Support for President Obama’s call for military airstrikes in Syria is sliding on Capitol HIll.

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Support for President Obama’s call for military airstrikes in Syria is sliding on Capitol HIll.

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s push for congressional approval for military airstrikes in Syria ran aground Monday, forcing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to delay a procedural vote as opposition builds among senators in both parties.

Six senators, including five Republicans and one Democrat, announced Monday they would vote against a resolution authorizing the use of force — a strong indication that the administration’s efforts to build bipartisan support have been ineffective.

The Senate was scheduled to vote Wednesday on a procedural motion to begin formal debate on the resolution, but Reid announced late Monday the vote would be delayed in order to buy the president more time to make his case to senators and the public.

“What we need to do is make sure the president has the opportunity to speak to all 100 senators and all 300 million American people before we do this,” Reid said.

The delay also came amid reports that Russia was seeking a deal with Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program. Obama said in television interviews Monday such a deal could circumvent the need for U.S. military intervention, but senators had not been briefed on the development and expressed skepticism.

“I have no idea what’s going on. It’d be great if the Russians could convince Assad to turn over his chemical weapons to the international community. That’d be a terrific outcome. I just am very dubious and skeptical,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Comments made Monday in London by Secretary of State John Kerry describing the military effort as “unbelievably small” also rankled lawmakers. Graham said Kerry “undercut everything the president has been doing for the last couple of days” to build support.

The rapid clip of senators announcing their opposition on Monday raised serious doubts that the president would be able to muster the necessary support in either the House or Senate. The GOP-led House is not likely to take up a resolution unless the Senate can pass it first. A final Senate vote was expected this weekend, but Reid’s decision to delay the formal debate puts the schedule in flux.

Five GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Mike Enzi of Wyoming all announced opposition Monday, as did Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Briefings by top administration officials and a weekend conversation with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were not enough to sway Alexander. “I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict,” he said.

Heitkamp was the latest in a string of Democratic senators from conservative states to come out in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. Heitkamp and Manchin are working on an alternative resolution that would give the Assad government 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban and begin turning over its chemical weapons before authorizing U.S. military action.

Two Democratic senators, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, declared their support. However, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who voted for the resolution in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, cautioned Monday that he preferred pursuing diplomatic solutions.

The opposition underscored the uphill battle Obama faces on Capitol Hill to rally around his foreign policy agenda. The president will visit separately with Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans on Tuesday before his prime-time television address.

Graham, who supports the resolution, said he believed it could still pass the Senate: “If the president does a good job tomorrow night, yes.”

Obama’s plan for Syria: Bungling, Reckless, Lunacy all Around.

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Obama’s plan: Bungling, reckless, lunacy all around.

By Mario Murillo

First read just a smattering of quotes from around the nation about Obama’s resolution on Syria that is before the Congress:

Arizona congressman Matt Salmon’s constituents have called his office 500 times about Syria, he tells National Review Online in an interview, but only two callers have expressed support for intervening there. “This is not hyperbole!” he says emphatically.

And Salmon himself is firmly against authorizing a strike. “I don’t see any national-security imperative for our country at all. Both sides in this equation are bad actors.” He also notes that Obama has been unable to form an international coalition and hasn’t laid out an overall objective for a missile strike. “Other than saving face for the president, I don’t understand what we would be doing,” he says.

Ann coulter: “Why is Congress even having a vote? This is nothing but a fig leaf to cover Obama’s own idiotic “red line” ultimatum to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on chemical weapons. The Nobel Peace Prize winner needs to get Congress on the record so that whatever happens, the media can blame Republicans.

Washington Post: “Senate-crafted Syria resolution riddled with loopholes for Obama.  Allows boots on the ground.  The resolution drafted by Sens. Robert Menendez and Bob Corker, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, grants Mr. Obama power “to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria” — but only in relation to that nation’s weapons of mass destruction.”

Daily Mail:  “That it will take 75,000 troops Revealed: “Pentagon knew in 2012 that it would take 75,000 GROUND TROOPS to secure Syria’s chemical weapons facilities.”

Rand Paul: “Why I am voting no.  War should occur only when America is attacked, when it is threatened or when American interests are attacked or threatened. I don’t think the situation in Syria passes that test. Even the State Department argues that “there’s no military solution here that’s good for the Syrian people, and that the best path forward is a political solution.”

By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Foreign Staff : “Even if Obama – with or without congressional approval – orders U.S. warships in the Mediterranean to loose retaliatory strikes against the Syrian regime, the limited operation, which U.S. officials say wouldn’t be aimed at toppling Assad, may do little to restore Washington’s credibility. Moreover, they could carry significant costs for the security of the United States and its allies, experts said.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I just have to speak out on this resolution to go to war with Syria.  That is correct, it is a resolution to go to war that could very likely involve 75,000 of our troops in a war with no clear goal, battle plan or clear picture of how it can escalate.  By waiting, waffling, and deflecting Obama has created a situation that has no good outcome for the United States.

