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tv   MSNBC Live  MSNBC  September 1, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> appreciate it very much. that is all for today. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press. good afternoon. you're watching msnbc. today new revelations about the deadly chemical weapons attack in syria. >> hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of sarin. so this case is building and this case will build. >> will the white house build a strong enough case to swing congress in favor of military action in syria? the voices on capitol hill are mixed. >> this is a national security issue. this isn't about barack obama versus the congress. >> there's weakness on the part of the president. >> this is a clear failure of leadership. >> it's a mistake to get involved in the syrian civil war. >> i would pull out my voting card and vote no. >> i would vote yes because the
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whole world is watching and so is iran. >> it's not enough to call a press conference at the rose garden and run off to a golf match and dump in the lap of congress. >> we talk to one congressman who got a classified briefing on capitol hill. the reaction from the syrian government is -- >> allegations made by obama and his foreign secretary are incorrect and absolutely a big lie. >> president obama has a lot of work to do before congress votes on a strike against syria. this morning secretary of state john kerry continued to make the administration's case. >> let me just add this morning an important recent development that in the last 24 hours we learned through samples that were provided to the united states that have now been tested from first responders in east damascus and hair samples and blood samples testing positive
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for signatures of sarin. >> nbc's kasie hunt is on capitol hill and kristen welker is watching developments from the white house. kristen, let's start with you. we just heard from senator john mccain that he will meet with president obama tomorrow. let's listen. >> i am happy to say i have good lines of communication with the president and i'm confident that he wouldn't have asked me over to the white house if he didn't want my thoughts. >> so how badly does president obama need john mccain's support in making a case for strikes against syria? >> i think mccain's support is important. he's one of the more hawkish members of congress. mccain, lindsey graham, arguing to oust assad so to get some of the more hawkish members of the republican party onboard with a limited strike will be important. also if the president can run up the vote in the senate and get a nice robust vote there, that would put more pressure on the
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house to pass this measure. you will continue to see outreach to all members of congress. behind the scenes the president, secretary of state, vice president, will be working the phones. there will be a flurry of activity between the white house and hill in the coming days this is a credibility issue for president obama. it's a big political gamble if congress votes no, the question becomes what happens next? the white house has indicated that they believe president obama would still have the legal authority to move forward with a strike but politically it would be very difficult to make that argument if he got a no vote from congress. the white house has a lot riding on getting this passed. >> kristen welker at the white house. thank you so much. let's go to capitol hill now and nbc's kasie hunt. is there consensus or division among members of congress about voting for strikes against syria? >> reporter: at this point members are all over the place. they're just beginning the process of trying to figure out
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where they are going to come down. we've seen early indications of opposition for a variety of reasons. you talked about senator john mccain and he and lindsey graham were concerned that this limited strikes wouldn't go far enough. i was talking to some house democrats as they went into a classified briefing on the hill just a few minutes ago and one of them was saying in order to nail down his vote and something he was hearing from other members of his caucus is the president would have to make the case that this strike would in fact be limited and stay limited. what he said to me was iraq colors everything. so all of these members here are worried about what kind of decision they're making in casting a yes vote to support this strike. >> to the left side of the screen right now we're monitoring what is a stakeout camera where members of camera will be coming out after being briefed by the administration. how many members have shown up? >> reporter: we were somewhat surprised. i was talking to some aides who expected a light turnout.
