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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 5, 2013 1:00am-6:01am EDT

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personnel recovery forces. boots on the ground. he also said it may also fail boots on the ground. he also said it may also fail to reduce the violence or shift the momentum because the regime relies on surface fired mortars, artillery, and missiles. it is not a very good option. you said establish buffer zones. you estimated one billion dollars a month. you said control chemical weapons. american men and women, $1 billion a month. i understand that is not advocated. i have a simple question, everything i read from your summary indicated there is no guarantee of a lasting peace in syria or in the region nor that they are american friendly, after we have a gargantuan outlay of american money,
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resources, and maybe american blood and lives if they retaliate. no guarantee. is that a fair statement? >> i would remind you the answer to the letter i sent was related to the question i received, what would it take to tip the balance in favor of the opposition and delete to -- lead to the overthrow of the regime. i want to make sure that is separate from today. >> i got that. would you say that is a fair statement, no guarantee on the other and? -- end? peace in syria, and whoever comes out on the other side will be our friends. no guarantee. >> that is not the stated objective. >> that was not my question.
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would you guarantee after trying to establish the objective you are seeking to establish we do not have a guaranteed of a stable syria and whoever comes out would be our friend. >> i would not guarantee anything. this is unpredictable. it is complicated. it is dangerous. what we are thinking through, diplomatically, international coalition, all of the factors we talked about today -- >> i am running out of time. >> that is a diplomatic settlement. >> secretary kerry, your response. >> i can't give you a guarantee about the outcome that i can give you guarantee the united states of america can make it clear to a side it is going going to cost them to use chemical weapons and we can have
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an impact on deterring his capacity. that guarantee is what i can give you. that is the president is seeking seeking to do. >> at what price. >> not of the price you described. absolutely not. >> if american credibility is at stake, if anybody were to attack us, this congress would respond with the full force and fury of the military. >> congressman, not everything comes down in terms of threat or potential threats to our country to somebody attacking us. a lot of things we do in preparation, we also do it in the context on occasion, as we did in bosnia, to have a settlement. to save lives. that is what we have achieved. we have achieved that previously
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and i believe it is vital to the united states to assert this principle and to begin to move this troubled part of the world in a different direction. that is what we are working on. >> thank you, mr. chairman. obviously this has been a long day. it is of critical importance we are having this discussion. i applaud the president for including congress in this debate. i agree we have to show resolve and we have to show we are committed to our allies. we still need to be convinced. not that atrocities have occurred. we are unanimous in our condemnation of what assad has done. we need to know exactly what our goals are and our object to its. this is increasingly a complex
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situation. secretary hegel, when i was home in sacramento county, people were stopping me in the grocery stores. my neighbors were pulling me aside on the street. all of my colleagues have been inundated with phone calls, e- mails, and almost unanimously people don't want us to strike syria. they are fatigued. these are the people i represent. my question is, what can i tell them about why these strikes are in our national security interest? why it matters to these people who are struggling every day? how do i communicate what our plan is? >> i understand your question clearly. i understand the responsibility you have to give those you
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represent a clear answer. that is partly why the president wanted to bring this before the congress of the american people would have an opportunity to hear all of the questions. my answer to you is, for you to give to your constituents, it is clearly in the interest of our country because, as we have noted today, the use of chemical weapons, if it becomes a standard, if it becomes an art of war, a method of war, that it is accepted by the world, which it has not been, it jeopardizes our country, homeland, troops, people all over the world. you look at the nations that have stockpiles, one nation we are talking about, has used those. north korea has them.
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what about iran? this is in the interest of the united states. this is in the interest of the united states. >> listening to those concerns and why it is in the national security interest, again listening to my constituents, they understand the importance of maintaining our credibility and our standing as a nation. it seems so far away for them. these issues seem very far away. as we discussed, we are sending a message to assad but we are not securing these chemical stockpiles. i think general dempsey, you, in your testimony indicated how difficult it would be to secure
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chemical stockpiles to make sure they do not fall into the hands of terrorists. if that is not our stated goal, to make sure he we are securing our homeland, we are making sure our neighborhoods are safe, it's a very difficult goal to articulate to my constituents. >> let me remind you of something that has been noted earlier. next week we are going to celebrate, not celebrate, we are going to remember what happened in this country on that september day in 2001. we all recall where we were. how many of my constituents during those days in nebraska ever thought about or knew where afghanistan was? or had ever even heard of this organization called al qaeda?
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there is a clear, living example of how we are not insulated from the rest of the world. how things can happen to the united states in this country if we are not diligent and think through these things and stay ahead of these things and take action to prevent them from occurring. maybe something would not happen in this country for a couple of years. i don't know. the next residents, the next chairman, the next group of members may have to deal with this in a bigger way if we are not paying attention now. 9/11 anniversary, a very clear example you could use with your constituents. >> scott perry, pennsylvania. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to start with some corrections for the record since
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it has been a topic of discussion. i have the quote from the president. we start seeing a bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. that way change my calculus. that would change my equation. that is the president in 2012. just because some folks like to revise history. secretary kerry, one question to start out. would you consider sarin gas a weapons of mass destruction? >> yes. >> ok. they were used in iraq, found in iraq before i got there, for those who say the past administration lied about weapons of mass destruction. now, some quotes here for you.
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this is from the president. the president does not have the power to authorize the military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping in a minute an imminent threat to the nation. that was in 2007. if the u.s. attacks another country without a mandate and without evidence that can be presented, there are questions of whether international law supports it. that was 2013. 2013, august 31, i believe i have the authority to carry out this military action without specific authorization, i know the country will be stronger and our actions will be more if -- effective if the strike is authorized by congress. you, president obama, have expressed your support for the war powers resolution. section 2c says the president
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may use u.s. armed forces abroad only pursuant to a declaration of war, authorization, created by an attack on the united states. we have a credibility and trust issue. i questioned ambassador ford about our strategy and i could get no answer regarding the crossing of a red line, which i think was a capricious statement. we are here right now. with the situation in front of us. will the president abide by the wishes of the representatives of the american people if there is a no vote on a resolution in this congress? >> look, i can't answer for the president. he answers for himself obviously and i answer to him.
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i can guarantee you the president has made it clear he believes he has the authority within the constitution in the executive branch to be able to take action without congressional approval and that has happened again and again under presidencies of both parties. i don't think we're going to advantage ourselves with that constitutional debate. >> that is critical. we talk about how we are going to do what we're going to do. with all due respect, i am glad the president came to congress to get this question answered, he made the statement before he came to congress. it is my opinion when the american people said we don't want you to do this, and when the international community said we are not with you, then he
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came to the congress. he had a shining vision in the beginning of a grand strategy that would involve the congress. >> look, we can have a discussion, needless to say, you do not agree with the president's approach to some of these issues. maybe many of them. maybe all of them. and you are a member of the other party. the president is not your president of choice. he is the president we have. it does not do us any good to debate those differences with the president. what is important is to discuss whether or not the fact he has come to you and he is requesting this authority and he has made his decision. now let's decide whether or not, together, we can find a common
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ground in the interest of our country to do what is necessary to hold a man accountable for his use of chemicals, weapons of mass destruction. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. i have a tremendous amount of respect of respect for the three of you and your service to this country on some many levels. i also have the privilege and honor of serving our country in uniform and deployed with the hawaii national guard in 2005. one of my daily responsibilities serving in a medical unit was going through a list every day of every injury and casualty throughout the entire region. looking for and taking care of our hawaii soldier. it is those experiences and those memories as well as the many innocents who have been killed in syria that i carry
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with me every day. through this discussion, and take our responsibility very seriously, as do you. there is no question, we have seen it today, the use of these chemical weapons is horrifying. my concerns, the path remains unclear to me on many levels. the right course of action, the most effective, and whether or not he stated objectives you have you have spoken about today and previously, as well as making sure we have a realistic and honest understanding of what the next steps are and what the consequences could be. that is where my concern is. the answer of what happens next. i think we can place many limitations on what role the united states will play, through
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resolutions and other means. whether we like it or not the consequences of her actions will impact the civil war, a very complicated region and once we are involved with our military it is likely we will have to consider the extended will we will play in any retaliation that occurs. i have three major questions, one is the realistic possibility a limited strike will not achieve your objective. the targeted strike resulting in a deterrence of his further use of weapons of mass distraction, for him and around the world. i have to look back at iraq where there were thoughts that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. he was deposed, captured, and hang and that falls short of that action. why would taking this lesser action deter him or other
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dictators when that example of saddam hussein has not deterred assad? each of you has made a distinction between this limited strike in providing aid to opposition forces by weakening assad with this below, are we in directing -- indirectly assisting the opposition forces? and with the use of chemical weapons, you stated that the target you're talking about will be linked to means of control of these chemical weapons without actually releasing the weapons themselves. i wonder what your strategy and objectives are regarding securing these weapons across syria, especially if the regime falls. how we secure them given the nonsupport from russia and china? people who have stated explicitly their desire to harm our people and american interest.
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>> very good questions. thank you for your service. very very much. general, if you want to take the last one. >> i can do that. this is what we get for training you had to ask questions. and thanks for your service. i will take on the question of security of the weapons in the event of the fall of the regime. we have a declassified level contingency plan with regional partners to secure a finite, a limited number of sites, the challenge is the number of attentional sites. the regime has a tendency to move their chemical weapons around. we think to secure them but it may not be. i would tell you we do have contingency plans with regional partners.
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it is a very heavy lift. >> with respect to the limited strike, not achieving the objective, the general spoke to that earlier. he has confidence we have the ability to appeal our objective. if not in the first volley, we have the ability to achieve that it. and he said would it inadvertently helped the opposition? i have said it many times, as a collateral, component of this, and rejected -- degradation will be of benefit to the opposition but that is not the fundamental purpose of the initiative the president is asking you to engage in. >> thank you to all of the witnesses for your service, particularly military service. you spoke about how the use of
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this gas breached the norm of civilized behavior and we need to enforce this norm, like you would do lessons learned by children and bullies. i know you got irritated about benghazi. that was not on your watch. as i look at it, that same line of reasoning should have applied. the assassination of a diplomat reaches norms that were recognized far longer than the use of gas and yet the u.s. has not acted to avenge the death of the four americans, including our ambassador. that lack of response, using the same line of reasoning could embolden terror groups that they can do this and that we may not respond. you are not responsible but there is a frustration among my constituents about how we handle that. not on your watch but i wanted to clear up how some of us view that.
