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tv   Sanjay Gupta MD  CNN  August 31, 2013 1:30pm-2:01pm PDT

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just by the american people but american politicians and around the world because of iraq to go into syria. >> jay newton-small, "time" magazine, thanks so much for come? >> thank you. the president today making his case for military action in syria. we're taking a closer look at his plan and his strong messages to congress, world leaders, and also the american people. but tracking all the action and hearing everything from our marketing partners, the media and millions of fans on social media can be a challenge. that's why we partnered with hp to build the new nascar fan and media engagement center. hp's technology helps us turn millions of tweets, posts and stories into real-time business insights that help nascar win with our fans.
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try fixodent. it helps create a food seal defense for a clean mouth and kills bacteria for fresh breath. ♪ fixodent, and forget it. i'm john berman. welcome back to cnn's special coverage of the syria crisis. hours ago we heard from president obama in the rose garden making his case for a limited u.s. military action in syria. we're going to go through the president's speech piece by piece, analyzing his words, what he said and why. let's bring in our panel, u.s. air force lieutenant general michael short joins us now from washington. cnn intelligence and security analyst bob bear is in colorado,
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and dana bash who has been doing fantastic reporting is live for us in washington. bit oba president obama started about the nature of the chemical attack in syria. listen to what he sglad taid. >> ten days 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 shows the assad regime and its force preparing to use chemical weapons, launching rockets in the highly populated suburbs of damascus, and acknowledging that a chemical weapons attack took place. all of this corroborates what the world can plainly see. hospitals overflowing with
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victims, terrible images of the dead, all told, well over 1,000 people were murdered. several hundred of them were children. young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government. >> general short, i'm wondering if i can start with you here. the president focusing on the brutal nature of what the u.s. alleges happened there, talking about it being an affront to humanity. why is it so important for him to send that message, not just here domestically, but around the world? >> john, i think she talking to a much broader audience than -- and an audience that might specifically be concerned with events in syria. i think he is now talking to kim jong-un he is talking to leadership in iran. he is talking to anyone who thinks that the u.s. might bluff and not follow through when we've said we're going to do something. so from my view as a professional military man, this
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has ramifications beyond syria and it impacts our ability to do the things we need to do in the rest of the world. >> bob, you worked for years in the intelligence community and you heard the president there talk about the intelligence, the strength of the intelligence. he says the syrians used chemical weapons against their own people. based on what you've seen and your vast experience in this field, is it convincing evidence? i'm not hearing bob here right now. dana, let me ask you this, congress, are they at all swayed by the horrific nature of what the president says went on in syria? >> oh, absolutely. i mean, there's no question about it. and that really at the end of the day is going to -- if you sort of look ahead of what is likely to be pretty powerful and passionate debate, is probably going to be what is going to sway some people who are on the fence about whether to vote no
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or yes. having said that, i just got off the phone with a republican senator, ron johnson of wisconsin, who told me that he is very much in favor of punishing bashar al-assad but he actually thinks he is inclined to vote no at this time and the reason is pretty much the same senators john mccain and lindsey graham gave in a statement that you read earlier on the air, which is that they obviously all have been very supportive of being robust and aggressive against assad and helping the rebels, for example. but they think that a limited strike would actually do more damage than not. in fact, senator johnson told me if that's all it is you're better off doing nothing and keep them wondering what we would do if we really got serious. if you have those people who are hawkish and might vote no and the more anti-war republicans the president is going to have to make a lot of calls. we knew that already but his work is more cut out for him than what we thought. >> dana, while i have you here, if it's important as the president says to weigh in on
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this issue and if so many members of congress agree that they should weigh in on this issue, why wait as long as they are? i mean, the house won't come back until september 9th, which is ten days away from now. the senate might come back a little bit earlier than that. if this is so crucial and there are lives sat@stake and an important message to send to the world here, why wait a week? >> intelligent excellent question. they're saying we think it's important to vote but why are we waiting? i was also told by another republican senator who was on a call this afternoon with senators hagel and kerry and others that several republican senators pushed them to say, why are we waiting, this doesn't make a lot of sense. if you think that this is so important, militarily and for others reasons, if we wait, what's to say that assad won't get some civilians and put them in and around the target areas to make the collateral damage worse? the answer was that they were on a non-secure line and they couldn't give the classified
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reason why they feel comfortable. but it's an excellent question and one that they have debating within the democratic-led senate whether or not to bring them back early next week. >> stick with us. we're going to continue to break down the president's speech. mom, dad told me that cheerios is good for your heart, is that true? says here that cheerios has whole grain oats that can help remove some cholesterol, and that's heart healthy. ♪ [ dad ] jan?