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we saw 60, 70 possibly more members. we should get a more concrete count at some point down the line. only 30 rsvps originally but considering where action has gone, it seems more members were interested in coming. we saw members coming from as far as washington state and california to be at this briefing. >> casey anthony on capitol hill. thank you so much. let's get to our sunday brain trust. perry bacon, jr., is an msnbc contributor and political editor. nbc's military retired colonel jack jacobs. thank you for being here. the administration was aggressively pushing his agenda today saying he expects congress will back the president. georgia senator, the top republican on the senate intelligence committee, told cbs the president has a hard sell in front of him. let's listen. >> the president has an obligation to make his case to
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the congress but he also has an obligation to make this case to the american people. my constituents are war weary. they don't want to see us get involved in this. >> do you think secretary kerry is painting an overly optimistic picture of congressional support? >> i don't think so. i think he's being straight. it's the duty of the president to go to congress because this is not something the congress can punt on. we're talking about really an act of war. america is not threatened. offensive measure by our country. secondly, clearly in the constitution, article 1, section 8, gives the authority to congress to declare war. when we send tomahawk missiles into a country that's not threatening us, that's an act of war whether we like it or not. it's incumbent on congress to have a say on this. not just to be consulted but to give authorization. >> perry, to you. the president spiurprised a lotf
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people when he brought congress into this. >> while i believe i have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, i know that the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be even more effective. >> the president has used military force before without seeking approval from congress. so why now? what do you think is different about this crisis? >> there are two things. you remember what happened in 2011 when he intervened in libya without congress. there was a lot of blowback from members of congress about that. republicans and democrats felt like he violated the constitution and law by doing that. you have seen already this week about 120 republicans and 50 democrats wrote a letter to the president this week, two separate letters, laying out their argument why the president should go to congress. that's about 100 different members. that means a third of the house wanted to hear more from the president and have the president
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go to congress. that's one reason. the second reason is what happened in britain showed there's a lot of weariness about this intervention and if obama has congress onboard, this goes from being obama's intervention in syria to being the american intervention in syria. he gets stronger support because he has congress behind him if both houses pass this. there's a logical decision here. >> jack, to you. u.s. forces are primed for action in syria. the navy has five guided missile destroyers and missile launching submarine in the mediterranean. along with other assets in that region as well. the president is still calling for military action. let's listen to that. >> he has made the decision he believes we need to take a military strike but the military understands that whether that happens this week or next week is not going to make the difference with respect to sending the message. >> how do you think the president's decision to delay this is sitting with military
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leaders? >> well, he's been advised by military leaders that they can conduct the strike but at the highest levels of the food chain, i'm sure that they've told him that it's probably not a good idea for a wide variety of tactical and strategic reasons. having said all of that, you know, they're supposed to weigh in on the decision. once the order is given unless it is illegal, they have to salute and carry it out. they told the president they're fully prepared to carry it out. they have assets in place to do it. it's targeted and ready to go. they know exactly what they have to do. all they need is the order to do it. >> does waiting indefinitely for however long, does it actually affect their readiness? >> a lot of people suggested that just waiting around is going to degrade our capability but nothing it further from the truth. commanders at all levels continue to train and use every available minute to train and just because they're on station waiting to launch missiles doesn't mean in any way that
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they're going to be -- they're not going to be ready later on whether it's a week from now or two months from now. you can argue about whether or not it's a good idea. you can argue about the way in which this whole thing is evolved. the military is ready to do what it needs to do. >> all right. patrick, on friday, secretary kerry made the case for immediate action against syria and of course yesterday the president called for congress to debate the issue. how does this affect secretary kerry? >> i think secretary kerry has been very clear as you mentioned that there's a need to act because of this mass killing using chemical weapons. i will tell you, as an american citizen, i like the fact that secretary kerry is there. he's a guy who saw real combat in vietnam. he understands the limits of military action. it goes back also by the way to what colonel jack just said. the military leadership here is saying commander in chief, president obama, what's the end game? we can launch tomahawk missiles
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and take out that we know of chemical weapons but what's the end game if it's not regime change and taking out assad himself, what will this accomplish? that's what we have to debate as a country to make sure we're having the right end game and right strategy moving forward. >> colonel jack, what do you think? does this show any disconnect between the president and secretary kerry? >> this is among the sloppiest of all decision making sequences i think i have ever seen in my life. they got the announcements backward. i think that secretary kerry gave probably the speech of his life, the most impassioned and compelling speech. the greatest argument for intervention and then when the president made a decision after the fact that we weren't going to go right away and there was political considerations that had to be satisfied, it made secretary kerry appear as if he is not in the loop and not part of the decision making process. whether that's the case or not,
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it looks that way. i think it's going to make it much more difficult for secretary kerry and also for secretary hagel as well, to deal with counterparts in other countries because the latter of going to think that the secretary is not necessarily carrying forward a message that can be backed up. that's the biggest problem with having the speeches and actions all out of sequence. >> all right. patrick, perry, jake, thanks. stick around. the brain trust twihat will be back with us. and convincing congress. we'll talk to members of the house committee about the president's case for military action against syria and what happened behind closed doors today on the hill. you're watching cnbc. d i have d. when i first felt the diabetic nerve pain, of course i had no idea what it was. i felt like my feet were going to sleep. it progressed from there to burning
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. >> i think at the end of the day congress will rise to the occasion. this is national security issue. this isn't about barack obama vs. the congress. this isn't about republicans versus democrats. this has a very important worldwide reach in this decision. i think that congress will rise to its article 1 constitutional responsibilities to provide for general defense of the united states but it will take that healthy debate to get there. >> that was republican congressman mike rogers, chair of the house intelligence committee. democratic congressman is a member of that committee and joins me now from his district in rhode island. thanks so much for being with us today. >> good afternoon. >> do you agree with congressman rogers that congress will approve a strike? >> well, that's yet to be seen. it will be rigorously debated obviously. we'll all want to see as much of the intelligence as possible. it seems pretty clear and obviously the president has reached a decision that the
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assad regime has in fact carried out the attack by use of chemical weapons that has resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 civilians, over 400 of whom were children. that simply cannot go unanswered. it is my hope that whatever happens, that the international community speaks with one voice in condemning the attacks in strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons. we cannot allow this to happen again. >> some hill aides say if the vote were taken today, the president would not receive approval. what does the president need to do to get congressional approval between now and when all of you return? >> the president has to continue to make his case to the american people. that's the important thing. in addition to that, speaking directly to congress and working with us to lay out intelligence and make it clear what we know and as i understand it the intelligence is compelling that
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we knew for a period of days leading up to it, the planning that assad regime was doing and seeing where the rockets came from and where they landed. these are the type of things we'll want to see more of in terms of the intelligence but this is obviously a horrific attack and it can't go unanswered. i hear from my constituents that they do not want to see a response that involves any kind of boots on the ground. i share that concern. i don't want to see any u.s. boots on the ground and the president has made clear that he does not intend or plan at all or want to use boots on the ground there. there will be a response by other means if there is a response that congress authorizes. >> as a member of the house intelligence committee yourself, you have been briefed on the information the public has not seen. in your opinion, is there a strong case? you said the president has to
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make a strong case. is it there? >> i think there is a very strong case. the question is will the congress authorize the president to use force? now, i'm getting regular briefings from the intelligence committee obviously looking at more of the classified intelligence for when we return to congress and i look forward to a rigorous debate on the house floor about whether the president plans to use the use of force and as he says prevent and deter the use or transfer of chemical weapons is the right strategy but i think there's obviously significant evidence that says the actions should be taken and it appears to me that very likely that congress would support the president. again, yet to be seen. we'll have to debate the issue and take the vote. >> the action we're talking about is limited strikes, right? so what would that actually do
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to diminish the administration their capacity to launch chemical weapons again against their own citizens? >> well, the goal that the president has laid out is that it would be our intent to prevent or deter the use or transfer of chemical weapons including the use or transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist organizations, which is a significant threat to our own u.s. national security or that of our allies and so the president if he is to carry out an attack presumably it will be on the command and control structure that allowed the attack and use of chemical weapons to occur in the first place and the delivery vehicles that were used to carry out the chemical weapons attack against innocent civilians over 400 of whom were children that lost their lives. >> congressman, thank you so much for being here today. >> thank you. it's a big day at florida