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>> i appreciate completely, i think it is different from the earlier questions. i appreciate and respect the need for justice to be done. believe me, we have this discussion in the state department about the steps that are being taken. there are steps being taken. it is not a back burner issue. and in an appropriate setting i would be delighted to share with you exactly what is going on. that accountability is a priority for the president. >> we appreciate that. secretary kerry, do you think striking syria will have an effect on whether iran decides to continue with its nuclear program or abandon it? >> i think whether or not the united states stands up to enforce this century-old
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prohibition on the use of weapons will, in fact, affected not only iran but loads of people posting team about whether the united states is good for its word. >> you think it is possible i ran seeing a strike against the, they will decide to abandon -- >> i did not say that. it will affect their thinking about how serious the united states is. i can't predict what they will decide to do. i tell you this, it will enter into their calculation about what we might be prepared to do. if we don't do anything, i guarantee you that will enter into their calculation. >> my fear is they have made their determination and they're going to continue. i guess we will find out. in terms of opposition groups, when you degrade assad, you are benefiting the opposition. i think the bulk of that energy
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is with sunni supremacists. it is difficult to figure out where everybody is. there was a quote when we were evaluating libya you said we did not know who all of the people were in eastern europe. if you asked lafayette the question if he knew everyone over here when he helped us, i think you have to have a sense of the course of history and what they are fighting for. do you stand by that quote? i ask because we have seen with the arab spring, we have seen the reaction to going into afghanistan. what is the animating impulse in these muslim countries? there was a comment about the pro-western government. i have not seen any evidence to suggest that would be the primary impulse motivating the
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people. i fear what would motivate them would be the muslim brotherhood, sunni islam is him, her groups. that is the sense of history a lot of us see. -- islamism, terror groups. that is the sense of history a lot of us see. >> very good question. the answer is there are some really bad actors in some of these groups in syria. they are really bad. there are a couple of other groups some people characterize as worse. one of the things that is concentrating the president's thinking about syria and the reason for supporting the opposition is to have a buttress against those folks who, if syria continues to move in the
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direction it has been going, if there is an implosion, they will be strengthened. there will be more of them. this is something that does bring russia and the united states together. putin discussed their concerns about the extremist. syria, traditionally, in recent years, has been a secular country. the vast majority of the opposition is hopeful to have a very different syria, a syria that has minority rights protected, that is inclusive. that is what the opposition has committed themselves to and is talking about wherever they go in the world. i hope you will recognize the best way to isolate that extremist opposition is to -- the extremist components, is to
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rapidly build up the opposition and diminish assad's capacity. >> joaquin castro of texas. >> thank you for your service and your testimony today. there has been a lot of strong arguments made on both sides in favor of taking action and against taking action. i had a chance to hear 1500 comments from social media post and e-mails, calls, etc. just to recap, i have boiled it down to the big arguments. there is a moral imperative because of the use of chemical weapons. we need to prevent a repeat behavior. repeat action will others. the u.s. reputation is on the line. we need to show we are not bluffing. and that the world can count on
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our word. and the effect on our allies. the arguments include that this war is not worthwhile. there are extremist both sides. america should focus on its own problems. military action will have no effect. these actions are not enough to change things. military action will make things worse. there will be collateral damage. war will lead to more war. we should take alternative action. we should try diplomacy or do this with a coalition. and that it is too expensive and america should focus on its own issues at home. in making this decision, i publicly stated in san antonio, the town i represent, i am open to the idea of military strikes but i want to review the evidence. that is where i stand today. i have a few questions for you.
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if we act militarily or decides not to. what is the policy we are establishing or the precedent and, important for me, what will this mean for future generations of americans, generation x, and americans that have not been born yet? >>ere will that leave america?>> >> those are very appropriate considerations. each of the ones you have listed. where will we be? not establishing a precedent. we would be upholding a precedent.
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upholding the unbelievably committed, global reaction to the horror of world war i to the use of gas rampantly and to the world's condemnation, the fact over 180 countries have signed on to this convention. we would be upholding it. from the perspective of the baby boomers, whatever you want to assign us a concept, i think it is a vital statement about multilateral, international commitment to norms by which you, your generation in the future generations would want to live. i would hope this is something you would support because it is a matter of values and interest's coming together in an appropriate manner. i think the absence of our willingness to enforce that would be dangerous for our country for the long-term. >> what precedent do we set if we don't act?
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>> for the knighted states of america, it would be an unusual united states of america, it would be an unusual statement of our willingness to uphold something we have fought for and been a part of a long time. i think we would be walking away from a responsibility and signaling a new moment of confrontation and difficulty for a country and many other respects on many other issues. >> do you feel it would start to change our role in the world? >> it would change the perception of our willingness to live up to its traditional role in the world than they would have a profound impact on people's judgments about what we are willing to stand up for. i caution you politely and humbly, i believe very deeply it will invite other contests of conflict that will put us to the test with potentially graver consequences.
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>> mr. doug collins of georgia. >> i thank you for being here and i thank you for your service and i associate myself with the representative quite. -- from hawaii. you hear a lot of things and you can get a lot of questions. i'm not going to steal the thunder of others that make come but what i have heard today concerns me. i walked into this hearing concerned about the actions we are taking. i am still there. many of them have to do with military questions and the questions that come from the statements, such as secretary hegel, there is no clarity on the ground. there is no good options. this leads me to an understanding of the limited involvement, which has been talked about over and over. if it would not, your statement a moment ago leaves an open
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ending. there is another volley that would come if it did not achieve the and. just a few questions on this issue. according to the assessment that was given, information suggested a possible chemical attack was imminent on august 21. sunday through wednesday of the 21st there were syrian chemical weapons personnel in the area. the report says prior to the attack there were human signals showing the assad regime preparing for a chemical weapon attack. with 48 hours notice, did the u.s. military not take action or quickly enough to convene the un security council? why did we not act knowing the history? why was there nothing done?
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>> that information is not real- time in terms of the way it comes in. it goes through a process. >> you really now have concerned me even more our intelligence operations, without getting into a discussion, we are finding out after the fact. the limited engagement to take out the operation or the engagement of the chemical weapons, what is the confidence level? why should i or anybody else say there is a concern our intelligence is not real-time enough to answer your question? >> different kinds of intelligence, sir. as you probably know, there are signals, which are what you are referring to, full motion video,
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means that allow us to establish pattern of life. >> there is a concern that the initial assessment could be wrong. there seems to be a lot of thought to this is a one strike. although i am getting rumor, not rumor, the discussion of a 30 day, 40 day window. that is the concern i am having. are we going to throw a shot across the bow, that is not we we are looking at. are we saying this could be a sustained attack? without telegraphing, that is a concern. i will stop it there. that is a concern many should have. in this atmosphere also, very quickly, after the initial gas attack, we upped our anti--- ante. how much of that got their? how much of that assistance is
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making a difference? others have said we have not been able to get the equipment to them. >> i think we have made a difference but not as much as we would like. i do not want to go into details. >> in light of what we are doing i in kid is pertinent information -- in what we are doing i think it is pertinent information. >> it is because it was not authorized until a couple of months ago. we are just getting up on it. >> if we break it, we own it. >> we did not break it. >> i understand. one quick question. it disturbed me when you said this. i'm going to give you a chance. basically you said the reason we are acting now is the level of
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death and the carnage had risen to a level where you felt like you needed to act. what you just said a few minutes ago was we had to have a lot of bodies to make a compelling case and that one did not matter. i do not believe that is what you meant. if we are doing this because of death, one would matter. >> i appreciate that. i don't want to leave any misinterpretation. in the first instances we had a lot of difficulty getting a lock down on the level of intelligence that made everybody comfortable. partly because it was a smaller venue. there was not the kind of immediacy, social media, other things we have here. signatures and so forth. we did not have it. in this instance we do. it happens to be an even more egregious of event.
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the body numbers are not the distinction it is the comfort level. and then at that point the president did not want to rush into something. >> these are the things that caused my concern. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for your patience here at this hearing. i want to ask you specifically with hezbollah and their involvement. if there was an attempt on their part to gain access, intelligence on chemical weapons, would, under the authorization, the president seeks, you see them as an acceptable target for having the ability to acquire or attempting to acquire? >> i don't want to -- >> would it be covered under the authorization?
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>> it does not apply to iran, hezbollah. it is not entity specific. it is with respect to the assad machine -- regime's possibility of chemical weapons and solely focused on the degrading and preventing of use by the assad regime. >> what are we actively engaged in to make sure that they are not gaining access to these chemical weapons to be used in another theater? >> general, do you want to take this? >> whether they even want any part of chemical weapons, and if so what might the the instrument, but that really would be classified. >> if syria transfer their
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chemical weapons to a state- controlled entity the receiving would not be an action from us? >> these are not externally from us. there is evidence that both iran and hezbollah have opposed the use of chemical weapons. >> let me go further. your quote was, do we mean what we say? are we going to start a new foreign-policy where we truly mean what we say? because six minutes into your testimony mentioned there were
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11 other events where gas or chemical weapons were used in serious and yet we've done nothing. when we start to look at that, is that a new day for foreign- policy when we start to say something and draw a red line that truly is a red line? >> with respect to those other incidents, this is an intelligence community assessment. >> this is not new intelligence. we have known this for many months. >> congress, i know this. i have been arguing and talking about it last year. >> i read your reports. >> the quality of the evidence, the level of the event, people were uncomfortable with the notion that it calls for action but it did not necessarily rise to the level of what the president has decided. >> what is that level? 1000 deaths? it either require actions or it doesn't.
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>> what was that the date? i think some of them were prior to that. there has been a steady -- >> we can go back to august of last year. >> and there was a steady effort by the administration and others to send messages and they were sent very powerfully to the russians and they were sent directly to iranians. the messages were sent. >> today we are talking about military action. >> now there is a sense of those efforts being exhausted and this being a remedy of last resort. >> when can our enemies and our allies depend on us to take action when we have these kinds of things that happen? >> when the house passes the request for this resolution.
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>> as it relates to syria and everybody else? i'm talking about everybody else and internationally. >> we have proven our word good on everything the president said he was going to do. he is drawing down in iraq and afghanistan. we're working on the middle east peace process. we are continuing to prosecute al qaeda, yemen, elsewhere. we have decimated them in pakistan. we're working on a bilateral security arrangement. these are are things that are all going on. these broad sweeping assessments don't actually do justice to what is happening. >> ted yoho of florida. >> thank you for enduring the length of time here and i hope you men are men of prayer and that we seek guidance and wisdom
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as we work through this. i agree with many of my colleagues. our foreign-policy is confusing to the world. that is why i think we're sitting here today. the primary role as national security. i do not see a direct threat to the u.s. from the internal civil war in this area, as deplorable as it is. i think it is despicable, but what about the 108,000 killed by conventional warfare? our action would be one of attacking a sovereign nation, a nation that did not attack us and an act of war. if we start work, we invite more, do we not? i and the people i represent said in not just know but something like, heck no. don't get involved.
