President Will Seek Congressional OK For Syria Action

Aug 31, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama as the President speaks Saturday in the White House Rose Garden.
Credit Charles Dharapak/AP

President Obama said Saturday he had decided to take military action against Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons, but that he will seek a congressional mandate for the action that could come "tomorrow, next week or one month from now."

Speaking from the Rose Garden, the president said he believed that he had the authority to act without Congress, but said he thinks "our country will be better off" if he had it.

"After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syria," Obama said. "I am prepared to give that order."

Obama said the assault in Syria on Aug. 21 that killed more than 1,400 including hundreds of children by White House estimates, was "an attack on human dignity."

The president said he had spoken "with all four congressional leaders" on Saturday and that he had been assured that a debate could take place soon to authorize military action.

He said the U.S. had a moral obligation to act to show that "we do what we say" and that "right makes might and not the other way around."

He challenged lawmakers to consider "what message will we send to a dictator" if Syria's use of chemical weapons were allowed to go unpunished.

The president appealed for congressional leaders to consider their responsibilities and values in debating U.S. military action in Syria over its alleged chemical weapons use."Some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment," he said. "Today I'm asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are united as one nation."

"I know well that we are weary of war," the President added. "We ended a war in Iraq, we are ending another in Afghanistan."

"That's why we are not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else's war," he said.

The president's address comes after that will be analyzed in laboratories in Europe to the presence of a suspected nerve agent.

Also on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. claims that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons

Putin said the claims amounted to a provocation to use force against Damascus.