No one can look in their hearts and see how this resolution that is riddled with loopholes can be given to a leader so lacking any skill whatsoever to conduct war on behalf of the United States.  Call your Congressman today.  Pray fervently that this disastrous resolution is rejected.

Assad must be deposed but we must go in united and strong and clear in our purpose.  Something that cannot be done with this president leading this nation this way.

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NO SYRIAN WAR JUST TO SAVE OBAMA’S FACE.

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NO SYRIAN WAR TO SAVE OBAMA’S FACE!

Pat Buchanan: Why don’t Turkey and Israel man up and strike Assad?

“Catastrophic!” said Sen. John McCain.

If Congress votes no on a resolution calling for U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war, says McCain, it would be “catastrophic” for U.S. credibility in the world.

Consider what the senator is saying here.

Because Barack Obama, two years ago, said “Assad must go,” and, one year ago, said any use of chemical weapons crosses his “red line,” Congress has no choice but to plunge America into yet another Mideast war.

Can this be? Are we really, as a nation, required to go to war to make good the simple-minded statements of an untutored president who had no constitutional authority to issue his impulsive ultimata?

Are we really required to go to war to get the egg off Obama’s face?

Not since the War of Jenkins’ Ear has there been a dumber cause for a great country to go to war. Is there no way out?

There is, and it’s right in front of us.

The House, Senate or both can vote no on the war resolution, and Obama can then say, as did David Cameron, that, while he disagrees, he respects the decision of a Congress in which the Constitution placed sole authority to authorize America’s going to war.

Are Brits now crying “catastrophe!”? Do the Spanish no longer think the Brits will defend Gibraltar? Is Britain now wholly non-credible to the world?

For Obama, and for us, it is the other options that invite catastrophe.

If, for example, the House or Senate votes down the war resolution and Obama, without authorization from Congress, the Security Council, NATO or the Arab League plunges us into a new war this nation does not want to fight, he will be courting a geostrategic and political disaster.

Even if Congress approves a war resolution, the president should think long and hard about diving into a war he sought to avoid and stayed out of for over two years. Make no mistake; if Obama attacks Syria, be it for hours or days, we are in that blood-soaked abattoir for the duration.

In his dramatic statement Saturday, as politically astute as it was constitutionally correct, Obama called Syria “someone else’s war.”

Whose war? It is Shia Alawite vs. Sunni, Muslim vs. Christian, Kurd vs. Arab, Islamist vs. secularist. Backing Bashar Assad are Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. Backing the rebels are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, al-Qaida, foreign jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

Assad is accused of killing 100,000 people. But that is the total of the dead in a civil war Assad has as much right to fight as the rebels. While his army is accused of using gas on civilians, the Islamist rebels have murdered Christians, massacred captives and engaged in public acts of cannibalism on dead Syrian soldiers.

Gas is a sickening weapon. Yet, there is no evidence thus far that Assad ordered its use. Rebel elements are said to have been found with sarin. As for Americans who tend to prefer white phosphorus, napalm and cluster bombs, upon what lofty moral ground do we stand?

Have we forgotten that Churchill wanted to drop anthrax on Germany and settled for two days of firebombing the defenseless city of Dresden? Or that our great friend Anwar Sadat was the confidante of Gamal Abdel Nasser when Egypt was using poison gas on Yemeni tribesmen?

The United States does not have any national security interest in Syria’s war. Why would we then launch missile attacks to “degrade” Assad’s military, when that army and air force are all that stands between us and a privileged sanctuary for al-Qaida in northern Syria, not unlike what al-Qaida had in Tora Bora and Waziristan.

We are told that if we do not strike Syria – making good on Obama’s threats – Israel, Turkey and even Japan and South Korea will not be able to trust us ever again.

What nonsense. We have treaties with Japan and South Korea. As for Turkey and Israel, if what is happening in Syria is outrageous and dangerous, why do they not act? Why do they keep tugging at our sleeve?

The Israeli Air force is five minutes from Damascus, its army a two-day march. The Turks have three times Syria’s population and a 400,000-man army equipped with NATO weapons. Together, they could invade and turn the tide in a week. Why do they not man up?

McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham came out of the Oval Office saying Obama was open to wider strikes on Syria and more lethal support for the rebels. As Iran, Hezbollah and Russia would then upgrade their own weapons shipments to Damascus, this will mean more dead, more wounded, more tens of thousands fleeing into exile and a longer war.

But what it will likely end with, after America is dragooned in, is a U.S. war with Iran; our allies, sitting in their box seats, cheering us on.

And that is the dog you will not hear bark in the war-on-Syria debate.

ABC News:Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference

Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference

Jonathan KarlBy Jonathan Karl
May 10, 2013 6:33am

When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before sheappeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

gty benghazi dm 130425 wblog Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror ReferenceAFP/Getty Images

 

White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department.  The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community.  They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012.  “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Summaries of White House and State Department emails — some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:

“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya.  These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?  Concerned …”

The paragraph was entirely deleted.

Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”  The draft went on to specifically name  the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.