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the cwc agreement signed by 189 countries says that the is that transport or create chemical weapons are in violation. they're possibly supplying them with chemical weapons. maybe iran or china. there are probably other countries so we have to act now and do we act in totality? do we act now? once you stop, and this goes back to our confusing foreign- policy, it was a red line, it was not a red line. i just think we need clarity. i want to know where the 188 countries are that signed the agreement. if demanding that we come to the table on one side and mr. assad on other. i implore the administration to find a diplomatic solution because all i have heard his military intervention. i know you have talked about diplomatic solutions and that we
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supply the majority of the foreign aid around the world so we need to demand people come to the table and this is a moment in time, and history, where america can lead a new direction for a coalition of countries where the other 188 who signed can issue a political and diplomatic solution. it is time for a new foreign- policy. if we can win this and it can be one with diplomacy are not guns and bombs, senator kerry, yesterday you said you could not guarantee that u.s. troops would not be on the ground. >> i guaranteed that they would not be and i guaranteed that today. >> i have the transcript right here. >> i clearly said there would be no boots on the ground. >> even if the weapons fell into the hands of the bad people? >> there is nothing whatsoever
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>> thank you. you stated we would need thousands of of support troops on the ground. you did not say in syria but close by. where would they be? >> not related to this resolution. that is related to whether or not we took a position to support the opposition. >> the way i read this briefing as of two days ago it says in syria. >> no. >> do we have supported and authorization from turkey to use their air bases? or can that not be divulged? >> that is something we should talk about and a classified setting. with jordan and others. >> the world resolve for the international community, is there a doctrine that the u.s. should lead in moral conflicts. why is america always out on? i know we have the best military, but why are we out leading this again?
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>> let me answer that. mr. chair, i have to take more than 40 seconds to do it because it is a final questions for americans and this issue. congressman, i wish the world for a little more simple. i grew up in the cold war. i think all of us did. it was pretty east-west, communism and that is all the world we live in today. when the berlin wall fell, so did all of the things that tamped down a lot of sectarian, religious, and other conflicts in the world. the truth is we are one week away from 9/11 commemoration. 9/11 happened because there were ungoverned spaces who were opposed to modernity wanted to attack us and they did.
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i think most people, and making judgments about how to keep our country safe, make the judgment that there are a lot of folks out there who are committed to violent acts against lots of different people because that's what they want to do. we have to defend ourselves differently today and work to deal with these issues in a different way than we ever have before. we do have direct interest in what's happening in syria. there is a direct interest in our credibility with respect to this issue and you ask the question, why does the united states have to be out there? when our forbearers -- have you ever been to the cemetery in france by those beaches? why did those guys have to do
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that? because we were standing up with people for a set of values and fighting for freedom and no country has liberated as much land or fought as many battles as the united states america and turned around given it back to the people who lived there and you can own it and run it. we are the indispensable nation. this is because of who we are and what we have achieved. we should be proud of it. we have a great tradition to try to live up to in terms of looking for a peaceful road. not a road of jihadism. the moderate arab world, not religious extremists, they count on us to be able to help them transition. that is part of what the arab spring is about and it will not end quickly. it will not be over just like that. our own struggle for freedom
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took a long time. we need to have a longer view here. when he did think about the ways in which we can protect ourselves and i guarantee you if we do not stand up against chemical weapons in this instance we are not serving our national security interest. >> we go now to mr. luke messer of indiana. >> thank you, mr. chairman. someone has to go last and today that is me. i certainly thank my colleagues for sitting on the front row with me and thank you for the chairman to calling us back for what i think is very important work. thank you for your service and stamina today. we are entering almost the fourth hour of this hearing. i appreciate and respect the president's decision to bring this matter of authorization before congress. i was one of a broad group of 150 who signed onto a letter who requested that. i appreciate the president heating that request and ii& understand the legal arguments
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about whether or not it was necessary for him to do that. i would associate myself with congressman fairey's comments that it is now been made and the president has brought this before congress. i believe it is very important that the president abide by that vote. i will not revisit all of the other questions that others have asked today. i make that comment does someone who, if i had to vote today on whether or not to authorize force against syria under the circumstances presented before me, i would vote yes. the people of good conscience can come to a conclusion based on the facts and there is no more somber responsibility than to send men and women into combat. the facts as i see them is that
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chemical weapons were used, clearly our allies like israel believe action is needed. clearly evil dictators in iran and north korea elsewhere watched and undoubtedly an action embolden them. i am no fan of this this president's foreign policy, frankly. i believe that mismanagement over the course of the last several years have made problems since syria worst, but i want to make a point to all of you and it may lead to a question, but it is just simply this. that being my belief, the president and the three of you as a team having a lot of work to do to explain the necessity for this action with the american people.
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much of what you say the american people understand. we are all aghast at the atrocities that occurred in syria. america does not like to watch bullies stand by and do evil things to their people, but the american people inherently understand there are high risks to action here. if i were to make a suggestion, we have a lot of work to do to help the american people understand why the risks of action are less than the risks of inaction. the question i would ask is this what more can be done to further communicate with the american people? will the president make a speech from the oval office and one of the coming evenings? >> i have no doubt the president
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will. >> i have no further questions. >> one minute remaining. >> i think we just want to thank again the colleagues for taking the time to come back. we're not going to disagree with you that we do not need to take advantage of these next days to communicate to our fellow americans about why this is so critical. i would just leave you with this. general dempsey and i, he is correct when he says technically something may be an act of war and i understand what he's saying but i don't believe we are going to war. i just don't believe that. going to war is mobilizing a force, asking people to join up, committing troops on the ground, fighting to win. that's not what we are doing here. we are asking for permission, the president is asking for
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permission to take a limited military action, yes, but one that does not put americans in the middle of the battle. no boots will be on the ground whereby we enforce a standard of behavior that is critical to our troops, critical tour country, critical to the world and -- if you look at with the option is, if you don't want more extremism, then you should vote for this. to not vote for it is to guarantee the continuation of this kind of struggle that will encourage extremists. they will even encourage some friends of ours to support them in order to achieve their goal of removing assad. that will make the region far, far more dangerous and it will increase the humanitarian crisis. you will see more refugees, more
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pressure on our friends, the jordanians particularly, and more threat to israel in the process, more threat to lebanon in the process. i would just simply urge, do not send a message to someone like bashar al-assad that he will now have impunity because the one country that can lead this effort, that is the indispensable nation is going to walk away from this responsibility. i think the american people know when you say, do you want to go to war, of course not 100% we don't want to go to war. we are not going to war. we are taking an action that is in our national security interest in order to enforce a long-time standard. if that is not enforced, the world will be less safe and our citizens, no matter where you live in this country, will be less safe because the likelihood
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is greater that somebody somewhere will get their hands on those materials as a result of our inaction. thank you, mr. chairman. >> on behalf of the committee, i want to take the opportunity to thank all three of you for what has been a long but productive and i think certainly a necessary hearing here today before the house. i would also ask that the state and defense departments be prepared to respond promptly to the request from the committee, requests from our members as they continue to weigh the weighty decision on whether to to authorize the use of military force against assad's ability to use chemical weapons. the hearing stands adjourned.
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>> the brookings institution will host a discussion tomorrow about the syrian government's use of chemical weapons. former state and defense apartment -- department officials will participate. you can watch it live at 3:00 p.m. eastern year on c-span. the science does not actually tell us what to do. it tells us what we think will happen and then we have to make because onet that, of the implications of simon's line of argument is that the ,arth is always changing, we the societies, can change and many ways, and we?>?>?>?>?>?>?o not know that is necessarily case -- the case with the climate problem. if you take that idea, that>?>?> ascites -- societies can adapt,
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it leaves you with the question soh, even if we can adapt, many things that we care about are endangered by the changes. >> can human ingenuity change the planet? sunday night at 9:00 on "afterwards." book tv's book club is back this ." th with "this town read the book and see what other viewers are saying on our facebook page and on twitter. c-span. we bring public affairs offense from washington directly to you, putting you in the room at congressional hearings, white house events, briefings, and conferences, and offering complete gavel-to-gavel
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coverage of the u.s. house, all as a public service of private industry eared we are c-span, created 34 years ago and funded by your local cable and satellite provider. now, you can watch us in hd. >> the senate foreign relations committee voted to launch a military strike in syria in response to their government's use of chemical weapons against civilians. a resolution will commit 90 days of action. this is one hour 45 minutes.
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[laughter] >> the committee has rules against electronic games. [laughter]
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>> this meeting of the senate foreign relations committee will come to order. in the last you days, the committee has come together in a spirit of bipartisanship and drafted a resolution to authorize the use of limited military force in syria that i believe can achieve bipartisan support. there will be obviously through our process here on the committee, an amendment process, but it is my expectation that we will be able to achieve the
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goals largely set out by the resolution. i appreciate the spirit in which all members have come to this issue. this is one of the most weightiest issues that any memorable cast a vote on. we come to it seriously and committed to getting the facts and coming to their respective conclusions. i want to thank senator corker for being a close partner in making the resolution tailored and focused so that it reflects the general sentiment and will of the majority of the committee. i believe the interests of the american people, it gives the president the authority that he needs to respond to syria's use of chemical weapons against its
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own people. this is an authority he has asked for and it is an authority that we believe we have tailored in such a way that it meets those goals but also the concerns of members of the committee. we have developed language that we believe appropriately narrows the scope, duration and breadth of the campaign to meet concerns. i want to thank all of our colleagues who have engaged, sometimes very passionately, including senator mccain on this issue, for helping the committee and the nation focus its
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attention on the importance of what we are doing. this is a tightly tailored or specified authorization to give the president necessary and appropriate authority to use military force against the syrian government to protect the national security interest of the united date and our partners and degrade syria's capacity to use those weapons in the future. that the united states has a specific military plan to achieve the goal of responding to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the syrian
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government, and that the use of military force is consistent with protocols of u.s. strategy toward syria including achieving a negotiated settlement to the conflict. it has the limitation specifying that the resolution does not authorize the use of the united states armed forces on the ground in syria for the purpose of combat operations to ensure that there be no boots on the ground. the authorization would end after 60 days with the president having the authority to request and certify another 30 days and congress having the power to pass a resolution of disapproval. it provides united strategy for
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syria including a copper hence of review of economic and military policy toward syria. it requires a report to congress on the status of those military operations. let me thank senator corker and all the members of the committee for working together in the interest of the american people. to respond to this challenge, i believe it is a declaration of our values. it sends a clear message that the world cannot and will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons anywhere. with that, let me turn to my colleague and ranking member, senator corker or his statement.
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>> mr. chairman, i thank you. i want to thank you for your patience. for especially the briefing that we had this morning where obviously some themes were developed. in particular, through the line of questioning that took place i want to thank all the committee members for the humility but also the thoughtfulness that everyone has approached this issue with. in particular, i want to stress my appreciation to senator mccain and senator coons who i think were able to grasp the essence of developing themes that are going to further the markup in a very positive way. with that, thanks to all members, i have had plenty of time to be heard. i would rather defer. i know we have some members that may have only a short period of time with us. we are somewhat filibustering as we wait for language to be developed that encompasses the discussions taking place.