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two months after helping to overturn defense of marriage act, the first justice officiated the same-sex marriage ceremony. it was marriage of her longtime friend. their marriage brings us to today's political playground where liz and mary cheney are giving the term civil rivalry new meaning. mary is gay and married to her longtime partner took to facebook to criticize her sister who is a wyoming senate candidate. for the record i love my sister but she's dead wrong on the
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issue of marriage. pope francis made it clear he wants to connect with young people and what better way to do it than a papal selfie taking inside the basilica. the picture comes the same week that the word selfie was added to the oxford english dictionary. we might see some from former president george w. bush soon because he just joined instagram. he posted this one. no offense to vegans says senator claire mccaskill posting this before and after tweet last night of a pig roast. for offense to vegan viewers. she tweeted an apology. so sorry i offended so many vegans in missouri we raise pigs and cattle and chickens to eat them. new jersey senate candidate cory booker is referred to
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nelson mandela is home today. the 95 year old was discharged this morning after nearly three months in the hospital. mandela was taken to his home by ambulance. he does remain in critical but stable condition. he was admitted to the hospital back in june for a lung infection. here's a quick look at other top stories making news now. dramatic new video shows a car narrowly escaping a giant
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boulder in taiwan. unbelievable really. the boulder fell in landslide caused by heavy rains from a tropical storm. the two passengers inside that car only suffered minor injuries. as kids head back to school, public health officials are worried about outbreaks of infectious diseases including measles. this happened after 20 people at a texas church got sick last month. health officials say other anti-vaccine communities in places like san diego and brooklyn could also be at risk. a music festival has been canceled after two were killed and four were sickened. no cause of death has been determined but a appears a form of ecstasy was involved. now back to the crisis in syria. president obama's announcement saturday that he'll wait for congressional approval before taking any military action in syria elicited strong reaction throughout our country and the
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world as well. let's go to nbc's jim maceda in turkey near sirthe syrian borde. jim, what is the feeling in the region? >> reporter: that really depends on which side of the conflict you find yourself on. let's start here with turkey where we are. the turks have really been at the forefront of lobbying for a major attack on assad that would force him to step down. now, turkey was unhappy with the narrow limited operation that president obama favors and now even that is in question. so turks are very unhappy. on the other hand, the assad regime is positively gloating today. a key regime newspaper called obama's sudden backing off "the start of america's historic retreat." but when this comes to ordinary syrians, some say they feel relief like they dodged a bullet but many others say the fear is
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worse now because they simply don't know when the attack will take place or even if it will happen at all. melissa? >> what have we heard from syrian opposition on this? how are they reacting specifically? >> reporter: well, the syrian opposition said it was di disappointed by obama's indecision. it's left some rebels feeling betrayed and confused. in a statement today, syrian opposition spokesman said this. president obama is sending contradicta arory messages. if congress votes against the military action, it will mean the american people don't want to help the syrian people. melissa, this really gets to the core of obama's democrilemma. he wants to punish assad but not so much the assad regime falls and leaves a vacuum of something
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worse like al qaeda. it's difficult and dangerous balancing act. perhaps the best news of the day is it looks like obama and russian president vladimir putin will meet during next week's g-20 summit in st. petersburg, russia, and syria, we understand, will very much now be on the agenda. will it be a moment to reset relations and see a breakthrough on syria? not likely. >> jim maceda near the syrian border in turkey. thank you. joining me now is maryland senator ben cardin, member of the senate foreign relations committee. thank you for joining me. your committee will hold a hearing on syria this tuesday. will you attend and what do you expect -- who do you expect will be testifying? >> i will be there and i expect we'll hear from top members of the obama administration as to how we -- what type of military action would be appropriate and look at the specific information
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about the use of chemical weapons. the real challenge here is that assad has gone by using chemical weapons to a level that the international community must respond. >> we understand that today's briefing for members of congress by the administration on this issue has just wrapped up for today. many of praising the president for seeking congressional approval for military action. others are criticizing the president for not acting decisively on his own. what do you think about that? >> well, a couple things. first, i think we do need stronger consensus in this country and having an open debate in congress i think will be healthy. i hope that will bring the type of unity in our country and encourage more countries to join us not just in support but in participation of an appropriate response to really affect syria's ability to deliver chemical weapons. >> what's your opinion on -- a lot of people say the president showed weakness by appearing
