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Congressman Alan Grayson: Congress Should Reject Warmongering On Syria

The progressive Democrat from Florida is spearheading the opposition to an attack on Syria.
 
 
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U.S. Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) testifies at a hearing.
Photo Credit: House Committee on Education and the Workforce/Flickr

 
 
 
 

This transcript is from Democracy Now!'s September 5 broadcast.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Obama’s effort to win legislative backing for military strikes against Syria passed its first hurdle on Wednesday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10 to seven in favor of bombing Syria. The Senate resolution sets a 60-day limit on any engagement in Syria, with a possible 30-day extension to deter that government’s use and degrade its capacity to use chemical weapons. Under the bill, it would become U.S. policy to, quote, "change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria." Democrat Tom Udall was one of seven senators who voted against the resolution.

SEN. TOM UDALL: I’m voting no because this policy moves the United States towards greater involvement in the Syrian civil war and an increasing regional conflict. This is a very complicated sectarian civil war. Some of the rebels share our values and want an open society. Many others are allied with al-Qaeda and a greater threat to the United States than President Assad ever was. U.S. military involvement, no matter the limits at this point, will likely only pull us towards greater involvement, and with no clear endgame.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Democratic Senator Tom Udall of [New Mexico]. The other votes against the military resolution came from Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut and five Republicans: James Risch of Idaho, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and John Barrasso of Wyoming, Rand Paul also of Kentucky. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts voted present.

Meanwhile, antiwar activists with the group CodePink staged a protest during the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing Wednesday. Members of the group waved red-stained hands behind Secretary of State John Kerry’s head as he testified. The protest went on for hours and was televised around the world.

During a news conference, President Obama urged the international community to respond to the chemical attack in Syria.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line, and America and Congress’s credibility is on the line, because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Obama arrived in Russia today for the G-20 summit. The United Nations announced today Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy in Syria, is on his way to Saint Petersburg to try to revive flagging efforts to convene an international peace conference in Geneva.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal has revealed new details about the Pentagon’s plan to attack Syria. In addition to using Navy destroyers armed with missiles in the eastern Mediterranean, the Pentagon is now planning to use Air Force bombers.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with Democratic Congressmember Alan Grayson of Florida, member of the House Foreign [Affairs] Committee. In a moment he’ll join us from Capitol Hill, but first this is Congressman Grayson questioning Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at Wednesday’s hearing about—well, regarding the Syrian chemical attack.

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: Secretary Hagel, there’s been a report in the media that the administration has mischaracterized post-attack Syrian military communications and that these communications actually express surprise about the attack. This is a very serious charge. Can you please release the original transcripts so that the American people can make their own judgment about that important issue?

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: What transcripts are you referring to?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: The transcripts that were reported that took place after the attack in which the government has suggested that they confirmed the existence of an attack, but actually it’s been reported that Syrian commanders expressed surprise about the attack having taken place, not confirmed it.

 
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