Sept. 3 - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins hearings on the Obama administration's request for the authorization for use of military force in Syria. Nathan Frandino reports.
As the Obama administration picks up the support of key House leaders such as John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, his top cabinet members are facing questions in one of the first hearings on using military force in Syria. Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked to clarify whether or not to include the option for troops on the ground in President Obama's draft resolution. Kerry originally didn't want to remove the option, citing the potential threat of chemical weapons falling into the hands of extremists. But he closed that option, calling it a hypothetical. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "The answer is, whatever prohibition clarifies it to Congress or the American people, there will not be American boots on the ground with respect to the civil war." Members asked that Kerry, along with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, define Syria's importance to U.S. interests, and the strategy the military would use. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "This authorization is a limited, targeted effort to focus on deterring and degrading the chemical weapons capacity of the Assad regime." Kerry and Hagel both conveyed the same message throughout the hearing that the consequences of inaction far outweigh the consequences of action. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL SAYING: "A refusal to act would undermine the credibility of America's other security commitments, including the president's commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The word of the United States must mean something." The committee is expected to vote on the resolution this week.