a few more pieces to this Syrian lack of transparency, or are inability to process all in real time. Congressman Peter DeFazio sheds a few more interesting points..
Dear Mrs. Lincoln:
Thanks for your message opposing U.S. military involvement in Syria. We are in complete agreement. I oppose U.S. military intervention in Syria and strongly believe a diplomatic solution remains possible.
I've participated in conference calls and briefings with Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, and the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Throughout these briefings I was looking for a clear purpose and an achievable objective behind even a limited military strike. I think that even a limited operation focused on deterring the further use of chemical weapons is risky and could lead to unintended consequences such as another protracted war in the Middle East.
I recently came across a letter dated July 19th from General Martin Dempsey to Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. You can view the letter here. This communication was sent prior to the August 21st chemical weapons attack and he went into great detail about the risks and difficulties of various military options in dealing with Syria. He explicitly stated that in order for the U.S. to gain control of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile it would require a minimum of a no-fly zone as well as U.S. ground forces. He also stated there is a good chance that extremists could get a hold of the stockpile if the U.S. did not obtain complete control of the chemical weapons. Even General Dempsey realizes a limited strike could be ineffective and potentially cause more problems.
The use of chemical weapons by any country against their own civilians is morally reprehensible. Our response should begin with stronger engagement with the international community and the United Nations Security Council. The Obama Administration and Congress should show patience and carefully assess any recommendations made by the U.N. including a possible chemical weapons disarmament plan put forth by Russia, the U.S., and our allies. I've also cosponsored a bipartisan resolution introduced by Rep. Chris Smith that encourages the U.N. to establish an international tribunal and try all those responsible for war crimes in Syria, including those responsible for the chemical weapons attacks. Additionally, the U.S. and other countries should provide humanitarian aid to the ongoing refugee crisis.
Congress must also continue to provide robust oversight of U.S. involvement – diplomatic, military, and political – in Syria. As a co-equal branch of the federal government, it is imperative that Congress stand up and defend its war powers granted in the Constitution by our nation's founders. When President Obama first announced he was considering military action against Syria, I quickly joined my colleagues by signing a bipartisan letter led by Rep. Scott Rigell urging him to consult with Congress before taking any action.
While I'm pleased that the President said he would come to Congress for a vote on this issue, I'm very disturbed by his statements that regardless of whether or not Congress passes a resolution authorizing military force in Syria that he does not need Congressional approval and has the authority to act on his own. Therefore, I introduced legislation, H.J.Res.60 strengthening the War Powers Act. My legislation would make clear that in these cases prior authorization from Congress is required.
You can be sure that I will continue to oppose policies in the U.S. House of Representatives that move the United States closer to another war in the Middle East or undermine our ability to aggressively pursue diplomatic, peaceful solutions to conflicts in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. As this situation progresses further, I will follow up with you.
Again, thanks for your message. Please stay in touch.
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON