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Officials: Obama should get approval
Before military action in Syria

Friday, August 30, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin staff writer

The area’s congressional representatives say it is crucial that President Barack Obama work with Congress and get its authorization before taking any military action in Syria.

According to an Associated Press report, the United Nations is investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria as the United States and allies prepare for the possibility of a punitive strike against President Bashar Assad’s regime, blamed by the Syrian opposition for the attack. The international aid group Doctors Without Borders has said at least 355 people were killed in the Aug. 21 attack.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., stated in a release: “I strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons and indiscriminate killing of Syrian civilians by the Assad regime and believe we must respond with our allies to ensure such an attack does not happen again.

“The president has been very prudent over the last couple of years despite calls for military intervention, but if he chooses to pursue military action now, he should do so in full consultation with Congress, including authorization before or shortly after any strike is initiated. When you get Congress on board, you have the best chance of getting the American public’s support and you send a message to those we are asking to fight, including many Virginians, that the full weight of our political leadership is behind them.”

According to a release from Kevin Hall, communications director for Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the senator wants to ensure that the United States does not become involved in Syria’s civil war.

“The use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, including many women and children, was a despicable and flagrant violation of international law. It is appropriate that the president (Barack Obama) is consulting with the congressional leadership as the administration’s national security team reviews America’s options,” the statement read.

“Sen. Warner believes that any U.S. response needs to be carefully calibrated to make sure the U.S. does not become drawn into Syria’s civil war. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he will continue to closely monitor this situation,” the statement added.

Area U.S. Reps. Robert Hurt, R-5th District, and Morgan Griffith, R-9th District, also stressed the need for congressional authorization before any actions against Syria are taken by the president.

“The recent tragedies in Syria have been devastating,” Hurt stated in a release. “Details regarding what transpired last week continue to surface, and once we have all of the information, we should evaluate the situation and act accordingly. In the meantime, it’s imperative that the president consult with Congress to receive Congressional authorization prior to any military action being taken.”

Griffith stated in a release: “I am not keen on U.S. military intervention in Syria without a clearly defined objective. Furthermore, before the president initiates any military action, I believe congressional authorization is required.”

Griffith has sent a letter to the president, signed by more than 100 members of the House, including Hurt, urging the President to get that authorization before using military force in Syria.

The letter reads in part: “Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.”


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