The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee blamed low polling and congressional support for strikes on Syria in large part on President Obama’s handling of the request.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told CNN this morning that the necessary votes in either chamber are “certainly not here today.”
“Here’s what we need to do. We need to understand the use of those chemical weapons is a serious problem. We have other nations, North Korea, Iran, others that we believe have stockpiles, at least some stockpiles of chemical weapons, so they’re used. By the way, this was an escalation of use. The British think it was 14 times. This happened to be the biggest because there was no earlier intervention or no pressure for him or no consequence for him using it earlier than that. So we’ve seen human nature here. If he can use it to his advantage, he will. It sends a pretty important message to North Korea and Iran, if they can use it to their advantage and there’s no consequence, they likely will at some point,” said Rogers.
“So we need so say, we need fix this problem of his use of chemical weapons. How does the United States secure those chemical weapons after this to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands? And the next step up, this isn’t really a civil war. It’s a proxy war with Iran and Russia. And it’s turning into a regional conflict. All of that has national security consequences for the United States.”
Rogers said Obama’s main problem, as he gears up to make his case to the nation tomorrow night, is he “started the debate basically today, this week.”
“So he hasn’t had any national or foreign policy speeches really to speak of in the last five years. He hasn’t really talked about Syria in a meaningful way with any depth of understanding of how it impacts the United States at all,” the chairman said. “He has very poor relations with members of Congress, of both parties, by the way. They are completely disengaged. And so they’re coming in and asking for a very big thing without allowing I think Americans and most members of Congress who don’t sit on national security committees to understand the broader impact of what’s going on in Syria.”
“So, listen, by the way, he announced it on a Saturday and left for a week. And so, you couldn’t do this in a worse way, in my opinion. But we find ourselves where we are. So what I hope happens this week is we have that dialogue and that discussion and that debate, as we should as members of Congress, about national security issues. And that means we will get some classified information that our constituents won’t have access to.”
Rogers stressed that “believe me, there are consequences for not doing something.”
“We better have that discussion in a way that allows each member to come to their own conclusion about what is the United States’ national security interest on a bigger scope. And I think, hopefully, that can happen this week,” he said.
“…The president has a huge credibility problem. I get that. And it’s real, and, as I said, I’m a little skeptical until you go through this process. The good news is people who are getting exposed to the classified reports, Republicans and Democrats, have come out and said, you know, yep, I get the chemical weapons thing.”