 

Once again, Nuland objected to naming the terrorist groups because “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.”

In response, an NSC staffer coordinating the review of the talking points wrote back to Nuland, “The FBI did not have major concerns with the points and offered only a couple minor suggestions.”

After the talking points were edited slightly to address Nuland’s concerns, she responded that changes did not go far enough.

“These changes don’t resolve all of my issues or those of my buildings leadership,” Nuland wrote.

In an email dated 9/14/12 at 9:34 p.m. — three days after the attack and two days before Ambassador Rice appeared on the Sunday shows – Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote an email saying the State Department’s concerns needed to be addressed.

“We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.  We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.”

 

After that meeting, which took place Saturday morning at the White House, the CIA drafted the final version of the talking points – deleting all references to al Qaeda and to the security warnings in Benghazi prior to the attack.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said none of this contradicts what he said about the talking points because ultimately all versions were actually written and signed-off by the CIA.

“The CIA drafted these talking points and redrafted these talking points,” Carney said. “The fact that there are inputs is always the case in a process like this, but the only edits made by anyone here at the White House were stylistic and nonsubstantive. They corrected the description of the building or the facility in Benghazi from consulate to diplomatic facility and the like. And ultimately, this all has been discussed and reviewed and provided in enormous levels of detail by the administration to Congressional investigators, and the attempt to politicize the talking points, again, is part of an effort to, you know, chase after what isn’t the substance here.”

UPDATE:  A source familiar with the White House emails on the Benghazi talking point revisions say that State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland was raising two concerns about the CIA’s first version of talking points, which were going to be sent to Congress:  1) The talking points went further than what she was allowed to say about the attack during her state department briefings; and, 2) she believed the CIA was attempting to exonerate itself at the State Department’s expense by suggesting CIA warnings about the security situation were ignored.

In one email, Nuland asked, why are we suggest Congress “start making assertions to the media [about the al Qaeda connection] that we ourselves are not making because we don’t want to prejudice the investigation?”

One other point:  The significant edits – deleting references to al Qaeda and the CIA’s warnings – came after a White House meeting on the Saturday before Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday shows.  Nuland, a 30-year foreign service veteran who has served under Democratic and Republican Secretaries of State, was not at that meeting and played no direct role in preparing Rice for her interviews.

Benghazi is our national litmus test to see if we deserve to remain a free nation

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A few weeks ago Obama gave a graduation speech in which he told students that the idea that their government would be guilty of tyranny was absurd and that they had no reason to fear their government.   Now, he has given all us of the proof that we need that he acted with tyranny in sacrificing 4 Americans in Benghazi in order to protect his reelection.  The first question you must ask yourself is this…”what else is he willing to do to protect his power?”

He has vilified gun rights as we know them and has now become a poster child for why we need the Second Amendment.  He has shown us that in all prudence we must use our remaining rights to protect ourselves from him.

Jay Carney said that “Benghazi was a long time ago.”  Imagine how that sounded to the four families who lost loved ones in that embassy inferno?   He said that an independent council had reviewed the events in Benghazi and given them a clean bill of health.  The problem is they never spoke to the ranking diplomat in Benghazi who was most aware of all of the events.

Where was Obama during those eight hours of attack?  Why were rescuers told to stand down?  How could they blame the attack on an anti-Muslim video for two weeks after they had proof it had nothing to do with the terrorist attack?  How could they threaten and excoriate those brave leaders who tried to talk to congress?

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Hillary Clinton is equally guilty of lying and covering up the truth.  She is not fit to lead this nation and has given us fair warning that her presidency would be more of the same cronyism, duplicity, arrogance and incompetence of the current administration.

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Your blood should be boiling over Benghazi.  If it is not, then you are probably the victim of the other heinous villain of Benghazi: The American Media.  Their breathtaking betrayal will also live in infamy.  How can the Washington Press Corps live with their cowardice and compromise?

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How is it possible for them to lay claim to the noble profession that tediously and relentlessly tracked down the crimes of Watergate when they are acting like belching lap dogs for Obama.  They refuse to face facts; they refuse to ask the hard questions.  They will do whatever they have to do to insulate a man that has shown nothing but contempt for them!

What makes you want to pull your hair out is that we do not know why.  Why Obama is allowed a pass for these crimes?  Why is there no groundswell of outrage from the general public?

We have all been horrified by the events in Cleveland where three girls were held hostage for 10 years in a basement.  How could this be we wonder?  Can any man be that skilled to hide three girls in his house for ten years?  Then we come to realize that someone had to know and simply did not act.

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It is the same here.  You and I cannot say that we did not know what this president did with our rights.  We cannot say Obama kept it from us. Benghazi is our national litmus test to see if we deserve to remain a free nation.  If we fail to find the rage, the love of liberty and the clear sense of how wrong Benghazi is, then we declaring ourselves unworthy of freedom.

I am first and last a man of Faith who believes in a loving God who is all powerful.  It is in this faith that I make this declaration: God has His vessels out there and it is time for them to roar.