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with that, after chairman, thanks for bringing us to this place. >> all right. think you, senator corker. we are trying to logistically get to where we are at. i would entertain amendments of that seek to be offered to the resolution, senator paul. >> i commend the president for doing his constitutional duty and bringing before the congress and asking for the authority to go to war. i think it should be made very explicit that this is his constitutional duty and that we are bound by the constitution, bound by the ideas of the founding fathers. it was very explicitly presented by james madison in the federalist papers that the executive branch is the branch of government most prone to war and therefore, the constitution vested the power to go to war in congress. some would say this isn't a war, this bombing is not a war. sailors and ships are not war. that we only define war when there are boots on the ground. i think that would be an absurdly narrow definition of war. this will indeed be a war. hopefully it won't include casualties on our side. we should make a pretense about getting involved in a war. the president when he ran for office said that no president should unilaterally go to war without the authority of congress.
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many paid lip service to this, but this is a chance to vote for whether or not you believe this to be true. this will be a senate resolution that reads that the president does not have the 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. i submit it for recorded vote if i may. >> senator mccain. >> mr. chairman, first i would like to applaud senator paul's active participation in this issue. i respect very much his zeal in trying to make sure that the respective authority of congress and the president is preserved. i think what senator paul amendment brings up is something that i hope this committee will
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start to work on and that is the war powers act. in a little bit of contrast to what senator paul's interpretation of the constitution is, the war powers act, the president can act but has to come back to congress within 60 days. no president has ever agreed that that is constitutional and yet they have observed it. i think what senator paul's amendment brought up is this whole issue of constitutionality of when the president can take us to war, what the role of congress is, and how we address that very transcendently important issue that i think is a distorted balance between the congress and the president. i thank senator paul for his amendment even though i may not agree with it.
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he really does bring an important issue that we need -- it is wrong for a law to be on the books and every president of the united states saying it is not constitutional. if every president thinks it is unconstitutional, challenge it in court. they haven't. i thank senator paul for his amendment. >> one of the things that i think is misunderstood about the war powers act is that the war powers act does allow the president to take action in three specific cases.
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one, if a war has been cleared by congress. two, if there has been statutory approval under use of authorization of force. third is imminent attack. it doesn't give unlimited power to the president to authorize military force. we can debate whether it is constitutional or not but under the war powers act those are the only three ways you can go. the press and the media and everybody misinterprets the war powers act to be 60 days and he has to report.
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that is true but that is not the beginning of the act. that is one part of the act. >> could i just say to my friend in response, the third provision is what is not clear. we are about to enact a statutory act. i don't think it is quite as clear as senator paul -- >> senator durbin. >> mr. chairman, this is an important proposal by the senator from kentucky. we should take it seriously. the most awesome responsibility that we have as members of congress is the constitution. i would like to suggest to him that we take care in the language that we use and that we use the exact language of the war powers resolution as opposed to the which which you have added here. i think it will create some ambiguity if we put in a new standard. let me be specific. at the end of your amendment, you say does not involve, and you use the words, stopping an
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actual or imminent threat to the nation. the war powers act says, a national emergency created by attack on the united states or its territories or armed forces. if you would consider that as a friendly amendment to use the exact language of the war powers resolution which you referred to indirectly, i think we would be on more solid ground. >> yes, i would be very happy to. >> senator rich. >> mr. chairman, first of all, senator mccain is right. this is an important debate probably for another day. i submit an amendment. i see we haven't got it here. i think maybe i can make this simpler. if you go to page three and go
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to the third last line where it says the word constitution. where is the president has authority under the constitution, that is where the rub is. the argument is to whether or not he has authority. i would suggest that we take out the word constitution and state instead that whereas the president has authority under the war powers resolution of 1973. that will incorporate the exact language as suggested by senator durbin. i think it also, senator paul, gets us exactly where you and i want to be as far as our belief as to what the power of the president is. >> senator mccain. >> i like senator rick's point. that is a good one.
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this war powers issue is one i am obsessed about. senator mccain and i have talked and i hope we will address it. the debate we have had a last couple of days demonstrate the important of it. here is the challenge. i hope you will tell me i am wrong on this. i just read an ap report about your stated intention to filibuster a vote on the syria resolution if it hit the senate floor. it is hard to praise the president for bringing something to congress for a vote and then say you were going to try to filibuster to deny me the right to vote about it on the floor of the senate. >> misinterpretation from the media. >> i am just reporting what the ap is reporting.
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i would hope that if we are going to encourage the president to bring these matters to congress that we don't use procedural tricks to block congress from being able to vote on these matters. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator corker. >> i want to thank the senator from kentucky for bringing this up and say that senator kaine has wanted to address this issue. i think a process might begin with looking at the authorization for the use of military force in general. i know we have one specific to syria right now and we have lots of other activities that are taking place around the world. i know there have been discussions about trying to address that.
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build into the place of dealing with the war powers resolution in general. i thank him for bringing it to us today. i hope that we don't do anything today that takes away from our ability to pass something on the committee. >> let me just say that the chair appreciates senator paul's commitment and passion on this issue. i think that the issue is so significant to place into question the constitutionality of what the president does and does not have, and this particular context, is not timely. it deserves, including something that the ranking member has been pursuing for a while which is a debate and consideration of what authorization of military force looks like more broadly than in the context of syria, that would be an appropriate debate and hopefully a discussion in getting some key witnesses here. i cannot support, and the context of this resolution, to make weighty determinations even though it may be a sense of congress on the constitutionality of this particular set of issues in this timeframe. i would have to oppose the amendment.
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senator udall. >> thank you, chairman menendez. let me just say -- i know the issue of whether or not we put it in here is one that is pending and the chairman feels strongly about it. i am very proud of the congress. the way it has stepped forward and asserted its authority. we had at last count several hundred members sign a letter to specifically asked the president to not go forward and bring this to congress. to me, that is recognizing a new
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era in terms of congress rather than sitting back, actually saying, we are going to exercise our right under the constitution. the constitution specifically says, as senator paul has put in here, that the power to declare war is with the legislative branch, not with the executive branch. we have heard a lot of statements about whether or not the president can move forward regardless of this amendment. i think it is important to have this in here. i would applaud him and i hope
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that we have entered a new era where congress will assert its power under the constitution when we get into situations like this. so i would support the amendment if we get the opportunity to have a vote on it. that we have entered a new era thank you. >> any other members? senator rubio has not had an opportunity. >> this is an important issue regarding the role of congress in setting foreign policy and in particular it power to make war. i want to understand the amendments in the context of history. i think one that reflects what is being discussed here is an engagement when president reagan decided to launch a limited strike in libya. how does this reconcile with president reagan's decision in 1986 or grenada which involve ground troops, and operation of that magnitude? thank you.
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>> when you look at this and you look at a war powers act, this doesn't do anything beyond what the war powers act says. it does reiterate what the war powers act says. as has been discussed, there is some disagreement. some people don't think what we are getting ready to commence with is war. some people think the lesser the military attack, the less of a war it is. the constitution doesn't differentiate between big wars and small wars. it does differentiate in the war powers act between defensive action and an action that doesn't have some sort of immediate threat. i don't think either of the cases you mentioned, there was an immediate right to the united states. i think these are open to interpretation but what is not open to interpretation is an event like what we have now, whether or not the congress should have to give authorization. >> it is interesting we are having this debate on a request by the president for us to act under the war powers resolution. i think senator mccain is correct. this is a subject that the president and congress -- it is a debate we should have in congress. i am a strong supporter of the war powers act. i think presidents should adhere to the powers. i think the resolution that we have here is properly drafted. it says where the president has authority under the constitution. the president's responsibility to carry out laws passed by congress. we have already covered this. there is a specific reference to the war powers in this constitution. we are not going to be able to resolve in this committee the long-standing dispute between the executive and legislative and judicial branches of government as to how the exercise of force is authorized and implemented. i would urge us to stick to the issue at hand. this is one of the most challenging and difficult decisions for members to make on the authorization of force. it is heart wrenching. consequences of the use of force i think we shouldn't try to deal with the overall issues of authorization generally, which requires far more discussion. >> any other members?
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>> mr. chairman, i agree with senator cardin that the president has asked for authority under the war powers authorization. as a result of that, we ought to be clear here that that is what we are responding to. we have the word constitution in here and that is what causes the disagreement among parties. i would respectfully request we just take out the word constitution and accept what everybody agrees to, and that is that this is under the war powers resolution of november 7, 1973. if you put that in here, we can move on with the merits of it. as senator cardin correctly stated, this has been wrestled with by every branch of government. there is no resolution at this point. i am worried that if we put this in here, somebody is going to say, he is going to interpret that to be that this power is under the constitution, not the war powers resolution. >> i think that clause is beyond the authorization concluded in this bill. it is not in regards to chemical weapon used by syria. >> again, i come back too, we ought to get this behind us and get onto the merits of the thing. you don't even need this word. whereas is superfluous and it is causing a fight that we don't need to have. we are arguing about specific language of a whereas that we don't need in there. you can resolve this by changing the word constitution to work powers resolution. >> senator paul's amendment is
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broader than that specific note. i will give you the final word before we go to vote. >> what i would say is there never seems to be a good time to debate. this is a very good time to debate this. the nation is looking at us, asking us what we believe with regard to what our role is, what congress's role is. this is precisely the time to do it. what i would also say, is this precisely comes up because the president has been asked point blank, the secretary of state has been asked on at least two or three occasions what would happen if congress puts you down. are you going to stand by the authority of congress to make this decision? they have hedged. the vote is a very important vote because this is about -- like i have said to secretary
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kerry, you are probably going to win. the thing is, we need to be very clear that by coming, he is regard to what our role is, what seeking congressional authority. he must abide by it. you shouldn't get it both ways. we should say we are either for congressional authority or not. this is a great issue. it is a perfect time to talk about it. it is a perfect time to take a stance. thank you. >> i appreciate the senator's remarks. the issue is weighty and important, but not to be done in this context. i assume the senator is asking for a vote. his request is put forward. i am going to move to table the amendment because it is an expression -- from my view, this is an important issue that should be held. right now, it is much greater than the issue that is before us. i will move to table. the clerk will call the roll.
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[inaudible] >> mr. rubio? >> aye. >> mr. johnson? >> no. >> mr. mccain? [inaudible] >> mr. paul? mr. chair? >> aye. 14 aye, 5 nay. the amendment is taken. senator mccain. >> mr. chairman, i have two amendments. i move that they considered together since they are inextricably related. i would like to describe these amendments. i would like to thank senator coons -- this amendment is beyond -- on behalf of myself
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and senator coons.
