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(55,894 posts)
Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:12 PM Aug 2013

U.S. congressional leaders to receive Syria briefing on Thursday

Source: Reuters

U.S. congressional leaders to receive Syria briefing on Thursday

By Patricia Zengerle and Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON | Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:50pm EDT

(Reuters) - Senior Obama administration officials will brief congressional leaders on Thursday on the situation in Syria, congressional aides said, amid complaints by lawmakers they have not been properly consulted as the president deliberates about possible military action.

The briefing by senior White House and national security officials will be with leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the chairmen and ranking members of national security committees, Democratic and Republican congressional aides said.

President Barack Obama has a legal obligation to consult with Congress before sending U.S. forces into harm's way.

The briefing comes as U.S. lawmakers have increasingly complained they should have more of a say in any decision to punish Syria militarily in response to last week's chemical weapons attack on thousands of civilians.



Obama has broad legal powers to undertake military action against Syria. Under the 1973 U.S. War Powers Act, the president must notify lawmakers within 48 hours of launching military action. But forces can fight for 60 days before Congress has to approve any action.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/29/us-syria-crisis-usa-congress-idUSBRE97R18W20130829

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Arctic Dave

(13,812 posts)
1. Apparently we don't get to see the evidence?
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 12:02 AM
Aug 2013

The people of the US must be too dumb to understand the chosen ones.



(55,894 posts)
5. #1. this is a representative democracy #2. perhaps we will.
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 12:25 AM
Aug 2013

Edit- I sure as heck hope they can present solid evidence if anything of note transpires.


(23,047 posts)
2. Of course the American people don't get briefed.
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 12:07 AM
Aug 2013

This is such utter bullshit. It will be a monumental blunder on Obama's watch, and the body count will be his responsibility, if he follows through on what some are saying is inevitable. There's still time to step back save his presidency...


(62,259 posts)
7. From the strikes or from the post-strike Syria raid?
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 01:23 AM
Aug 2013

I do agree Obama would be culpable for those bodies because he's been likely informed of them.

But so would the Syrian government, equally as well.


(53,661 posts)
4. The two sentences in the law seem to contradict each other to me, a lay person:
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 12:20 AM
Aug 2013
Under the 1973 U.S. War Powers Act, the president must notify lawmakers within 48 hours of launching military action.

Okay, no problemo. He is doing that.

But forces can fight for 60 days before Congress has to approve any action.

60 days, starting when? Right after the briefing, or before the briefing?
Why not get approval or a declaration of war? And have we ever really had one since then? Or was that only a formality throughout history?

The 1973 War Powers Act was a Nixon-era law, not sure that there was a good reason for it. The Vietnam War was close to ending at that time.

Or was it a limit on what previous presidents had done with some actions around the world?

Like to hear from better informed members, such as veterans or currently enlisted folks. TIA.


(27,509 posts)
8. The clock starts at the start of military action.
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 06:42 AM
Aug 2013

After he starts firing missiles, he has two days to notify Congress.
He doesn't have to notify Congress before taking military action.
After he starts firing missiles, Congress has two months to approve it.
If they don't, he has another month to withdraw troops and stop launching missiles.


(53,661 posts)
10. So it's a 'military action' and not a 'war' until Congress 'declares war.' TRIGGER WARNING: WW2 PICS
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 03:06 PM
Aug 2013
Takes a lot of steam out of the Tea Party's 'Constitutional scholar' approach on things. This is legal, not grounds for impeachment. They have not repealed that law nor the Patriot Act, NDAA, etc.

So 'war powers' are not 'wars' but refer to the 'military actions' that do or don't lead to war. More than one POTUS has done things to help allies with or without getting a 'declaration of war from Congress' in American history:


President Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease bill to give aid to Britain and China (1941)

Lend-Lease (Pub.L. 77–11, H.R. 1776, 55 Stat. 3034, enacted March 11, 1941)[1] was a program under which the United States supplied Great Britain, the USSR, Republic of China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and August 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of World War II in Europe in September 1939. This was nine months before the U.S. entered the war in December 1941. Formally titled An Act to Further Promote the Defense of the United States, the Act effectively ended the United States' pretense of neutrality.

A total of $50.1 billion (equivalent to $639 billion today) worth of supplies were shipped. That represented 17% of the total war expenditures of the U.S.[2] In all, $31.4 billion went to Britain, $11.3 billion to the Soviet Union, $3.2 billion to France, $1.6 billion to China, and smaller sums to other Allies. Reverse Lend-Lease comprised services such as rent on air bases that went to the U.S., and totaled $7.8 billion; of this, $6.8 billion came from the British and the Commonwealth. The terms of the agreement provided that the material was to be used until time for their return or destruction. In practice very little equipment was returned. Supplies that arrived after the termination date were sold to Britain at a large discount for £1.075 billion using long-term loans from the United States. Canada operated a similar program called Mutual Aid that sent a loan of $1 billion and $3.4 billion in supplies and services to Britain and other Allies.[3][4] The United States did not charge for aid supplied under this legislation.

This program was a decisive step away from non-interventionist policy, which had dominated United States foreign relations since 1931.


I see a parallel with what Obama has been doing with that, and all of the diplomacy going on. It is avoiding all out, full scale warfare. It's not perfect, but allowing another World War to break out is worse. Just because we hate it so much doesn't mean that we have to jump off that particular cliff. We've seen what happens.

Some say to this day, that we should not have gotten involved with WW2. That diplomacy would have stopped Germany and Japan, and maybe even Mussolini and Franco. And that later we should have not opposed USSR actions.

Interesting that the Koch family were financially involved with both Stalin and Mussolini's regimes. And they still think they had the better way of running a nation than FDR and his democratic socialist policies. We are still fighting this out, even if the names have been changed to protect the billionaires. Since some might no longer support their social and economic policies due to memories of WW2 and the fight against fascism.

I'm time traveling here, skipping about, pardon me. This engagement, and I think that word is more than what this is, sounds more like Libya was, with the UK, et al, saying Qaddafi had to go because of a sudden increase in human rights abuse. Syria, like Libya has factions fighting with varying amounts of armaments in several countries in the world.

Like the other African nations which are falling apart and being supplied by similarly minded factions in other nations. The article in the OP says that the UK Labour party will support this, but others will not. We have Rand Paul saying that we should deny aid to any country that is harming Christians, and that's a faction here. It has nothing to do with the entire government of any of these countries, but it transcends and wants something beyond the limitations of a nation state. Think of armed warlords rolling down the streets, no unified government to protect human rights, and that really is the goal of some. But I digress.

So this is not Iraq, it's not a 'war' and I hope all sides will cease fire long enough to get the facts out, if possible. But there are so many bits of conflicting data, as one report this morning says 100 people were killed by Sarin, but earlier this week (UK sources, not American) said it was 1,000. Some reports say the number of people killed in the last two years were thousands, other say 100,000 have been killed and half a million displaced by fighting and fleeing. A humanitarian disaster has occurred under the leadership or lack of it under Assad but he may not be entirely to blame. 'Tag, you're it' applies.

And it's not as if we in the general public know what Assad has been doing all of these years, but he's been labeled as vicious for decades. One poster on DU said, but that was without a link, that current troubles are from Assad's resources being insufficient to take care of Iraqi refugees as if they were citizens. The poster did not say they were being repressed for religious or political reasons, but mentioned poverty and people are angry there, naturally.

Not that poverty is not a form of oppression, but were these invited guests as the poster seemed to suggest? Why is Assad buying billions of dollars of Russian weaponry for defense, and just who is he fighting with? And for what, other than to keep himself in power? Is it the same poor refugees? Who are we supposed to empathize with?

Syria has never been open to western media, AFAIK and I can't blame them for not wanting to be used by the MIC owners of the media for their propaganda games. Another poster wrote that Russia wants to be the regional power and why they support Assad.

But the media, I can't trust from any side. They are now appearing to all act the same, with bits of disinformation for all social types.

Looking up who was in NATO, the primary player in all of this, with Turkey involved, I was surprised at the power of this post-WW2 alliance. It was a result of the 'never again' motto that also created the world's 'Five Eyes' spy network. Because no one wants another WW2.

The Turkish government is dealing with a flood of refugees coming from Syria right now and has opposed Assad's actions for years is all I have read, but without any reason given. I don't know the basis of their animosity toward Assad, calling for his ouster. The current flood of refugees to Turkey echoes what happened to Syria from the Iraqi war.

People don't always swear allegiance to the government of their new home, and it may be that in crossing the border, they want to re-make their new home to be like the old one, despite opposition to doing so. Any action government takes to stop them doing so will be deionized by the new comers. demonized the truth of Syria, I do know that Assad was accused of supporting the deadly strife in Lebanon years ago and it's never been the same, reportedly, with many of its citizens also fleeing abroad.

Wikipedia cites NATO as the recipient of 70% of the world's defense spending. It didn't say which nation bore the brunt of the costs, but I suspect it's the USA, and the other members seem to think that's our job, as well as supplying bombs and warm bodies. The 'baton has been passed' or so some say. What relay race are we in, I'd like to know, but on a gut level I have two conflicting answers that would both sound mad, and I'm conflicted.

But with NATO, the power given us is not solely in the hands of our government, nor are the interests or needs of other nations of NATO necessarily the same as what most of us believe ours to be. It's possible there is no escape from this web.

The reports from the UK media are inflammatory, Obama and Kerry have avoided being drawn into Syria, despite many complaints for years on their lack of anything but diplomatic action and being called weak or treasonous. Since Kerry testified on Vietnam war crimes and Obama was sent to a madrassa as a child many years ago, RWers call it treason.

