Buck McKeon, head of the Armed Services Committee, accuses the Russian president of ‘'hypocrisy and convenient ignorance.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for more deaths in Syria than any chemical weapons attack—and his New York Times op-ed was a mix of hypocrisy and convenient ignorance, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee wrote Tuesday in the Moscow Times, a free English-language paper published in Russia’s capital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the second working meeting of the G20 heads of state and government at the G20 Summit on September 6, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Valeriy Melnikov/Host Photo Agency via Getty)
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) has become the first senior U.S. official to respond in the Russian media to Putin’s New York Times op-ed warning against U.S. intervention in Syria. The 11-term congressman from suburban Los Angeles accuses Putin of glossing over Russia’s role in the death of over 100,000 Syrians since the civil war began, points out that Putin stymied U.N. action for over two years before embracing the institution, and argues that Russia has a poor record on human rights and the treatment of its own citizens.
“The Americans who read Putin's op-ed are not dupes,” McKeon wrote. “They are aware of the suppression of the Russian people, the intimidation of journalists and the wanton disregard for basic human rights. In addition, they are able to identify irony when they see it — particularly when it is Putin who is making a spontaneous appeal for humanitarianism and the observance of rule of law.”
As if nerves weren’t tense enough in Washington DC on Monday with the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, a man was arrested for throwing fireworks at the White House. At approximately 6:40PM, a man threw two different firecrackers over the White House fence. One eyewitness, Clark Cashion, a junior at Pepperdine University spending the semester in Washington DC, described the fireworks as having about a three second fuse and being slightly larger than cherry bombs. “They didn’t produce any fire,” he said “but a lot of smoke.”
Cashion and his friend, Philip Moran, had stopped to take photos in front of the White House when they saw a man, who appeared to be about 5’10 or 5’11 and in his late 30s, throw the first firecracker over the White House fence. Three or four Secret Service agents then rushed him as he continued to stand still and light another small explosive, which he tossed over the fence as the agents converged on him and tackled him. “They blew him up” said Moran, likening it to a quarterback throwing a ball downfield while knowing that he’s about to get hit from his blind side.
Both Cashion and Moran are spending the semester interning on Capitol Hill and had experienced the heightened security on Congress Monday morning in the aftermath of the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 killed, including gunman Aaron Alexis. “It’s crazy” Cashion said, shaking his head.
Her research on Syria influenced key lawmakers—but ‘Dr.’ Elizabeth O’Bagy wasn’t who she said she was. For the first time, she tells Josh Rogin that she was never even in a Ph.D. program.
Elizabeth O’Bagy, the Syria researcher at the center of a week-long controversy surrounding her academic credentials and her work with the Syrian opposition, admitted for the first time to The Daily Beast she was never enrolled in a Ph.D. program despite representations she made to the press and multiple organizations for whom she worked.
Elizabeth O'Bagy. (Fox News)
O’Bagy, whose work on the Syrian opposition was hailed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), was fired from her job as the lead Syria researcher at the Institute for the Study of War on Sept. 10 after it was revealed that she misled her bosses by telling them she had completed a dissertation defense for a Georgetown Ph.D. Subsequently, questions arose as to whether or not O’Bagy was ever enrolled in the joint MA/Ph.D. program that she claimed in her official biography.
O’Bagy confirmed to The Daily Beast that she was only enrolled in a master’s program at Georgetown and had applied to join the joint MA/Ph.D. program but was never accepted.
Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is not happy with John Kerry.
Secretary of State John Kerry, along with other administration officials, has been making statements on the Syria crisis that are “unhelpful” and have muddied President Obama’s case for a strike, according to Democratic Senate Armed Services chairman Carl Levin.
President Obama himself is not responsible for the confusion over his Syria policy and the various explanations of how significant the strike he is planning against Bashar al-Assad would be, according to Levin. The Michigan senator said that several staffers, including Kerry and Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, have said things that have confused and hurt the president’s case, he said.
“There are a number of things that have been said that are not helpful at all, including some by Kerry,” Levin said,
The debate over Syria is starting to become part of the partisan cut and thrust in Washington. Ben Jacobs reports.
Is Syria already becoming a political football?
The debate over military intervention has cut across partisan lines, with both Democrats and Republicans describing it as a “conscience vote.” But this hasn’t stopped the issue from already being used as a handy political weapon by Republicans to clobber President Obama for his leadership, or lack thereof, on the issue.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
In the last week, the Republican National Committee issued two different fact sheets that whacked Obama on the current Middle East quagmire. One went after him for his ”red line” around the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, and the other made hay of the lack of unity in the Democratic Party around military intervention in Syria.