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i thought this morning's session that was held was a very excellent ability for all of us
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to not only hear from the administration but to get a lot of questions answered and i appreciate you holding those. i thank you and senator corker for the hard work that you have done on this legislation. i think it may be one of the most important pieces of legislation that this committee will consider and i thank you and senator corker for your leadership. both of these amendments have to do with the issue of changing the battlefield situation in syria. the president of the united states has articulated three basic policy measures that he advocates. one, is to degrade the chemical weapons capabilities of bashar al-assad. two, to give greater support to the syrian army and those who are seeking to prevail. third, a change in the battlefield to switch the momentum which presently thanks to 4000 hezbollah, russian equipment being flown in every day, iranian assistance, the
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momentum is on the part of bashar al-assad. if we expect them to leave power, it would be because that situation is reversed and he believes that he cannot prevail. so what these two amendments do is state -- i will quote. it is a policy of the united states to change the momentum on the battlefield in syria so as to create a favorable condition for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in syria. a conference of u.s. strategy in syria should aim as part of a coordinated effort to degrade the capabilities of the assad regime to use weapons of mass
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destruction. this requires an amendment to start with that we basically replace part of the legislation as it is presently written and replace it with the following statement, whereas on may 21 2013, the foreign relations committee passed by a 15-3 vote a serious transition support act which founded the president's goal of assad leaving power an end and to the violence, are prerequisites for a stable democratic future for syria and peace in the region. sufficient incentives do not yet exist for the achievement of such goals. i might add, that entire act was passed by a 15-3 vote here in the foreign relations committee and is presently on the calendar. i hope my colleagues will appreciate that this is really important, that we are on record, that we want to change the military equation on the battlefield.
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i think any observer, all of us included, would agree that unless bashar al-assad believes that he is going to lose, it would be impossible for him to negotiate a peaceful settlement and departure from syria. i would like to ask my colleague senator coons, if you don't mind, to make remarks. i hope my colleagues will consider this amendment. >> senator coons. >> thank you. i think this offers a clarification. nothing about this adds to the scope of the authorization. nothing about this amendment adds to the scope of the authorization for the use of force. it does point the rest of our colleagues do valuable work that was done on this committee and that currently sits waiting for the consideration on the floor. it considered a wide range of factors and concerns in place.
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i want to draw your attention to the point of that is made here that our overall policy is a negotiated resolution. an international effort to
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degrade the capabilities of the assad regime to use weapons of mass destruction, to change the momentum on the battlefield, to change the momentum on the battlefield in order to encourage a negotiated a lyrical settlement to the civil war. i think that is worth restating. i would be grateful for this part of my colleagues. >> any other colleagues who wish to speak to this? senator murphy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think it goes without saying that this does fundamentally alter the nature of this authorization. it combines the authorizing
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resolution that we passed several months ago with the underlying legislation that we have been debating. it does so in a statement of policy that says for the first time that congress, but passage of this act, supports the president's efforts which have been reported in open sources over the past several months, arming with both lethal and nonlethal capabilities, the vetted elements of the syrian opposition. i would note that in that authorization that we passed several months ago which i did not support, we were very careful to attach to that resolution and authorization, some pretty carefully thought- out conditions and controls. that would go along with the president's new authority to arm the syrian rebels. by stating today that it is the
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policy of the united states government endorsed by the congress to do that, we drop all of that work that we have previously done. i know this is not the same thing as authorizing legislation but i do think that this is a fairly substantial change. i think it will take some people by surprise, particularly in the house of representatives as this goes forward. i appreciate the fact that many members of the committee have been calling upon the president to do this for every long time. this committee has spent an enormous amount of time talking about this issue of arming the
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vetted elements of the syrian opposition. it is not a debate that this full senate has had or that has been conducted in the full house. i would argue it may complicate discussion on this forward. >> senator corker. >> i just want to thank senator mccain for being such an advocate, for having a coordinated strategy. i don't think there is any committee that has spent more time trying to press that issue. i want to thank senator coons for trying to continually ensure that things that we do we do in a way that accomplishes an and. i thank them both for capturing >> i just want to thank senator a theme through the question that they and others asked this morning.
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i will say, i think the administration very much supports as secretary kerry said this morning, a further affirmation of these policies in an integrated way. i look forward to wholeheartedly supporting their amendment. >> any other colleague? i will be supportive of the amendment and i want to congratulate both of them for coming together and particularly senator mccain for his stalwart advocacy towards this and senator coons who has been an
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advocate of a broader serious strategy. the first amendment is part of a whereas clause. what it does is restate what this committee has already done in a vote of 15-3. in that respect, amendment number one is just a restatement of that fact which exist but it is an important fact. on amendment number two, it is a statement of policy but it is largely a statement of policy that the administration itself has verbalized and ultimately, in the statement of policy, it creates an understanding that this is our ultimate policy.
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but it does nothing in terms of as senator coons said to alter the scope of authorization in which that authorization unlike these. transition support act would have specific provisions. i think it is an important statement. it moves us to a broader syria strategy which i commend both senators for. something that has largely been accepted by and voted on by this committee. i would be supportive of both amendments. is there anyone else who wishes to speak on the amendment? if not, senator mccain? >> if it is agreeable to i would ask for a voice vote. >> the voice vote has been asked for. all those in favor will say aye. the ayes have it, both amendments are agreed to. is there anyone else who wishes to offer an amendment on the democratic side? senator cardin. >> i was going to offer an amendment with regards to the use of ground troops that make it clear that the authorization
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does not authorize the use of american soldiers in syria. the language here is clear. it does say that the restrictions include the limitation of use of the united states armed forces on the ground in syria for the purposes of combat operations. i was concerned about the language, combat operations. as a result of hearing the committee has held, i am confident that there is no soldier being asked to go into syria as a result of this authorization and i understand that will be made extremely clear in our committee report. does not authorize the use of american soldiers in syria. the language here is clear. there is always the unexpected i certainly understand that -- but our authorization was clear that there will be no ground troops in syria. i will not be offering the amendment. >> and you, senator cardin. i assure you that the committee report will have language that makes it clear that the language that is in the resolution is for its stated purpose. i would be happy to work with him to make sure that language is something that he finds
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supportive. is there any other member that wishes to make an amendment? senator coons. >> this amendment simply expands on the required elements for inclusion in the syria strategy reports. it amends section 5b and inserts additional provisions within the broader serious strategy report. it has a section regarding security coordination with allies and regional partners including israel, jordan and turkey. it has a section on planning for securing the existing chemical, biological and other weapons supplies in syria. last, it adds a section that the policy address efforts regarding the ongoing humanitarian
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challenges presented by 2 million syrian refugees in neighboring countries and 4.5 million internally displaced persons in syria. report that we anticipate from the administration as part of this authorization. i would hope for a voice vote. >> chair is supportive of the senator's amendment. it is a valuable addition to the resolution. any other members wish to speak to it? >> i thank him for a contribution. i plan to support it wholeheartedly. >> senator asked for a voice vote.
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all those in favor will say aye. all those opposed will say nay. the ayes have it. senator durbin. >> and amendment i have been working on that addresses a practical situation. under the proposal before us, the president if this is enacted into law, after submitting certification to congress has 60 days to exercise his authority under this proposal. he can extend that another 30 days with another certification to congress unless congress disapproves. hypothetical situation, if this became law and the president implemented it on september 15, then he would have until november 15 to use that period of time. the question is, what happens on the 91st day? what if assad decide then that he will use chemical weapons again? will we would turn to congress again to start the debate again? senator mccain and i have worked on the line which. i don't believe it is ready at this moment. it does leave open the possibility that we ought to consider. i wanted to raise that for the committee. i won't be offering the amendment. i asked senator mccain if you would like to make a comment. >> i think my colleague from illinois. there is a perception problem here that can be created that we need to avoid.
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that is that we will take this vigorous action until the 91st today and then bashar al-assad is able to resume his atrocities with chemical weapons. obviously, none of us believe that. none of us agree with it. we are kind of working to try to find a way to give everybody confidence that at any time if bashar al-assad uses chemical weapons again, that the united its of america will act. we don't have to go through -- we don't want to go through the authorization and debate on the floor etc. at the same time, the dilemma that we face is that we don't want to give an open-ended kind of authority to the president of the united states either. we would solicit the input of all members as to how we can address the perception created by this issue, but at the same time, reserve the legitimate role that the congress plays in determining these issues. i thank my friend from illinois and i hope that all my colleagues will continue to work together. by the time this legislation reaches the floor, perhaps we could have some kind of consensus on it. >> mr. chairman. >> senator durbin. >> i would like to offer durbin amendment number two. >> before you do that, if i may comment on the amendment that you withheld on.
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the chair appreciates the concerns that have been raised. i have prepared an amendment in this regard to bring us closer to ensuring that assad understands that he can't wait out the time. , go back to chemical weapons and go face no consequence or it we are getting closer and closer to a language that would find both the restraint and the opportunity, but i think it would be worthy of working collectively with everyone who has an interest in this as we move towards the floor. the chairman withheld his amendment as well and appreciates the comments of my colleagues as we try to work towards something that meets that challenge. senator durbin. >> mr. chairman, i have two amendments. one of these i raised earlier when we had an informal meeting. the use of the word, limited and tailored has stumped me from the start. i hope i am not nitpicking here. i don't think that this is the right word. i am told that even the president has used the word. i hope that we would instead say that we are dealing with authorizing the limited and specified use of the united states armed forces against
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syria. i have looked up the word tailored. there is no definition that comes close to what we are trying to do. i think the word specified makes it clear that what we are trying to achieve, we are limiting what the president can do and specifying what the president can do. that is my amendment number one. i can take a voice vote on this. >> is there anyone else who wishes to be heard on this amendment? the chair believes it achieves the goal we are trying to achieve. all in favor will say aye. the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed on. >> i think -- on behalf of the committee, there is one section that troubles me. it is on page four, paragraph one. keep in mind what we are doing here is spelling out the authority of the president of the united states to use military force for specified purposes. we are specific in paragraphs two and three, to deter syria's use of such weapons. to degrade syria's capacity to use such weapons in the future. the first paragraph troubles me. it is open-ended.
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instead of specificity about the purpose for the use of force, it says, respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction of the government of syria in the conflict in syria. that to me is as general and wide-open as you could write it. i think it really belies the rest of this effort and what we are trying to achieve. i am troubled by that reference to respond, which i think is
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open-ended. i am also concerned, this came up in closed session, with another element that was not included in the original white house draft. the original draft included the following, prevent or deter the use or proliferation, and this is the important language. including the transport to terrorist roots or other state and nonstate actors of chemical or biological weapons. following, prevent or deter the this is something we are genuinely concerned about. not just that assad might transfer the chemical weapons, but at that moment when he is out of power, that the transfer be taking place as well. what i have included in taking out the generalized respond paragraph, is the specific language that says the president is authorized to use military force to prevent he transferred to terrorist groups within syria of any weapons of mass destruction, etc. >> where would we -- is there
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any other member who wishes to be heard on this? >> mr. chairman. >> senator johnson. >> first of all, i appreciate genuinely concerned about. senator durbin's proposed amendment. this is similar to what i was trying to accomplish with my own amendment where i had a fourth point, to secure and prevent the transfer of chemical weapons stockpiles. i would like to ask senator durbin, i believe this encompasses about the same thing. i am very supportive because i believe one of the primary reasons if not the primary reason that the events in syria pose a national security threat to the unit is its is those chemical weapons stockpiles and those possibly being transferred to enemies of the united dates. i would like to work with you and be assured that this does the exact same thing that i was
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trying to do with my amendment. >> i think we are on the same track. the testimony we heard in this room was that the french have analyzed the situation and believe that assad has 1000 tons of chemical agents and weapons including several hundred tons of sarin. he may be in the chemical weapons world, a superpower. we don't want him to use those within his own country but we also don't want him to put those on the block or transfer them to enemies of the united states. i think we are on the same track. >> let me also say, my amendment may be goes further. in section three, where we limit the authorization and use -- basically boots on the ground for the purpose of combat operations, i do accept as required under my authorization.