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indecisive on the whole thing. >> i think the president has been very clear that there will be action. he wants that to be in conjunction with a broader consensus. that's an important part. we need stronger support. we also need to get the mission right. it's got to be very much targeted to syria's ability to use chemical weapons or make it available to terrorist organizations. we have to make sure we get it right. it's not a matter of how quickly he responds. he needs to get it right and he needs to have clear support in this country. >> it's going to be interesting. honestly, congress is all over the place on this. if the vote were held today, what do you think would happen? >> i think that the majority of congress will support taking action against a regime that has used chemical weapons killing over 1,000 people. i think we will. now, we want to make sure that's limited. limit eed to a specific mission that can be achieved and doesn't bring america into a conflict in
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a more aggressive way than we want to be in it. that we don't use troops on the ground. and that we have help from other countries. i think these are questions that have to be answered. >> what do you think the long-term role should be should the u.s. be in syria? >> we very much believe that president assad lost his legitimacy to lead. we want the people of syria to have a representative government that represents all of the factions of syria and respects the rights of all of its citizens and that's why we have been supportive of the opposition. the long-term issues have to be resolved by the people of syria. and i think the united states and international community can play a positive role but certainly we are not going to have our troops on the ground in syria. >> senator cardin, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, now it's in their hands but will congress deliver. our brain trust has the inside scoop up next no health insurance, please. we'll talk to two doctors with a
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responsibility. what's your policy? >> chemical weapons being used and i think -- i expect the administration -- >> we are listening to democratic congressm elijah cummings. >> and most of these people -- i say average education is about four years of college. i don't think many of our constituents understand the full significance of chemical and biological warfare. that's something that the president has got to spend some time explaining the significance of that and why it is off limits
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with regard to 98% of the world. because i think people have got -- i think we got to be careful that the administration is not talking above people when they don't understand the basics. another thing that i think we want to know and my constituents have asked over and over is what is the relationship to the united states. in other words, is there a threat? and a lot of this comes with a background of course of being war weary. people are concerned as i am and then there's another issue that we are concerned about. i am concerned about. what are the possible unintended consequences? and finally, congress is placed in an interesting position because if we don't vote for the
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resolution, the question is whether or not assad is strengthened. >> if the vote were taken today, would you be yes or no? >> i honestly cannot say. i've got to have a lot of questions answered. i must admit that some of them were answered here today. but there are a lot more questions that have to be answered. >> are you comfortable with the way the legislation and draft authorization is written? >> not yet. we've got -- i think the draft resolution is very, very broad. i think one of the concerns in the past has been whether these type of resolutions were too broad. i think when it comes to these issues, the president has said that this effort would be limited in scope and duration
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and i don't know exactly whether the resolution is that limited. >> what is it that you still need to know? >> you know, i want to know exactly what the game plan is. in other words, let's assume we do a limited strike and how will this strike lead to as the resolution says, to a diplomatic resolution to this issue. i think -- and another thing i'm concerned about is that what happens, i need to know what happens if we don't approve it. a lot of people are concentrating on approving it. what happens if we don't? is assad's hand strengthened? and let's say we don't approve
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it, and assad does something else, does that mean we come back and rehash all of this over again? those are the kind of issues that we have -- that i want to have some answers to and i think the administration will work very hard over the next week to provide those kind of answers. >> are you satisfied that if perhaps congress votes it down -- >> once again this is democratic congressman elijah cummings of maryland reflecting confusion among members of congress on whether to approve military action in syria as the administration makes its case in favor of that military action. there are loads of questions as you can see with the congressman here. they want answers. this debate will continue obviously and we will continue to follow it. around ♪ ♪ every now and then i get a little bit tired ♪ ♪ of craving something that i can't have ♪ ♪ turn around barbara ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪ ♪
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deserves. >> so you mentioned that you have a radio show and you have people calling in and talking about their concerns. let's turn for a moment to obama care also known as the affordable health care act. what are people and. what are people saying and what are their concerns and your concerns? >> well, you know, i think what's most important about the health care reform is that it's really started the dialogue and, you know, with us being in media and on the radio we're really able to take part in that dialogue with consumers of health care. you know, they want to know am i going to be able to access health care? is it going to be affordable, and so, you know, a model like ours really allows us the flexibility and it allows us the opportunity to deliver that health care regardless of their insurance status, and we find that it really makes a difference because if people have access to health care, we find that they really participate in it and really do
