Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 4, 2013

Local lawmakers: Review of Syria facts needed

CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WASHINGTON — Area lawmakers say they will review all of the facts and intelligence available before making a decision regarding a possible military strike on Syria.

Both U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., canceled scheduled events in their respective states Tuesday to return to Washington and participate in hearings regarding Syria in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The decision to authorize the use of U.S. military force and weapons is one of the most difficult that a country can make, and is not one that should be made without all the available facts or without the consultation of Congress,” Manchin said. “I am pleased that the president decided to seek congressional approval before striking Syria. Beginning Tuesday, I will be suspending all events I had scheduled in West Virginia to return to Washington to attend briefings with the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees and with administration officials to ensure I have all the facts and intelligence available to me before the Senate begins debate on the authorization of force.”

Kaine, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, said he too was glad Obama opted to seek congressional approval before acting on Syria.

“Our nation is stronger in military matters when we act in a united fashion,” Kaine said. “The opportunity to fully debate this difficult situation will help educate the American public about the important issues at stake and ultimately provide a political consensus that our service members must be able to rely on.”

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government may demand a response.

“I do not want to see our nation drawn into yet another costly, open-ended military conflict, however, the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons demands response,” Rahall said. “It should be a justified, proportional strike against sites of high value from which the chemical warfare was launched.  It has to be very limited in scope with no boots on the ground. Any Congressional authorization for the use of military force must adhere to the Constitution and ensure we are not giving the president a blank check.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said it is important for the debate on Syria to not break down along typical partisan lines.

 “The decision about whether or not to use military force in response to the Syrian atrocities raises significant issues that should be considered and debated by Congress,” Warner said. “This debate will help define how America views its role as a world power. The tone that we use while having this discussion also is vitally important. These are issues that should not break down along typical partisan lines, and the debate will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that America’s elected leadership can come together to resolve serious issues. People across the country and indeed around the world will be watching closely as the world’s greatest democracy debates, and then decides, these important questions.”

– Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com