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the authorization and use -- basically, recognizing that if the president has to secure those weapons, that that would require ground troops. >> i think you are into a new territory there. >> possibly, but i think your language implies the same thing. >> let me turn to senator corker. >> first of all i want to thank both of you for bringing this issue up. i wonder if we might resolve the concern that each of you have by, under section two, paragraph a, article one, where it says respond, if we can insert, respond in a limited manner. and then, use language that senator durbin has drafted as the fourth section of this, the fourth article down at the bottom. leave out the part including chemical, biological weapons or components used in such weapons, so that you have a fourth portion that says, prevent the transfer to terrorist groups or other actors within syria of any weapons of mass destruction, so we hit the point that the two of
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you are trying to address and we are limiting the response that senator durbin is concerned, maybe too broad. >> i asked the senator from tennessee what he envisions by that phrase, respond in a limited manner? >> what i envision is that we would respond in a limited manner. i don't know if i can clarify. i know that you're trying to tighten and i appreciate that very much. a big portion of our time has been to make this specified. i do think, on the other hand, the essence of what we are doing here is in response to what is happening with weapons of mass destruction. i guess i am trying to address both needs here. >> the only thing i would say to the senator from tennessee is, everything i have imagined in my mind that we do with military force could not be characterized as limited. it is going to be a powerful response by our country to what we view as a danger to the people of syria, to the world. i don't want to get lost in the
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language here. i think this is a friendly amendment you are offering, but respond in a limited manner, it still leaves me uncertain as to what we are trying to say. >> if i may, senator durbin, what is the preface here is the president is authorized subject to this subsection to use the armed forces of the united states as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and specified manner against legitimate military targets in syria only to respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the government of syria. what is it, i am trying to grasp, what is it about the language there that is troublesome to you? >> compare the other two paragraphs, two and three. deter the use of weapons of mass
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grasp, what is it about the destruction. it is linked to the use of weapons of mass destruction. respond, i think is so generic and so general that it can include any military action which would be a response, but it is not a response limited to the future use of this weapons. weapons of mass destruction.
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>> what if that first paragraph were to read, only to deter and degrade the use of weapons of mass destruction by the government of syria? >> that would be repetitive but it wouldn't be inconsistent. >> if you could accept that. >> i can accept that if we can add the fourth paragraph that senator corker has talked about and senator johnson and i discussed, the prevention of
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transport of these weapons to terrorist groups. >> do you need the entire phrase stated, or is it good enough to prevent the transfer to terrorist groups -- >> i think that is sufficient. the language i have goes on to explain that but you use weapons of mass destruction. yours is sufficient. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> we are also working with our allies and our partners, key partners including france, turkey, saudi arabia, the united arab emirates, and other friends in the region. defining our military objectives, we have made clear we are not seeking to resolve the underlying conflict in syria through direct military force. instead we are contemplating actions that are tailored to respond to the use of chemical weapons. a political solution created by the syrian people is the only way to ultimately end of the violence in syria. secretary kerry is leading international efforts to help the parties in syria move forward to a negotiated transition. we are also committed to doing
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more to assist the syrian opposition, but assad must be held accountable for using these weapons in defiance of the international community. having defined america's interests and military objectives, we also must examine the risks. there are risks of taking action. there are also risks of inaction. if the assad regime and feel empowered to carry out even more devastating chemical weapons attacks, chemical weapons make no distinction between combatants and innocent civilians and inflict the worst kind of indiscriminate suffering, as we have recently seen. a refusal to act would undermine the credibility of america's other security commitments including the present's commitment to prevent iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
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the word of the united states must mean something. it is vital currency and foreign relations and international and allied commitments. every witness here today at this table -- secretary kerry, general dempsey, and myself -- has served in uniform, fought in war, and seen its ugly realities close. we understand a country faces few decisions as grave as using military force. we are not unaware of the cost of war. but we also understand that america must protect its people and its national interest. that is our highest responsibility. only those of us who have the privilege and responsibility of serving this great nation oh our people and those wearing the uniform of our country a great debate.
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i know everyone on this committee agrees and take the responsibility of office just as seriously as the president and everyone at this table. mr. chairman, thank you. >> mr. secretary, thank you. we also appreciate general dempsey being here today to answer the committee questions. if i could go to you, secretary kerry, a question i referenced in my opening statement. other countries are watching. as i understand it, the administration and you have been in contact with the governments in discussion with south korea, turkey, saudi arabia, israel. i have read several others in the press. i was going to ask you, the
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communications that you are having -- what are those communicating to you about this incident, when you talk to these governments? >> mr. chairman, i'm very happy to share that with you. let me just say at the outset, i mentioned an e-mail i got coming in. the same news outlet, reuters, has now said the syrian government is saying the defection has not taken place. who knows if it has or it hasn't? what i do know is this. the intelligence is very clear. in other settings, i urge you to go and look at it. there are currently defections taking place. i think there are something like 60 to 100 in the last day or so. officers and enlisted personnel. and there are serious questions
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taking place among the so-called elite of syria about whether or not bashar al-assad has taken things too far. there are serious westerns. -- questions. i put that on the table for you to think about. >> i understand, but -- >> we have reached out to over 100 countries. we continue to reach out to these countries. 53 countries have acknowledged that chemical weapons are used. 37 have said so publicly. that number will grow as the evidence we released yesterday becomes more troubling. i will be meeting with the foreign ministers of europe, 28 foreign ministers, on saturday. this will clearly be a topic of discussion.
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many of them have had reservations, waiting for the evidence. i see many more countries joining. 31 countries, or organizations, have stated publicly or privately that the assad regime is responsible for this attack, and that was before our evidence package was put together. 34 countries or organizations have indicated that if the allegations prove to be true -- they would support some sort of action against syria appeared to be specific and bear down on the president's proposal and this particular action, currently in the region there are a number of countries, friends of ours, that have offered to be part of this operation. and those countries can speak for themselves. but there are more countries
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that have offered to be part of this operation that our military currently believes we need to have part of it, in order to affect the operation. there is interest in having a multinational effort and i think the president is committed to doing so. but there are friends of ours, including france as you know, which is sticking with its position, and others in the region who are prepared to be part of this operation with us. >> let me ask you this. one of the first reactions i've gotten from the members here is on the open-ended nature of that authorization. on the senate side, as you know, there is now discussion. there is no support of the boots on the ground on the house side, but there is no reference to its in the authorization. now they are talking about a comprehensive syrian strategy and resolutions here on the
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house side are coming at this from a different direction than the original authorization. i would like your views. can you express your response to the resolutions you now see on the senate side and here on the house side, on rewriting the original authorization? >> i have made a point of importance not to discuss my personal views. that is for you to determine. i will tell you that militarily, the broader the resolution, the more options i can provide. but that said, i will also assure you that the president has given me quite clear guidance that this will be a limited and focused operation, not open-ended. >> i will maybe go to secretary hagel for a few comments on this, if you could sum up, but
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again, it is clear there is no support on the house side for boots on the ground -- boots on the ground. the rewriting of the authorization, your response? >> i have seen one draft. i have not seen anything in the last few hours. i know that all of our agencies represented at this table as well as the national security council are working with the appropriate people. i have confidence that we will be able to come up with a mutually agreed upon resolution to accomplish the objective. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary kerry and secretary hagel, the -- maybe you can comment to this. i believe the that american credibility on the international
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stage hangs in the balance, and while it is crucial to make sure that assad never uses chemical weapons again, i believe there's something bigger at stake, that is, the message to iran as they continue to pursue a nuclear capability. they're watching how we respond to the assad regime's crossing of the president fuzzy red line, and the world is also aware that president obama is -- the president's red line, and the world is also aware that president obama is seeking to stop weapons of mass destruction. how do you think the calculus on the nuclear program will change based on what we do now? >> congressman, there's an enormous amount of question in
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the region, not just by iranians, but by emer rodis, sort -- the saudis, the kuwaitis, as to whether the u.s. means what it says. and they ask me all the time, are you guys serious about iran? i'm sure when they come and visit with you, they look to you for reassurances with respect to america's position on iran. there is no question on -- in my mind that the president of the united states does not bluff, and he is committed that iran will not have nuclear weapons. but if we fail to enforce a standard that has been in existence for almost 100 years regarding to either -- regarding weapons of mass destruction, we are putting that into question in the minds of allow observers servers -- in the minds of a lot of observers and creating problems for ourselves. we may get closer to a test that
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may not be constrained or managed as a consequence of our actions today. i believe it is critical -- two things i would say without any question in my mind. if we fail to pass this, those who are working with us today with the syrian opposition, we have been working hard to keep them from funding bad elements, whether it is a misrata or others, which they have funded out of frustration because they think they are the best fighters and the only people that are going to get the job done. if we back off and failed to enforce our word here, i promise you the discipline that we have put in place with respect to the moderate opposition vs. bad guys will dissipate immediately the it and people will resort to
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anybody they can find to help them accomplish their goal. and we will have created more extremism and a greater problem down the road. the word will be misinterpreted in many ways, not just iran. >> thank you. perhaps secretary hagel could answer this. secretary kerry just mentioned the opposition. i put in the bill several months ago that would allow us to aid the well vetted syrian opposition. i do not think the potential use of military force we are considering can be looked on in a vacuum. this opposition -- operation must be like as one piece of a comprehensive set rg. -- comprehensive strategy. as the downgrade syria's use of chemical weapons, will we be in turn downgrading iran? and will be -- will we be downgrading aside's ability to
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murder his own people? >> -- assad's ability to murder his own people? >> you are correct, this one option that we are debating today, it works in parallel with a number of other tracks that are ongoing. i think most all of us believe the president believes -- and everyone at this table believes there is no military solution in syria. it will require a political resolution. in that regard, the actions that we take will be in parallel with the opposition, the strengthening of the buhp -- the opposition. it would be parallel to what secretary kerry noted, the
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continuing defections from izod's -- assad's military. it would be with the international community continuing to strengthen their voices and joining us with this condemnation. all of the other consequences that come from this would be part of this. that is the way i would answer your question. >> we will go now to the chairman emeritus of this committee in florida. >> thank you. welcome, gentlemen. we have been aware of assad's chemical stockpile for years, but we have failed to hold him accountable. the united nations has been completely useless at affecting any change in syria, thanks in no small part to russia and china's persistent stonewalling of the security council. and congress has certainly had our fair share of missed opportunities.