Congress is expected to vote this week on whether to authorize the use of force in Syria. As things stand, it’s not looking good for Obama, though the president has launched a full-court press to get the votes he needs. Below, the current stances of a handful of lawmakers and other key figures, based in part on their public statements.
For a president with rhetorical skills, Obama’s challenge on Tuesday is to convince us that the madness in Syria must end now. If he can move the nation, he can move Congress, writes Eleanor Clift.
A president’s prestige is generally not committed to anything unless the outcome is assured. Not since President Obama’s quixotic trip to Copenhagen in 2009 to secure the Olympics for Chicago has there been anything quite so seat-of-the-pants as the White House’s push for congressional support to back the use of force in Syria. In the grand scheme, of course, a rebuff from the Olympic Committee after flying on Air Force One to Europe was a minor embarrassment compared with what President Obama faces should the Senate and the House vote down his request for a resolution of force after his administration’s full court press over the past week.
“Losing this will shatter his presidency,” says William Galston with the Brookings Institution. “He didn’t have to go to Congress but once he did, it’s hard for me to believe that if you consult the people’s representatives and they say no, that he can act.”
Campaign lore has it that Obama is at his best when his back is to the wall. Aides cite his comeback after losing New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton in 2008, the speech on race in Philadelphia that salvaged his campaign, his recovery last year after being savaged by Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate. While the outlook is grim going into next week with various tallies documenting what a hard, heavy lift Obama faces, the White House still has some cards to play.
They couldn’t wait to invade Iraq. Now they don’t want to go near Syria.
For the first time since the Iraq War in 2002, Congress is debating military action in the Middle East. But this time around, the resistance is palpable—most notably from the very Republicans who supported President Bush in the run-up to Iraq. Their reasons for opposing intervention in Syria differ. Some are scarred by what they see as mistakes made in Iraq. Others seem to be motivated by Obama himself, and the urge to oppose him at any cost.
Clockwise, from top left: Dana Rohrabacher, Ralph Hall, John Culberson, and John Shimkus. (Getty (3); AP (1))
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) said in a statement, “I am strongly opposed to American military involvement in Syria. One side is Assad and Iran, the other side is al Qaeda. We have no business supporting either side.” Culberson went on to attack the president’s proposal to Congress. “President Obama’s proposed mission does not include clear military objectives or clear policy goals,” said Culberson. “The information the President has shared with Congress leaves many unanswered questions. He must explain to Congress and to the American people what vital national interests are at stake and how our involvement in Syria will secure these interests.”
In 2002, Culberson took an entirely different approach with Iraq when George Bush was President. At the time he said, “We have to trust our commander in chief, who has proven to be such a magnificent wartime president, and to have such impeccable leadership skills.”
Senate leadership will ultimately need to muster 60 votes to pass the resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria, as the measure will be treated like any other resolution and will also be subject to a potential filibuster.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Some reports have speculated that under the War Powers Act, the Syria war resolution could be brought to the Senate floor under special circumstances with only limited debate and requiring only a simple majority to pass. But Senate leadership has decided to treat the Syria war authorization, approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 10–7 Wednesday afternoon, like any other joint resolution. This means that it will be subject to a cloture motion, which requires 60 votes to pass, except in the unlikely event that all 100 senators give unanimous consent to move directly to a final vote.
“This joint resolution will be treated like any other joint resolution,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide tells The Daily Beast. “That means we’ll have to move to proceed to the measure, and without consent it could face a 60-vote cloture vote on the motion to proceed.”
Senate Democratic leadership tossed aside the rules for moving legislation with regard to the resolution authorizing the use of military force against Syria, angering some Republicans and creating confusion on Capitol Hill in the run-up to the war vote.
Sen. Robert Menendez on Feb. 13. (Mark Wilson/Getty)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved a modified war resolution Wednesday afternoon by vote of 10–7 with one member, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), voting present. The committee's action allows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring the measure to the floor as early as Monday, following a break for the Jewish holidays. That would allow a vote by the full Senate as soon as Wednesday, giving the Senate a chance to pass a war resolution before the House has a chance to craft and pass a resolution of its own.
But some GOP Senate offices are upset with what they see as a rush by Democratic leadership to pass the war authorization outside the rules that govern how legislation goes through the committee process.