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welcome back, everyone. i'm john berman with cnn's special coverage of the crisis in syria. we're analyzing president obama's speech this afternoon. the president wants congress to debate and vote on the limited u.s. military response, this after syria's government allegedly unleashed chemical weapons on its own people. our panel will talk about this u.s. air force lieutenant michael short and cnn analyst bob bear and dana bash, chief correspondent for cnn. president obama says he is ready to act but he wants congress to get involved first. listen. >> after careful deliberation i have decided that the united
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states should take military action against syrian regime targets. this would not be an open-ended intervention. we would not put boots on the ground. instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. but i'm confident we can hold the assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out. 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 our capacity to execute this mission is not time sensitive. it will be effective tomorrow or next week or one month from now. i'm prepared to give that order. but, having made my decision as commander in chief, based on
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what i am convinced is our national security interests, i'm also mindful that i'm the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. i've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our milita military might but in our example of the people, by the people, and for the people. that's why i've made a second decision, 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 hard. i absolutely agree. 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. in the coming days my administration stands ready to provide every member with the information they need to understand what happened in syria and why it has such
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profound implications for america's national security. and all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote. i'm confident in the case our government has made without wait for u.n. inspectors. i'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a united nations security council that so far has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to holds a sad accountable. many people have advised against taking this decision to congress. and undoubtedly they were impacted by what we saw happen in the united kingdom this week when the parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the prime minister supported taking action. yet while i believe i have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, i no we thi
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know that the country will be stronger and our actions will be more effective. >> all right. bob, you've been in the intelligence community for years here. hopefully you can hear me right now. you've been in contact with some of your former resource tons ground in syria over the last several days. how do you think they're responding to the president's delay or pause in going to congress for some kind of vote now? >> you know, i actually talked to them right after the president's speech. and it came as a surprise to them. they were expecting to -- these are regime sources. they were expecting to get hit today or tomorrow. it came as a moment of relief for them. more than that, they think they have a certain period here to start an offensive against the opposition in a couple of key areas. they look at it as the united states backed down on this. it was encouraged by this. and they didn't say they were going to use more chemical
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weapons but the implication was they would launch some sort of offensive in the interim but before congress could meet and see what they can get away with. but i just think in my opinion this is a terrible setback in the arab world. we've been waiting for this for so long. everybody was prime for something to happen. and then waiting for congress now is a huge setback for the people in the area. >> general short, the president didn't wait for congress or even go to congress on the issue of libya, when the united states joined the air strikes in libya two years ago. the white house says the reason this is different than libya is in libya there was an eminent threat, the towns and villages may have been overrun by a daffy's forces at the time and this time there's no eminent threat. you can act in a week, two weeks, or a month. that's the information that president obama has been given by his military advisers. as a former air force general, do you think that's the case? do you think the timing here is irrelevant?