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last congress, the house passed the iran-north 3 add--- iran, north korea, syria action. but no action was taken on it. had the united states taken on a more pro-active role in syria by instituting strict sanctions against a saudi bank's regime, it may have changed his calculations -- against assad's regime, it may have changed his calculations on using chemical weapons. the president must clearly identify what our national security interests are to keep from further escalating the system -- that situation. what does target airstrikes look like? what does degradation look like? and what will we do if it does not yield the intended result? one senate resolution ground troops for combat operations.
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this sounds like it leaves the open possibility of butz on the ground for other things like a special operations. is this intentional? will you confirm that under no circumstances will we place butz on the ground in syria? even a limited engagement, if it ends up being the only limited, could cost taxpayers billions with the members of the arab league so eager for the u.s. participation, have they offered to offset any of the costs associated with this action? iran and north korea are carefully watching our next move. if we say that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, yet we fail to act, we will either emboldened iran's pursuit of chemical breakout possibilities. the failure to act will be seen as a green light by the iranian
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regime, who will see that we do not have the will to back up our words. what about boots on the ground, the arab league, will they tonia pony up? and there's a rumor circulating today that perhaps the house will not have a vote on authorization. the senate will and not on the outside. if you could comment on that. >> i do not know anything about this for mark nusoor will not comment on it, because it is a rumor and it's the first-ever of it. with respect to either -- the first i have heard of it. with respect to arab countries and their offer to help with the cross, yes, they have appeared that offer is on the table. with respect to boots on the
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ground, no. there will be no butz on the ground. -- boots on the ground. the president has said that again and again. we reiterate, i know boots on the ground -- no boots on the ground. we have absolute confidence that what our military undertakes to do, if it is ordered to do so, will degrade the capacity of assad to use these weapons and serve as a very strong deterrence. and if it doesn't, then there are subsequent possibilities as to how you could enforce that. >> thank you. the details of the offer and the proposal on the table, what are the figures we are talking about? >> we do not know what action we are engaged in right now, but has been quite significant
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finding, very significant -- quite significant. i mean, very significant. some have said that the u.s. has been prepared to go do what we have done in previous places. obviously, that is not in the cards and nobody is talking about it, but they are talking about taking seriously getting this job done. >> my time is over? >> we better go to mr. meeks of new york in order to get through the full panel. >> mr. sherman of california than. >> the president drew a red line. presidents often draw red lines in order to deter action. usually, they deter that action to our benefit and at no cost.
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when the president drew that red line for i'm not aware of anyone in this room who criticized it or disassociate themselves from that red line. now assad has crossed that red line. it is america's red line. if we do not act, he will use chemical weapons many times in the future. they may be decisively successful for him. and dictators for decades to come will learn from assad's letson. chemical weapons use on civilians in and mass scale the is effective. in picking targets, gentlemen, you will be torn between the germaine and the effective. germasne would be directly related to chemical weapons. but we want assad to keep control of his chemical weapons.
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you'll be seeking out targets related to the storage or delivery or control of chemical weapons. instead, i think you should focus on punishing and deterring assad by having a valuable asset that will demonstrate to him that it was a military mistake to use chemical weapons. even air or naval assets unrelated to the delivery of chemical weapons will make that lesson clear to him. we have all learned a searing lesson from over 4000 casualties in iraq. but we should also know there are 150 occasions -- and i would like to put in the record acrs listing an analysis of 150 occasions in the last 40 years where america has deployed its military into dangerous or hostile situations. in most cases, limited purpose, limited deployment, and the cost
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was so limited we forgot the incident involved. i hope that what you are planning is something much more along those lines than iraq. the resolution sent to us on august 31 is obviously flawed. i sent secretary kerry amendments on the first. i would like to explore with you what elements a good resolution would have, knowing that this resolution adds to the authority you already have under the war powers resolution of 1973. is it acceptable for this resolution to confirm what you have already said? that is, the resolution itself does not add in any way to the powers of the president to put
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boots on the ground in syria? is that an acceptable resolution? secretary kerry? >> absolutely. >> would a time limit of 60 days indicating you might have other authorities to act beyond those 60 days, what we are authorizing now is limited to 60 days. is that acceptable? >> we would prefer that you have some kind of trigger in there with respect to his -- if he were to come back and use chemical weapons again, there would be the capacity to respond to that. >> you could always come back to congress. or you could have a provision every time he uses chemical weapons to get another 60 days. >> that would be acceptable. >> the first or the second? >> the second. >> and finally, would you accept a provision that says you may want to consider a regime change, including army the result -- the rebels under the authority that you have, but that this resolution is limited
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to to the punishing and deterring of the use of chemical weapons and not to change the outcome of the civil war? >> the pair -- the president has a narrow authorization so that no one gets confused about being offered a vote on two different things. one is with respect to the use of chemical weapons and to make our word respective to the region. >> the montero it -- the more narrowly tailored it is, the more careful you are. finally, for the record, a few could explain -- >> we will introduce the questions for the record afterwards.
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but we need to go now to mr. smith. >> the "new york times" editorial today -- yesterday said it was "alarming that president obama did not long ago put into place with our allies and partners a plan for international action." very alarming that we have failed to do in the last several years what ought to have been done. that is a "the new york times" editorial, hardly a conservative newspaper. i have three questions. i would ask that you best of your ability answer 03. -- answer all three. president obama said yesterday that he wants to make president assad regret using chemical weapons. the first question, do we have
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clear proof that assad himself ordered it? the second question has to do with chris wallace on sunday. you said the variance in the planes were in the air on coste row, those -- there was a -- the very second the planes were in the air on coste row, there was a vote in the house. your word, very instant, is certainly an elastic term. it was a full month later. the bombing of serbia began on march 24 and the house voted against it on april 28. during that time, there were significant assurances that the entire operation would be a short duration, very limited. and i know many people had thought, including in brussels at nato headquarters, that it would last just a few days. it lasted 78 days. 488 in-527 civilian deaths
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occurred from the bombing. and significantly, the milosevich retaliation killed about 10,000 people and put most albanians to flight. how do you define ltd. and short duration? and what might assad do in retaliation in attacking other areas that we might not have anticipated? and finally, i plan to introduce a resolution to authorize the president to establish a specialized court, he syrian war crimes tribunal to help hold accountable all those on either side, including assad, who have slaughtered and raped in syria. i wonder what you might think about that as well, whether or not the administration would support such a court. we have learned things from the special court in sierra leone. and certainly, we have learned from the court in yugoslavia. it has to be immediate and i think it could be a rallying
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place. you yourself as the the -- have said that we should send them to jail. let's send in jail. -- of them to jail. i think there are other alternatives. >> congressman, i actually did not have time yesterday because of our testimony to read the "the new york times" editorial. i would like to read it. but there is a plan in place. the london 11 so-called have been working internationally. last year, secretary clinton joined in the, in can meeting with the russians and others to set up a process for transition in syria. that is what we are currently pursuing now. together with our allies and
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friends in this endeavor. that includes france, great britain, italy, germany, the emirates, saudis, and others. it may not be working as well as we would like and has not had its impact yet fully, but in addition to that, we have seen the president take steps in response to the initial attacks of chemical weapons to increase lethal aid to the opposition. that is now known. >> i'm almost out of time. with all due respect, ltd. damache corp., a special tribunal on war crimes for syria. -- limited, a short duration, a special tribunal on war crimes for syria. >> perhaps we could have more luck with that, a special court.
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i would certainly welcome holding people county -- accountable for those kinds of abuses. >> mr. meeks of new york. >> i would like to submit my statement for the record. >> without objection. >> i agree with the president's decision to come to congress for the authorization for the use of military force to address chemical weapons use by syrian forces. i think it was the right decision, both constitutionally and morally. in making my decision on the use of force, i try to look at it from both short and long term interest for the security of america. to that end, i believe the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime is a flagrant violation of international norms against
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such use of weapons and it is against u.s. interests. but it is not only against u.s. interests, but also against international interests. if we act in a unilateral way, i have huge concerns. there's a violation and we just and we react, especially militarily, in a multilateral way. i don't know where nato is, but i've heard medeiros say they have condemned it. i don't hear them saying they will step up with us militarily. i have not heard the arab union, the arab league step up with us. i have heard people condemn. and you have said the world is watching what we are doing. but i have yet to hear concrete
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things of what the world is doing. i am fearful they will isolate the united states if we are only doing something unilaterally while the world sits back and watches. when there is an international violation that took place. you say that it matters today that we are working as an international community to rid the world of its worst weapons. and i could not agree with you more. but i do not see and hear where the world is stepping up and agreeing to act with us militarily, not just condemning the actions. but acting on that condemnation of the actions with as in the military fashion. -- with us in the military fashion. russia has obstructed efforts to investigate the use of chemical events.
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would you elaborate on what, if any, role russia has in bringing about a political solution in syria? and how has that been engaged, given the administration's attitude that there is no military solution? one of my concerns of the possibility of unintended consequences, including the prospect of prolonged military engagement. in august, you sent a letter saying there were actions that could be taken short of a military presence that could alter their behavior. you also said that it could escalate and commit as decisively to the conflict. could you elaborate on what you meant when you said that we
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could decisively be date -- committed to the conflict? how do you minimize the possibility of prolonged commitment? and if international support is as limited as it appears to be now, how would you keep this from being more pronounced? >> i want to take george for the record, i predict. in the time remaining, i believe it is the focus and the purpose of the military action that will give us the best chance of limiting it in time and commitment. in other words, my letter to the representative talked about answering the question of what it would take to tip the scales in favor of the opposition. if we were to take military action ourselves to support the opposition, that is a very long prospect.
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what we're talking about here is not that. the purpose is to determine the grade for the specific purpose of chemical weapons. our intent is to limit it. that is not to say that i can discount the escalation. i can never discount that, but we will litigate it as much as possible -- mitigate it as much as possible. >> welcome, gentlemen. i know you would all like to tell -- like me to tell you that a number of people came up to me in the airport this morning and urged me to stand with president obama on this issue, or that my phones have been ringing off of with callers supporting the administration's position, but i think we all know that would not be accurate. nevertheless, trying to approach your potential resolution with an open mind and will consider any argument the administration
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might make for the use of force against the assad regime. i have some serious concerns. and many of my colleagues on this committee probably share a number of them. before we support a resolution on the use of force or not, it will depend on how these concerns are addressed in the coming days by the administration. this is part of that process. secretary kerry, president obama did not come to congress seeking a resolution on the use of force in libya. what is the difference between a in libya and syria when it comes to seeking congressional authorization? >> the difference is that in the case of libya, you had already passed a u.n. security council resolution and an arab league resolution, and a gulf states corp. resolution -- cooperation resolution. and you had a man who you knew
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was prone to follow through on his word, promising that he would kill like dogs all of the people in benghazi. there was an urgency to respond. the united states provided air support, while the french and british carry out the mission. under those circumstances, the president felt the urgency, the emergency to protect life, and and a capacity that had already been granted. that is where he's coming to congress. >> had the british prime look -- had the british parliament not rejected prime minister cameron,
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would he have bothered to come to congress? >> i believe he would have. there were discussions, to some degree, about whether or not it should happen. he had not made of his mind. he did not announce it to us. but my personal belief is, yes. and there are people making that argument on his legal team. >> you indicated that you have not had time to read the "the new york times" editorial, so i'm assuming that you have not had time to read tom friedman's column. >> actually, i've read it today. >> i do not always agree with him, in fact i seldom do, but i tend to agree with his assessment of the syrian
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situation today where he says that rather than firing missiles, a better solution is to our more moderate groups in syria. -- is to arm more moderate groups in syria. my only concern is that it may be too late. failing to arm these groups months, or even years ago has allowed al qaeda to become more powerful. would you comment? >> i am delighted to. on what tom friedman said, and i often do agree with him, but i do not on this particular occasion. he said you should arm and shame.