The Senate has come up with its version of the resolution that would authorize President Obama to strike Syria and it gives him 90 days to complete the mission. Josh Rogin has the details.
Late Tuesday evening, Senate leaders reached a compromise on a resolution to authorize President Obama to use military force against Syria for up to 60 days with a one-time optional 30 day extension, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Daily Beast.
The resolution, the result of a negotiation between Senate Foreign Relations Committee heads Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN), also would prohibit Obama from putting American boots on the ground, limits the mission to attacking Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities, and requires a report to Congress laying out the administration’s plan for aiding the moderate elements of the armed Syrian opposition within 30 days. The limits on the duration of the president’s authorization are in line with the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and Congress would have to grant any extension after the initial 90 day period.
The committee will hold a business meeting Wednesday at 11:30 to review and vote on the resolution to send it to the Senate floor. That means committee members will have to make up their minds before a scheduled classified briefing by Secretary of State John Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
AIPAC is breaking precedent to support war resolution on Syria. Eli Lake reports.
America’s largest pro-Israel lobby has deployed its organization in Congress to push for the president’s war authorization against Syria, according to a senior official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who called the effort a "full court press."
Earlier Tuesday, AIPAC issued a strong statement supporting the president’s call for congressional authorization of limited airstrikes against Syria. A senior official at AIPAC tells The Daily Beast that the organization’s leadership received a phone call from a senior White House official on Saturday, after the president’s surprise announcement that he would be seeking congressional authorization for a Syria strike, asking what AIPAC's position would be on a congressional resolution. This official said the lobby received similar calls from Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.
While AIPAC lobbies Congress for a stronger U.S.-Israel relationship, the group rarely deploys its lobbyists in favor of war resolutions like the one before Congress on Syria. During the Iraq War debate in 2002 and 2003, the group did not make the war resolution a priority. In the days after the 9/11 attacks, AIPAC did not take a position on the authorization of the use of military force against al Qaeda.
Gen. Martin Dempsey testified Tuesday that the delay in launching airstrikes in Syria is helping the Assad regime prepare. Josh Rogin reports from Capitol Hill.
President Obama’s decision to delay his planned strike against Syria to seek congressional authorization could make a bombing campaign more difficult and has allowed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to prepare for an attack, Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testified Tuesday.
When announcing his two decisions on August 31—one to use military force against Syria and another to seek a formal authorization for the use of force from Congress—Obama said that Dempsey had assured him the attacks would still be effective even if delayed until after September 9, when Congress returns from recess.
“The chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I'm prepared to give that order," Obama said.
The United States should strike Syria to prevent Hezbollah and other terrorist groups from getting their hands on chemical weapons, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will testify today.
Former senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 31, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Pete Marovich/MCT, via Getty)
“As President Obama said, the use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only an assault on humanity—it is a serious threat to America’s national security interests and those of our closest allies. The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons poses grave risks to our friends and partners along Syria’s borders—including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq,” Hagel will tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon, according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained in advance by The Daily Beast. “If Assad is prepared to use chemical weapons against his own people, we have to be concerned that terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which has forces inside Syria supporting the Assad regime, could acquire them."
Hagel testifies to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the use of force in Syria.
Two state senators are vulnerable to recall after backing gun-control legislation. What’s that got to do with Michael Bloomberg? Ben Jacobs explains.
On Sept. 10, Colorado voters will decide whether or not to recall two Democratic state senators in what is universally agreed to be a battle of Colorado voters versus special interests. The catch, of course, is that while Democrats see entitled groups like the NRA trying to quash common-sense gun control measures in the state where the Aurora movie theater shootings occurred, Republicans see big-city elitists like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spending millions of dollars to impose their values on Coloradans.
Democratic State Senate President John Mors (right), Colorado Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo (left) (AP)
The recall is in response to gun-control measures that passed the Colorado Legislature earlier this year, mandating universal background checks and limiting magazines to 15 rounds. After they passed, conservatives organized efforts to recall several state legislators who backed gun control. These were successful only in two districts—against state senate President John Morse in Colorado Springs and against Sen. Angela Giron in Pueblo.
These will be first legislative recalls in the history of the Rocky Mountain State and because of their historic nature, it has created a host of litigation and confusion over what the rules will be. One state judge even jokingly compared the elections to a “labradoodle” because it will combine so many voters on various sides of issues.
After President Obama announced a shift in approach to the conflict in Syria, Josh Rogin joins ‘The Daily Rundown’ on MSNBC to offer his take on whether the move was too little, too late.