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Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18) issued a joint statement earlier today in which they listed a number of key questions that the White House will have to answer substantively and openly. Both had previously signed onto Rep. Scott Rigell's letter calling on Obama to seek congressional authorization, and Rep. Lofgren also signed Rep. Barbara Lee's letter as well. Both letters called for a healthy debate, and Lofgren and Eshoo seem prepared for such a debate.

SAN JOSE, CA – Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) released the following joint statement today regarding Congress and the potential authorization of U.S. military action in Syria:

We are pleased that President Obama will seek Congressional authorization before engaging in any military hostilities against Syria.

That authorization is legally and constitutionally required – the President cannot legally act alone without the U.S. Congress. This construct is part of the genius of our nation's democratic system and our Constitutional checks and balances.

We welcome the opportunity to listen to the facts of this matter in the most public forum. While a review of the evidence, both classified and unclassified, as to the use of chemical is important, we are already inclined to believe that these horrific weapons were used based on public and social media accounts. We believe that the question before the U.S. Congress is not "can the Obama Administration prove that the Syrian government used chemical weapons?" Rather, the paramount question is, if that is true, "what is the best course for the United States to take, and why?"

Here are just a few of the questions that are at the heart of what Congress must debate as we and our colleagues determine the best course for the United States to take:

• What role should the United States play in enforcing international treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons?

• International treaties are frequently violated by various nations. What precedent does it set if the United States acts in this case? Will the U.S. be placed in a position where we must respond whenever treaties are seriously violated? If not, why?

• Civilian massacres have occurred in other countries without U.S. military intervention and are occurring today in Egypt, for example. Would action in Syria set a precedent for action in other parts of the world? If not, why not?

• Should the U.S. take action when international bodies, including the UN and NATO, have declined to do so?

• Should the U.S. take action when the United Nations has asked that we not do so?

• Should the U.S. act when other nations decline to participate with our country in taking such action, including Great Britain? Arab nations?

• If action is taken by the United States what impact will it have on the future behavior of the Assad regime? On what basis are we concluding that Syria will change its behavior based on a U.S. attack on Syrian targets?

• If the U.S. attack is limited in scope and time, what message will that give to Syria as well as other nations such as Iran? If the action is protracted in scope and time, what are the potential costs in American lives and U.S. taxpayer dollars? For U.S. prestige in the world and in the Middle East?

• How would U.S. military action against Syria make the American people safer? The Syrian people? The people of Israel?

• If a U.S. attack assists the rebels in overthrowing the Assad regime, who takes over in Syria? If the Assad regime falls, will further civil war ensue between competing rebel factions? What role will Al Qaeda play?

• The Syrian civil war is also a proxy war for other powers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and other non-state actors such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. What impact would U.S. action have on these other actors?

• Will the unrest in Syria spread in the region if the U.S. acts? If the U.S. does not act?

• What impact would U.S. action have on our closest ally in the region, Israel? Would a U.S. attack on Syria lead to retaliatory attacks against Israel or others? What will the reaction of Israel be in that case? What U.S. action would then be required?

• If our country decides that some action by the U.S. is required, what should that action be? Should further diplomatic efforts, as opposed to military action, be considered? Are there feasible sanctions that could be put in place? Other actions?

• If military action is proposed, what are the targets, the scope and the cost? What is expected to be accomplished and how will that serve the interests of the United States? Syria? The Middle East? The World?

• What is our strategy for Syria (and for the Middle East generally) and how would military action support or damage that strategy?

• If the Assad regime, or even the rebels, were to engage in actions that appear to violate international treaties including the use of chemical weapons in the future what action would the U.S. take? What would be the consequences of further action or inaction in such a case in terms of spread of war, entanglement of the U.S. in the Syrian civil war, U.S. reputation around the world, and the perception of American strength and resolve by Iran and North Korea? To what extent is the U.S. "painting ourselves into a corner" by attacking Syria now? Will that force us to attack again in response to further violations? If not, why?

• What impact would U.S. military action have on relations between Russia and our country? What are the short and long term implications for Russia and the U.S., including efforts to continue the reduction of nuclear arms by our two nations?

• What are the possible adverse results of U.S. military action in Syria? What steps have been taken to address those potential adverse impacts? What is the "end game?"

We hope the Congressional debate will be carried out at the highest level, with the result that the United States acts, or does not act, after the most deliberative consideration. In that regard, we ask the President to make his case in the light of public scrutiny, not by "classified" briefings that are kept from the American people and which Members of Congress are prohibited from discussing publicly. This debate will have its needed effect only if it is fully transparent.

We pledge to our constituents and fellow Americans that we will carefully weigh the facts and options that face the United States at this juncture. We look forward to debating and hearing answers to these questions, and other relevant ones that may emerge, as we examine the facts and further hear from our constituents on this very serious issue facing our country.

(Emphasis added)

The AUMF, as currently drafted by the White House, is incredibly broad. I hope that the White House will take the upcoming debate seriously---far more so than it has taken the debate about surveillance.

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Comment Preferences

  •  a good set of questions and I posted it on FB (4+ / 0-)

    to get this even more attention.

    without the ants the rainforest dies

    by aliasalias on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 10:32:49 PM PDT

  •  I think I missed the question of what are the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nospinicus

    possible consequences for the use of chemical and biological weapons if the US does not act?  Will other countries use chemical or biological weapons now that they know no one will stop them?

    Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 10:35:20 PM PDT

    •  Oh for heavens sake. How many years has it been (8+ / 0-)

      since Iraq, with our knowledge, our intelligence and our tacit permission, killed thousands of Iranians with chemical weapons?  Thousands upon thousands.

      Have other countries been using them everywhere ever since?  No, they have not.

      Maybe that answers the question.  If the nations of the world didn't rise up and start gassing people everywhere after that horror on a massive scale, why would they when an evil and reviled dictator uses them on his own people?

      By the way, the USA didn't intervene in the massacres in Rwanda, the Congo or the Sudan. Are we worried France or Japan or even Lebanon are going to start slaughtering their people with machetes? