Kerry Confirms Sarin Gas Used in Syria, Says 'America's Credibility on the Line'
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday with more insight on the pending use of military action in Syria. “The fact is that yesterday, we have now learned that hair and blood samples that have come to us from east Damascus from individuals who were engaged as first responders, […] they have tested positive for signatures of sarin.”
President Obama announced on Saturday that he would wait for Congress to vote on taking military action against President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons on civilians. His announcement came as a surprise after Secretary Kerry and President Obama’s previous statements that the regime must be held accountable.
Today, Secretary Kerry told Wallace that the president believes the United States is “stronger” when the American people and Congress support this decision. He also said that he doesn’t believe Congress will vote against taking action, and stated that “America’s credibility is on the line.”
“I think people should be celebrating that the president is in fact not moving unilaterally, that he’s honoring the request that he heard from many people in Congress to consult and be engaged with them.”
He said the Assad regime is already on the defensive and is being “significantly impacted” by the potential of these strikes. “We do not lose anything, we actually gain, and what we gain is the legitimacy of the full throated response of the Congress of the United States and the president acting together after our democratic process has worked properly.”
Wallace challenged, “But Mr. Secretary, this isn’t CSI, this isn’t a civics lesson. People's lives are at stake – I don’t have to tell you – on the ground in Syria. In your remarks on Friday, you said that this matters and it matters beyond the borders of Syria.”
The Fox News Sunday host asked what message the U.S. is sending to Iran and Hezbollah when the president says he thinks we should take military action, but that he’s going to wait nine days for Congress to return from vacation, and then he plays a round of golf immediately after.
Kerry responded that North Korea and Iran should “take note” that the U.S. has the confidence in its democratic process to ask its people to join in making a decision that can have profound implications regarding a possible confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program. “The fact is if we act, and we act in concert, then Iran will know that this nation is capable of speaking with one voice.”
By waiting, he said, “We do not lose anything militarily."
Wallace pressed Secretary Kerry on the need for Congress’s approval, citing Ronald Reagan in Libya and Bill Clinton in Kosovo acting unilaterally.
“Actually, Chris, at the very instant the planes were in the air in Kosovo, there was a vote in the House of Representatives and the vote didn’t carry. So the truth is the president would have loved to have had the support of Congress,” Kerry said. “I’m amazed that you would argue against the Congress of the United States weighing in when in fact already Assad is on the defensive.”
Wallace asked Kerry to respond to the Syrian media declaring victory after President Obama made his announcement. Kerry maintained, “The president wants to stand up and make certain that we uphold the international norm, that we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people.”
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