A House Democrat defended the White House’s fudging of the red line regarding Syria’s chemical weapons by saying Bashar al-Assad might just be testing his sarin instead of killing civilians and claiming Russia can rein in the regime.
On ABC’s This Week Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the evidence he’s seen on the chemical weapons is conclusive enough to believe the red line, at which President Obama promised he’d take action, had been crossed.
“And there is also classified information that we have, that I think strengthens the case that in fact some small amount of chemical weapons have been used over the course of the last two years. And the problem is, you know the president has laid down the line. He — and it can’t be a dotted line. It can’t be anything other than a red line. And more than just Syria, Iran is paying attention to this. North Korea is paying attention to this,” Rogers said.
“So I think the options aren’t huge, but some action needs to be taken. And if you think about the destabilizing impact. Right now, the chemical weapons have been small in use. If you have a larger use, the refugee and humanitarian crisis that comes from that is huge,” he added.
Rogers’ counterpart on the committee, ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), was asked why Assad would use the sarin in such a small area.
“Well the first thing, he could be testing. We’re not sure. But whatever that is, it’s — it is a red line, and you don’t kill people with chemical weapons,” Ruppersberger said.
The White House has contended it needs a UN investigation before taking any action as promised.
“And it’s not just about the United States and where we stand, it’s at — that the whole world and those countries around there,” Ruppersberger continued. “I think a key player here, is Russia. I think Russia can stand up and make a difference. And they have before in the last couple of — within the last month, Russia I’m sure went to Assad and said, look you don’t cross this line. And I — and I think at this point we — that’s where we are.”
Rep. Jan Schakowky (D-Ill.) said she appreciates Obama’s “deliberative approach” to the red line.
“We certainly want to finish the investigation,” she said. “But he said, it’s not an on and off switch, but it is — it has changed his calculations. And of course, he’s looking into all of the options. But, you know to — to imply that maybe we’re not doing enough, or we’re not doing anything, I think also is a mistake.”
Rogers said “indecision has lessened the number of options we have available” and allowed al-Qaeda to “attach themselves to the secular units” of the opposition forces.
“That causes a huge problem for us. And here’s the biggest problem, and why at least our leadership, and this is not about military intervention alone, how often is the Arab League actually asking us to show leadership with them, to help coordinate their resources on the ground in Syria?” Rogers added. “It doesn’t happen very often. Why?”