Obama asks Congress to approve Syria strike

August 31, 2013

President Barack Obama on Saturday declared that he has decided that the United States should launch limited military strikes against Syria and pressed Congress to authorize them, warning “in a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted.”

“After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” Obama said in the Rose Garden of the White House.

“This would not be an open-ended intervention, we would not put boots on the ground,” he said. “Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope.”

Obama said he had spoken by telephone with Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and that they agreed to hold a debate and a vote on authorizing the use of force “as soon as Congress comes back into session.” That would be Sept. 9 unless they opt to return earlier.

“I’m prepared to give that order, but having made my decision as commander in chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interest, I’m also mindful that I’m the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy,” Obama said. “I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.”

The president said his top military advisers had assured him that American military assets are in place and can “strike whenever we choose” and that the decision to unleash an attack is “not time sensitive – it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.”

After Obama spoke, aides said top national security officials would brief all members of the Senate and House of Representatives on Capitol Hill at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey had been set to brief lawmakers on Saturday and Sunday, but it was not immediately clear whether they would be the officials to inform Congress on Sunday.

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