Feinstein Says Congress Need Not Vote on Syria

In an interview with TIME, the Intelligence Committee Chair Says Obama is consulting Congress

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Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein spoke to TIME about the ongoing situation in Syria. She said it was important to wait and see what the United Nation’s inspections yield. That team is expected to leave Syria on Saturday. Speaking before the British vote to not participate in any hostilities in Syria, she expressed confidence that Britain would come around. She also said that President Obama has performed adequate consultations with Congress to move forward in Syria, should he chose to do so.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Given the political chaos in the UK right now, should Obama move in Syria without them?

First of all, the decision has not been made to go [at] it at all. The chance we have to make a difference would be with the involvement of several other countries, not just going [at] it alone. It’s a very difficult mission going [at] it alone without boots on the ground. I don’t know what you achieve [with] going [at] it alone without boots on the ground.

But if we have France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, then it doesn’t much matter if we have Britain?

Well, I think the UK makes a difference. I think if the President were to decide to go there’s a very high likelihood that the United Kingdom would be with us.

Can Obama wait? Or does this have to be done before he leaves for Sweden and Russia?

The United Nations’ verification—I think that’s important. The team there, it’s on the ground, it’s at the site and what we’re told is that you cannot disguise or remediate the fact that this has happened, so hair tests, saliva tests, blood tests, ground tests, all of these things should be forthcoming very shortly.

How long can Obama wait on this?

I’m not going to speculate. You know, before you do things which will very likely result in the loss of life, I think it ought to be fully considered. So, I have great respect for how the President is going about this, the time he’s taken, I know the number of consultations that he’s had. I’ve been briefed on the intelligence. There’s another conference call [with members of Congress] this afternoon. And we’ll know more, I think, before he goes.

Is it true that there’s no smoking gun to link Assad to the attack?

I really can’t comment on that.

Should the President wait for Congress to come back in? More than 100 members have signed a letter asking him to seek permission from Congress before he uses force in Syria.

There have been consultations. There will be more consultations. This is not to send troops over, as I understand it. So the answer is not necessarily. I think it would be, if there is not a timeline involved, obviously it would be good to wait, but if time is of the essence that’s decision the Administration has to make. I think there’s ways of doing consultations which is adequate.

12 comments
JoseGonzales
JoseGonzales

Obama is going to think that if the United Nations verify that chemical weapons were used, he will have the green light to strike Syria.


It won't matter who used them.



DasDarkStar
DasDarkStar

Who listens to that Insane communist woman ?

MrObvious
MrObvious

Need too (like legally) or should? I think they should - they've spent decades giving our president the authority to work unilaterally outside the purvey of our congress and regular citizens. Maybe it's time for a better definition of what our executive branch should or shouldn't do as suppose to always wait for a partisan moment to pretend this particular time is different from all the other times.

WimRoffel
WimRoffel

There are already US troops in Jordan.

It looks like the interviewer has some issue with neutrality. After declaring the Security Council dysfunctional because it won't support Obama's belligerence we that now also the English parliament has been declared in "political chaos" for the same reason.

AminSan
AminSan

Diane Feinstein has zero credibility. She is the one who said that the NSA doesn't spy on us and that she is fully on board with what they do. The Democrats need to find someone else to head the intelligence committee.

Just yesterday she said that she had been briefed on Syria and has no doubt that the administration has a solid case. Even the President doesn't say that.

SovereignMary
SovereignMary

Diane Feinstein needs to be placed in a white coat with arms that tie around the back!!! Better yet - how about giving her shock treatments to see if it can awaken the sacred oath of office that she made a covenant and contract to uphold!

jmac
jmac

Britain's a no-go.   Time to clamor for Freedom muffins.   Freedom peas?    Freedom fish and chips?  

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Jay. I'm all for caution here. Kudos to the British parliament for showing restraint, by the way. Whether or not Cameron will listen or just say, Oh sod off, I'm launching attacks anyway (hope Catherine Mayer and you can explore this). However, here with Feinstein, YOU nailed her with the key question - 

Is it true that there’s no smoking gun to link Assad to the attack?

I really can’t comment on that.

Unless she is legally bound by secrecy laws not to disclose, she can comment, so why the stonewalling? Does she know or not? That is the critical issue - chemical weapons were used, but who launched them? That is what's hanging me up here. If Assad ordered the attacks he violated international law and thus deserves punishment ...though alas, what is the best solution is the thorny problem. What a mess.


JoseGonzales
JoseGonzales

@DasDarkStar She is one of the biggest opponents to marijuana legalization so apparently anyone who doesn't want to be hung up to dry listens to her.

jmac
jmac

@SovereignMary  Right.  Then put a Republican in the presidency and bomb bomb bomb Iran.   Then we can follow that sacred oath of office Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfie,  etc.  took when they followed Curveball and Chalabi to the path for glory. 

Bush in his State of the Union:  "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."   Forgetting that that had been taken out of a previous speech for being untrue and that Condi's aide had to take the blame for it being put in the SOU to sell the war.   -----       That would be the British Government who got caught red-handed with the Downing Street memos.   Cooking the books.  Tsk tsk. That's okay - now they can play high and mighty as France joins with us.  


deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@jmac 

I hope we don't go down that anti-French Freedom Fries thing again with the British. Freedom toast and Freedom kissing didn't pan out so well last time.

shekissesfrogs
shekissesfrogs

@deconstructiva It's not the UN's job to dish out punishment after the fact, with bombs for an internal matter, or if your guerrillas are losing the civil war you've sponsored. That's the job of courts.