, one of the better speeches i've heard him deliver, that this is really in the context of somebody who wants to get us out of a permanent state of war, who understands that it's not just about his presidency but any future presidency, that if you have this kind of conflict that you really should go to congress and get authorization. he is, after all, a constitutional law professor. the constitution at the end of the day is about getting congress to authorize acts of
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war. and unfortunately, the united states has sort of fallen out of the habit of really getting those authorizations in too many cases over the last several decades, and i think that's the context in which he made this speech today. >> hold on for a moment, peter. i want to continue this conversation. but the former house speaker, newt gingrich, the host of the new cnn crossfire is on the phone right now. i know you've been a reluctant warrior in this particular regard. you didn't necessarily want the u.s. to launch military strikes, mr. speaker, against targets in syria. what did you think of the president's speech? >> well, first of all, i'm glad that he's going to go to the congress for approval. i think that slows the process down. it gives us time to think and to have a national debate. but i think there is one key question that every american and every member of congress has, and that is, what is the outcome? yes, we can go in and fire missiles, b-2's overhead
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dropping bombs. and then what? if this is just an exercise in p petulant anger, it's not going to impress the world, it's not going to impress dictators. we are in a mess in the region. the enemies of assad, frank many, are probably more anti-american than the assad dictator sh dictatorship, so there are no good sides here. i would just like the president or secretary kerry or somebody explain what is it they hope to accomplish over time? because if we bomb him even for two or three days and he survives, how does that teach the next dictator not to use these weapons? and i'm against us trying to go in with enough force to defeat him and defeat the current insurgency which is what you have to do, because both sides are bad from our perspective. but i think the congress should say over and over again to the
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president, don't tell us about one single attack. what is our strategy? what are we going to try to accomplish? why is this worth doing? >> do you think he's got the votes in the house of representatives to pass this kind of resolution? >> he probably does, but i think sin , as prime minister cameron found he lost the vote, i think the country is opposed to doing this. i was just talking to some friends at a local family restaurant, just casual people, all of whom are saying, why are we trying to do this? explain what the outcome is that makes sense to him. one of them just came back from israel where the israelis are actually distributing gas masks to civilians, because remember, we have no idea what iran and what syria will do in response to an attack like this. we don't control the game. we're only one part of a very complicated game. >> what does this say, newt
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gingrich, about presidential authority to use force? because even though he says this is not necessarily binding on him, he's saying he wants congressional authorization in the house and the senate, and a lot of us remember, you well remember, it was ronald reagan. he did not have congressional authorization to use force in grenada back in the '80s, the former george h.w. bush did not have congressional authorization to use force when he launched troops into panama in 1989. president clinton did not have congressional authorization to use force in kosovo, as you well remember. what does this say about presidential precedent, presidential authority to use force by what the president announced just moments ago? >> well, i don't think this affects the long-term authority of the president. thomas jefferson sent the u.s. marines all the way to the shores of tripoli as the marine corps without congressional
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authority. as long as congress doesn't cut off the money, presidents can get pretty aggressive in what they do as commander in chief. but i think this tells you the president is getting tremendous pressure, particularly from his left. i don't think he cares about the republicans who are opposed, but i think the fact that people on the left are starting to say, you know, you better slow down and think this through. and particularly just having watched cameron lose the vote in the british parliament, i think they thought they had better go back and try to protect their political base. but i see it as a political, not a legal issue. >> hold on for a moment. i want to bring in nick peyton walsh at the united stations. assuming, nick, the vote in the house and senate doesn't take place until monday, september 9, 10 days or so from now, there will be more information that these u.n. weapons inspectors that have emerged from syria that they will make public between now and then stuff that the house of representatives and the senate will be able to
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consider as they consider their own vote. unfortunately, i don't think i'm hearing nick. we're going to fix that audio. let's bring gloria borger to talk about that. there is going to be information we're going to be learning between now and the week of september 9 that presumably could impact how members of the house and senate vote. >> well, i think now it's incumbent upon the administration, who has clearly been trying to make its case -- i mean, john kerry was out there very forcefully making the administration's case. i think you're probably going to see more and more people trying to educate the american public. because now this is a vote the white house wants to win. it's very clear this president is ready to strike. and it's also a vote, wolf, that i think they have to win. they don't want to be humiliated like david cameron, and by the way, david cameron has just tweeted, i understand and support barack obama's position on syria.