Even a limited air war in Syria will be seen by some as the same thing as Libya, and we had very heated fights here on DU on who the good guys were there, like Egypt and other places.

NATO has acted with force on human rights issues before. It's in its charter to do so, when it affects member states. In this case, Turkey is being affected, we are not. I'm not sure how the UK or France are affected but practical matters like oil, food, and refugees may be on their minds. As well as the hearts of those in their countries.

Russia did not approve of what happened in Kosovo and has often not seen NATO and UN actions as legitimate. It would be best if they joined NATO as was suggested here:


Other information and questions here:

Has Russia done all it will for Syria?

By Fred Weir - August 29, 2013

Though Russia has long stood by Bashar al-Assad, there is little sense that it will respond militarily if the West attacks Syria.


But they will not give up Syria or Iran, because their relations back in history, go far beyond the last century we base our policies on.

Thanks for explaining that about this law. I can see some reason for it. Things are happening at a much faster rate now, than say, the 1930s with older technologies and nations going to war instead of faction now. It was easier then to find an established authority to negotiate with or to identify as the trouble maker or ally.

Now all we're doing is reacting to nebulous groups that are not state actors, who are like chameleons. They can change their location from one nation to the next, advance, retreat, change names, claim various reasons for their actions. Nothing can be pinned down. It's not as simple as it was in WW2 and it's getting worse.

A question about your statement on lack of Congressional approval, 'If they don't, he has another month to withdraw troops and stop launching missiles.' With a declaration of war or in the language used since Bush to sanitize it, the 'authorization to use force' would be required to have 'boots on the ground' or invasion with an ensuing quagmire, is what happened in Vietnam and Iraq, not Libya. Unless some do regard 'troops' as those on warships and in planes flying overhead?

Those forces will not be coming home as NATO is not going away. I've heard nothing about any more than NATO forces hitting military targets, nothing about invading and occupying Syria. The Iraq parallel fails, the Libyan one is more likely. In and out and then toss it back into the hands of diplomats.

The problem once again, is that a nation with a civil war going on makes it hard to tell who is doing the killing and for what reason, and what it has to do with Assad.

Technically, Assad is the one responsible for all that goes on in Syria, which includes letting the civil war happen to begin with, not having peace within his own nation there. I believe that is what Obama is referring to now, as this is happening 'on his watch' in Syria. I think that's why Turkey and others blame him for de-stabilizing their own nations with his actions.

Don't see how any 'troops' will need to be withdrawn. Unless we intend to leave NATO, and it looks as if, as one poster wrote it, these treaties 'might as well be written in blood' as they were based on the blood the millions:


World War II casualties

American corpses sprawled on the beach of Tarawa. The Marines secured the island after 76 hours of intense fighting with around 6,000 dead in total. The Pacific War claimed the lives of more than 100,000 US military personnel.

That was just from 76 hours of hell. And the American government has not forgotten, nor should it. Many of us would like to forget or believe mankind has changed.

Dead Soviet soldiers, January 1942. Officially, roughly 8.7 million Soviet soldiers died in the course of the war.

Russians have annual parades about the fallen. They have not forgotten, either, nor should they, but they, too, want to go forward with caution.

Killing of Jews at Ivanhorod, Ukraine, 1942. A woman protects a child with her body as Einsatzgruppen soldiers aim their rifles.

Jews world wide have not forgotten that, nor should they, particularly those who settled in the state of Israel. So much came out of WW2 that set up what we're being forced to deal with now.

People who lived during such things, and in truth we are all living in their world as we exist with the relationships that sought to prevent the same, are paranoid or wrong to resist seeing it happen again. Consider:

World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population. The tables below give a detailed country-by-country count of human losses.


A full read of that page is the best explanation of what we are dealing with today. As another poster wrote on DU, that the Cold War (which came out of WW2) never really ended. WW2 created most of what we are living today, both good and evil.

I still see no simple solutions, although my heart wants just as much as it did when as a teen, to stomp my feet and yell 'NO' to war. Those committing war like actions around the world are not about to stop and the reaction to them is not going to stop.

We can only work to change how the world works to prevent wars. We've been fortunate to see the drawn down in Iraq but consequences from that invasion, a true 'war' will continue to ripple throughout the world for decades, just like WW2, as the Wikipedia entry details what Stalin did as a result of the war.



(36,418 posts)
9. There are no emergent circumstances: Congress should demand no US strike w/out AUMF
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 09:50 AM
Aug 2013

The purpose of the War Powers Act is to give the modern President the ability to immediately respond to a nuclear missile attack on the US,not 60 days to carry out some punative raid on some tinpot dictator in a tiny Mideast country.

There should be a full and public examination of all the evidence, and a public debate on how we respond (if at all), before we do anything.

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