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.