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so he understands the president's decision to take this to a vote. i presume he would like it to turn out differently for the president than it did for him. but i think this is a campaign now that the administration has to wage to -- with the american public, to educate the american public, and also members of congress who have called for this vote. you know, there is also an issue here of in a time like this, can this country set politics aside, and can members of congress stand up and vote for what they believe. they may disagree with the president very strongly for all kinds of reasons. because they don't believe in a surgical attack, they want to do more. i think there are all kinds of reasons, but i think this is a moment for this country to see if we can actually have a
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debate, pushing everything else aside and have a debate on a very, very important matter, which the president has said, i'm ready to strike syria because this is against international norms. >> we'll see how the house and senate vote on this, and it's by no means a done deal. but they'll have a lot of time now between now and the week of september 9 to consider the pros and cons. i think we've reestablished our connection with nick payton walsh at the united stations. how much more knowledgeable about this chemical weapons attack will we be between now and september 9 when congress is scheduled to come back into session, nick? >> reporter: quite likely considerably more knowledgeable. we don't know the timeline. in fact, the u.n. spokesman was very keen to not provide one, but he did repeat how much the u.n. security general wanted to expedite the process here. that process is some of them have landed in the hague.
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we understand those inspectors are gathering those together. tomorrow testing may begin. also tomorrow, sunday, the man who is heading that part of the mission to the netherlands will brief him on how that process is going. one other expert we've been talking to just to get a feel for how long this could take suggested we're probably looking at about a week at this point. that would take us to about the 6th, 7th of september. so it is entirely possible in the course of international public opinion, we might have some information from the u.n. inspectors to confirm in their independent view that chemical weapons were actually used in syria. i should point out that is the limit of their mandate. they're not about assigning responsibility, but that could certainly help if barack obama is convincable to convince the the world that an attack is possible. >> we're getting a reaction to what the president of the united
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states just said, and he just said he will seek congressional authorization before ordering u.s. military action against targets in syria. the senate republican leader, mitch mcconnell, issued this statement. let me put it up on the screen. today the president advised me that he will seek an authorization for the use of force from the congress prior to initiating any combat operations against syria in response to the use of chemical weapons. the president's role as commander in chief is always strengthened when he enjoys the express support of the congress. so that statement from mitch mcconnell, the republican leader. another key republican senator, bob corker, responding to the president's statement with this, and i'll put this up right now. i am very pleased that the president has listened to the suggestion we and many others have made to bring this authorization to congress. at this point in our country's history, this is absolutely the right decision, and i look forward to seeing what the administration brings forward and to a vigorous debate on this
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important authorization. glor gloria borger, he is getting support for the decision to go to congress but not necessarily the vote. we don't know what the language is going to be, we don't know what the formal authorization will entail, if you will, but as i said, this is a real political roll of the dice as far as this president is concerned. although i have no doubt, if he were still a senator as opposed to being president, he would want congressional authorization to be employed. >> and we don't know what the language of this is going to be, but in a way, this could be very much a part of the obama legacy, going forward, wolf, because here as a senator who rose to prominence, talking about how you need congressional approval for the war in iraq, an anti-war senator, this is something for his kind of political arc, if you will, makes a lot of sense. the question is whether he's going to be able to win and
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whether they're going to be able to convince these recalcitrant members of congress, who are nervous about this. because don't forget, public opinion right now is nervous about this. so he's got to convince not only members of congress but also their constituents. and one way to convince members of congress is to turn public opinion. and, you know, this is a president who has been pretty good at that, but again, the evidence will become clearer, i think, from the united nations as we just heard that could work in his favor. maybe the backlash in great britain, if there is a backlash to the vote there in the parliament, could work in his favor. maybe john mccain will sort of be able to help him out here, even though mccain believes it's not enough. maybe congress would authorize him to do more than he wants to do. these are all sort of unknowns that are up in the air right
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now. >> and as officials of the white house, we're looking at the most recent poll. there was an nbc news poll that came out yesterday. should congressional approval be needed before military action in syria? 79% of the american public in this poll said it should be required, congressional approval. 16% said not required. 79 to 16, that's a pretty overwhelming majority that congressional authorization is needed. >> so here's the interesting thing about that. people have no confidence in congress. we see the polls about confidence in congress almost down in the single digits. but what the american public wants to see is a congress and a president that's on the same page when it comes to this kind of an important decision. i believe this is a debate that the american public will pay very, very close attention to. >> and the buildup to that debate between now and september 9, assuming that's when congress comes back from its recess, will be intense, and of course that week, the buildup to the votes on the floor of the senate and
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the floor of the house will be dramatic, to be sure, with the stakes enormous. the president, as we heard just a little while ago, made a very, very powerful statement saying he has decided the united states should, in fact, take military action in syria, but he also said he wants congressional authorization first. listen to this. >> years ago, the world watched in horror as men, women and children were massacred in syria in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century. yesterday the united states presented a powerful case that the syrian government was responsible for this attack on its own people. our intelligence showsassad regime and its forces preparing to use military rockets in damascus and acknowledging that a


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