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want to take care of themselves and access has just been a barrier for too long. >> rob and carla robinson, best of luck to you with all of that. thank you so much. and do you have a big idea that's making a difference? tell us about it by e-mailing us at we're watching capitol hill where members of congress are getting out of a briefing on syria. former pennsylvania congressman patrick murphy and iraq war veteran and msnbc contributor perry bacon jr. and political editor for the grio and msnbc military analyst retired u.s. army colonel and recipient of the u.s. medal of honor jack jacobs. the president has given congress what it asked for, but with all of its bipartisan bickering all the time, can congress actually come up with a solution to this? can they actually deliver? >> well, that's why the president when he looked at the
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authorization for the use of military form, what he sent over to the congress was very clear, and it really -- it might be even narrowed down a little bit by congress, but they can't screw this up, melissa. this is their constitutional authority under article 1, section 8 of the constitution, couldn't be more clear but there's a reason why congress has a 10% approval rating. sometimes they take victory from the jaws or defeat from the jaws of victory. i mean, i don't have a lot of confidence but at least they are having the debate and at least they haven't punted their number one responsibility to the american people and they will take this debate within the coming weeks. i wish they called them back and took it this week, to be honest with you. >> so perry, what do you think? not only is there bipartisan bickering amongst congressional members. obviously there is, but also there's mass confusion when it comes to this, as we just heard earlier. members are coming out and speaking about they have so many
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questions and they are all over the place. can there be a workable co-ownership of a policy on syria? >> i think so. this is not like typical bickering in washington, i don't think, where we're arguing about it's very partisan and very divisive and not very substantive. i talked to the congress today and watched congressman cummings usually in support of president obama who is very reluctant about this intervention, i think this is not bickering. this is like generally people in the congress trying to figure out is this the right policy, is this the right decision? will it have the right results? i think this is more sincere than usual in washington, a word i don't use often, but i think it's a sincere debate, and when they come back here you'll see republicans and democrats, splits the parties in some ways so i think eventually there will be a resolution, but i think we'll have ten days of real debate about is the president right or wrong about this? >> jack, let's turn to you. the united states started on a path with support from british and the british parliament voted
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it down and france wants to have a debate on it as well. is syria something that the u.s. can handle unilaterally if we actually need to do that? >> oh, yeah. it was going to be a limited objective attack anyway, destroy as many airplanes as we possibly could and command and control headquarters, mobile missile launches and the like, and we've got something in the neighborhood of 300 cruise missiles available to strike in the first strike, and it was -- it was going to be all of our own show anyway. all of the ordinants and direction and control was coming from the united states so there's no doubt that we can to it ourselves. the real question is what is the objective? if the objective is to stop assad from killing his own people i don't think that this is necessarily going to do it so it's mainly a punitive strike because we said we were going to strike. in the end it -- it will be successful in doing that, but doing anything else i'm not sure
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>> john mccain said the president's decision could create more problems than it solves. i just want to take a second so we can listen to that. >> this reversal at the 11th hour of the president's position from saying he was going to act militarily to saying that he has to get the endorsement from congress has had a significant effect throughout the region. it has encouraged our enemies. it has discouraged our allies. >> patrick, do you agree with the senator? >> no, not at all. i mean, john mccain wanted to have action in syria months and months ago, him and lindsey graham. melissa, i think we're losing focus on. this is a debate that you're going to have in congress on where america sees itself in global leadership, especially when it comes to national security. our country has underwritten national security for the last 60 years, paid for it with treasure and our own blood. i have walked the fields of
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srebrenica. when president clinton was the commander in chief, he basically saved tens of thousands of muslims from being murdered, continuing to be murdered in that region which was happening but it wasn't until america got involved that stopped that. again, that was a case, melissa, where the u.n. and nato authorized force. we have to exhaust our revenues here. we need a vote asap with the u.n. security council and the american people. >> former pennsylvania congressman patrick murphy, perry bacon jr. from the grio and msnbc military analyst colonel jack jacobs. thanks to all of you today, our brain trust. >> thank you. >> that is it for us. thanks for watching this sunday afternoon. craig melvin will be back here next saturday at 2:00 p.m. up next "disrupt with karen finney."
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thanks for disrupting your sunday afternoon. i'm karen finney. at this hour the president and his team are making their case for air strikes in syria. >> i will seek authorization for the use of force from the american's people's representatives in congress. >> this was a total reversal for the president. >> he didn't say it's a red line and by the way i'll have to seek the approval of congress. >> boy, they were ready. had the destroyers in the mediterranean ready to go. >> hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of sarin. sarin, sarin, sarin. >> i know that the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be even more effect ie.