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i do not think assad is going to be changed in this particular situation. and there is our main taking place. but if you simply arm and state that your policy is too ashamed, and to back off, deteriorating his capacity to deliver chemical weapons and say, ok, that does not matter to us, you have opened a pandora's box for the use of chemical weapons. and all those people that you are moby victims of a chemical weapons attack. -- and all those people that you arm will be victims of a chemical weapons attack. it is important that we send a message and deteriorate his capacity. and we would have given him in shooting with respect to any future use. >> -- impunity with respect to any future use.
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>> what made the president change his mind and consult with congress? >> you have to ask him. ardono completely. >> i assume you discussed it. >> we did discuss it, and the president said very strongly that it was important for us to be in our strongest posture, that the united states needed to speak with one voice. you all ask for consultations. the president began a caught -- a process of consultation. we hear from many of you, and you said that it was very important to come to congress. i know that mike rogers in one
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particular conversation talked- about -- talked about the need to not have a display. you're fighting with congress, fighting with your allies, fighting with the u.n., and try to unify it if you can. i think that was great advice. the president tried to put america in the strongest position possible. >> mr. secretary, one of the things i read today that disturbs me a great deal was by the end of the year, we are going to have about 3 million refugees from the syrian
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conflict. i am concerned of the impact striking syria would have on increasing the number of refugees. and i'm concerned about how the it is going to destabilize our friends in the region. jordan is already experiencing it, turkey also. are we creating policies to alleviate what is coming, this avalanche of refugees? by the end of the year, they expect 3 million refugees. that could be a big destabilizing factor in that region. >> this brings you squarely into a confrontation with this question that is fundamental to the treaty will make. there are risks of acting. but believe me, it is our judgment collectively, and the president's, that the greater risks are not acting. you have 1.6 million to 2 million refugees a day without our acting. -- today without are acting.
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and every indication is that it is going to get worse. if we do not act and assad is able to rein gas down on his people, watch the number of refugees. the greatest capacity of refugees building in the region the greatest way to affect his capacity to create refugees in the region is to act and get a stable and of syria were you can have a transition government. that is the goal. and we have no chance of getting there if we back off and give him a message of impunity. we will have said, nobody cares, gas your people, you do what you need to to stay in office, and we are backing off. that would be one of those moments in history that would live in infamy. and there are some of those moments. munich, a ship off the coast of florida that was sent back and filled with used and they lost their lives to gas because we did not receive them. there are moments you have to make a decision, and i believe this is one of those moments. >> are we making any new policy? i know we already contribute
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more money than anybody else to assist the refugees. >> the world needs to step up on this refugee issue. the united states is probably providing more than anyone else, but it is unsustainable. there are other discussions taking place as to how we might respond to this ongoing crisis in non-military terms, but i think there are options available to us. but we do not want to get ahead of ourselves. >> this military action, i assume we are coordinating with our friends in the region. >> we are, congressman.
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>> and do you and is afraid they will go along with us -- do you anticipate they will go along with us if it increases, the need for them to participate? >> there with us, some with basing in some with overflight. >> mr. joe wilson of south carolina. thank you for your longtime leadership to avoid a crisis that we face today.
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thank you for being here today. i can speak for general dempsey and all of our military leaders that there is no higher purpose that we all have, nor more significant responsibility than the protection of the men and women who served in uniform. they are our hires -- highest priority. as your questions, the president stated again yesterday in a meeting in the cabinet room with leaders of congress, and i think congressman engel was there, as was chairman royce. -- as was chairman royce, this would not be a pinprick. this would be a significant strike that would, in fact, the bradys capability. the three of us have noted, -- that would, in fact, degrade his capability. the three of us have noted that any action carries with it risk, and the action carries with it consequence. but also does inaction.
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i can assure u.s. secretary of defense, that the department of defense, our leaders, have spent days and days going over every contingency, every option, everything you have talked about and more -- security of our forces, our embassy, conflict -- embassies, consulates, the president insisted on seeing those plans. collateral damage, innocent people being hurt. we think the options that we have given him, first, would be effective, and the would carry out -- >> the time is flying. where did the chemical weapons come from? >> it is no secret that the assad regime has had the significant stockpiles of chemical weapons. >> from a particular country?
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>> the russians supply them and others supply them -- >> the russians supply them and other countries supply them. they make some themselves. >> on april 25, the white house legislative director wrote that our intelligence community does assist -- ss that the syrian regime has used chemical weapons. with the president's redlined about why was there no call for military response in april? was it delayed to divert attention today from the benghazi incident, the failure of obamacare enforcement, or the failure of the debt limit vote? why was there no call for a military response four months ago when the president's red line was crossed? >> the reason is very simple. the president made a decision to change his policy, but he did not believe the evidence was so overwhelming.
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it was significant, and cleared was happening, but on a scale that he felt merritt said the increase of assistance and the announcements that he made with respect to the type of aid to the opposition. he did respond. this was so egregious, and now builds on the conclusions of our intel community as to the numbers of times, but such a clear case, so compelling and urgent with respect to the fragrancy of the abuse that the president thinks as a matter of conscience and a matter of policy, the best route is to proceed through military action. >> but in april, it was very clear. chemical weapons are chemical weapons. >> but the president did not believe it was a compelling enough case to win the support of the american people, as well as the world. this is, and the president did respond.
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he upgraded what we were doing so vividly. he came to congress. we had to struggle to get congress to agree to do what he wanted to do to agree that effort. >> your time has expired. we need to go to mr. gerry connolly of virginia. >> thank you. mr. chairman, late last night we delivered to all members of congress, and i physically delivered a copy today of an alternative resolution very narrowly drawn that actually codifies what the president has said he wishes to accomplish, and codifies no boots on the ground to try to make sure that we stay focused on the issue and one response to that issue, and possibly provide the white house to a path for authorization.
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it hot -- i urge you to look at it, and hopefully we will be able to market up. i looked at this issue and recommended it to my colleagues if they find it helpful. the first was, if the evidence strongly compelling and if not, incontrovertible? second, if so, what action is warranted? thirdly, what is the efficacy of the proposed action and what are the risks? fourth, what is the efficacy and were on the risks of doing nothing? and finally, if the latter always the former, how can congress provided authorization that is narrowly drawn to ensure no further involvement, but does two things -- enforces international law with respect to the ban on chemical weapons and deter future use of such weapons?
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all of this is a matter of judgment. everything i've heard from both sides of the eyal this week has been sincere and heartfelt -- both sides of the aisle this week has been sincere and heartfelt. it is a difficult issue. i have come to the conclusion myself that the evidence is convincing and compelling. i also believe that the overhang of iraq as many of us changed. -- has many of us chained. iraq was faulty information to justify a wrong priority. we are not dealing with a president who is hungering to
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invade another country or. boots on the ground. -- or to put boots on the ground. in fact, he has shown his reluctance to do so. there is no doubt the weapons exist, the stockpiles are there, and there is no doubt he used them. the question for us is what we do about it. mr. secretary, let me ask one question. if we do nothing -- and secretary hagel i act -- i invite you to answer as well, keeping in mind limited time. what is your judgment that's assad will use chemical weapons as a routine weapon to turn the stock -- turn the tide of this war? >> i think the likelihood is very high that he would use them again. >> mr. secretary?
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>> i agree completely. i might even put it at 100%. you should check the intel on it. i think he will be convinced. >> if you are right that it is 100%, that we will see these weapons used to turn the tide of the war, what is the probability that these will also get into the hands of hezbollah and other elements supporting the regime, and perhaps best proliferate the region for friend and foe alike? >> i cannot give you that probability. i just do not know what it is. i can tell you there are three principal supporters of assad and the rest of the world that are in horror of what is
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happening. those are iran, hezbollah, and russia. if iran and hezbollah are allowed to both see him stay in power, as well as to do so with the use of chemical weapons, that is extraordinarily dangerous for jordan, israel, lebanon, and our interests. >> we need to go to the chairman of the homeland security committee. mr. michael mccall from texas. >> thank you for being here. next week, we commemorate the 12th anniversary of 9/11. as out -- it was al qaeda that hit the world trade center and the pentagon down the street from here. al qaeda is the enemy and before 9/11, al qaeda was the enemy. as chairman of the homeland security committee, i want to make sure that never happens again.
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i know you share that as well. it gives congress and the american people great pause because there is no good outcome here. there is no good side. assad is the actor who used chemical weapons, no question. but who were the rebel forces? who are they? i ask that in my greetings all the time. -- in my briefings all the time. and everytime i get briefed on this it gets worse and worse. the majority now are radical islamists pouring in from all over the world. they come to syria for the fight. and my concern is that any strike against this regime, as bad as it is, will empower these radical extremists. and we have seen this before. we have seen it in afghanistan. we saw what happened in egypt, in libya, and what the arab spring has brought us.
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they have filled the vacuum. who will fill the vacuum when the assad regime falls, which we know it will. who will fill that vacuum? are the extremists going to take over not only the government, but these weapons? they're the ones most likely to use these weapons against americans and the united states. and while those images of children in damascus are horrific, i do not want to see those images in the united states. that is my grave concern. this is a very dangerous step that we are taking and we have to be very careful on how we proceed. with all due respect, i think this is well-intentioned. but i have these concerns. i want to hear from you as to whether you share these concerns and what you're doing to stop
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that outcome, because that is the worst outcome that could happen. >> congressman, i apologize for interrupting. i think it would be helpful to you -- as you were asking the question. because i'm very concerned about the foundation of your question, the premise of it. a woman by the name of elizabeth bagley, she works for the institute of war. she is fluent in arabic and has spent an enormous amount of time studying the opposition, a city in syria. she just published a very interesting article which i commend to you. sitting behind me is ambassador robert ford. he has spent time in syria. the has been done enormous amount of time working with them and helping to understand is dynamic. i just do not agree that the


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