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>> john, i don't think it is. i'm an old fighter pilot. i certainly don't want to second-guess a chairman of the central command commander. what i focused on in the president's remarks were he said he wanted to take action to deter future use of chemical weapons and to degrade the capability to use those weapons. i am not at all convinced that a t-lamb strike and a t-lamb strike only will act as a deterrent to future operations and i'm very, veryerned that using cruise missiles only will allow us to get to the target set that enables his use of chemical weapons. the chemical weapon target set is mobile. were i the commander, the air commander, the subordinate to the centcom commander i think i would have strongly advocated the use of man's systems. now, i understand, that that increases the risk significantly for the president but i would have made the best case that i could make that the b. 2 and f-22 were appropriate against this target cess. there are certain targets denied to the cruise missile simply
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because of its design and capability. but putting man's systems into syria, i believe, would allow us better to address the target set that the president appears to want to get after, the destruction of which would deter further use and degrade further use. >> dana, you're hearing a lot of skepticism on this panel here with you as to the president's actions right now. and you've been on the phone hearing a little bit of skepticism in congress already. so how much work does the white house have to do and how do you suspect they will go about doing it in congress? >> a lot of work. and in part, their work is going to be tougher because they -- looks as though just from reading the tea leaves and talking to sources in the leadership, particularly in the house, republican leadership, is they're saying this is your problem, mr. president. if you want this, you've got to get the votes. so that is going to make it an even more up hill climb. also just as we were talking i was seeing some more e hails
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coming through from some people who should generally be the president's natural allies. not necessarily on the issue but just in general. for example, ed markey, the new senator from massachusetts. he makes clear in his statement he is not sold at all and it's going to take some time. another e-mail from a conservative senator dan coates, veteran of the senate who says the same thing, i've got to wait. i've got to see. i've got to talk to my candidates and get the classified information. it is absolutely not -- anybody says they know this is doing to pass from my reporting, they just simply don't know. >> there's no one better at getting this reporting than, you dana. thank you so much. we'll continue to break down the president's speech right after this break. ♪ turn around ♪ every now and then i get a little bit hungry ♪ ♪ and there's nothing good around ♪ ♪ turn around barry ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪ ♪
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i'm john berman. we're analyzing president obama's speech today on the crisis in syria. the president expressed some frustration today with world leaders who are not publicly supporting him. let's listen. >> what's the purpose of the international system that we built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98% of the world's people and approved overwhelmingly by the congress of the united states is not enforced? make no mistake, this has implications beyond chemical warfare. if we won't enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to these who foul up other fundamental rules, to governments who would choose to build nuclear arms, to terrorists who would spread
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biological weapons, to armies who carry out genocide. we cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say. the accords we sign, the values that define us. >> let's go tour of panel now. bob baer, the president does sound frustrate with leaders around the world right now, in particular for their lack of support for standing up to the use of chemical weapons right now. does the president have reason top frustrated, do you think? >> absolutely. hundreds of people have been slaughtered in syria thanks to chemical weapons. we simply don't know what bashar al-assad will do next. will he be encourage bid thd th we've done nothing. yes, he's absolutely right to be frustrated. >> general short, the president isn't getting the support that i think he would like from a lot of other countries from around the world right now but as a former fighter pilot, as you said, how much does that support really matter? >> i think it matters a great deal. we want to act as part of a
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coalition. we don't want to be seen as the cowboy as some folks have seen us for perhaps the last ten years. this reminds me of kosovo where the world was horrified over the genocide that was occurring but quite frankly it took us six months to act. >> general michael short, bob baer, thank you for joining us today. coming up, they've been in and out of syria for the last two plus years. four of our international correspondents are joining this congress right after this break.
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you're in the "cnn newsroom." i'm john berman. we want to welcome in our viewers in the united states and all around the world right now. the big story this hour, huge developments in the syria story. let's bring you up to speed. it's the option that many did not see coming. president obama telling the world that a military strike on syria will not happen unless congress gives its s approval >> after careful deliberation i have decided that the united states should take military action against syrian regime targets. this would not be an open-ended intervention. we would not put boots on the ground. instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. that's why i've made a second decision, i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american peoples representatives in congress. for the last several days we've heard from members of cons


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