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Harkin on Classified Syria Briefing: 'Frankly Raised More Questions Than It Answered'

6:18 PM, Sep 1, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama has some work to do if he wants congressional authority to bomb Syria. Already some of his liberal allies are questioning the evidence which is supposed to show that Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people.

“I have just attended a classified Congressional briefing on Syria that quite frankly raised more questions than it answered. I found the evidence presented by Administration officials to be circumstantial. The atrocious use of chemical weapons against civilian is an affront to human values and a violation of international law. It should be condemned by the international community as a whole," liberal Democrat Tom Harkin says in a statement released after today's classified Capitol Hill briefing.

“The coming debate in Congress will hopefully shine the light on outstanding questions -- as will the results of the U.N. inspection team. We must wait for these results before any action is taken. What I hear from Iowans is that the Middle East has a complex history and the conflicts there will not be solved by U.S. military action alone. We should not rush into what may become a new open-ended war without broad international backing or a full understanding of the ramifications.”

On the flip side, Obama will have some work in the other direction if he wants to convince some hawks that attacking Syria is a good idea. 

“We believe President Obama is correct that the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons requires a military response by the United States and our friends and allies. Since the President is now seeking Congressional support for this action, the Congress must act as soon as possible," said Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham in a statement released yesterday.

“However, we cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the President's stated goal of Assad's removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests. Anything short of this would be an inadequate response to the crimes against humanity that Assad and his forces are committing. And it would send the wrong signal to America's friends and allies, the Syrian opposition, the Assad regime, Iran, and the world – all of whom are watching closely what actions America will take.”

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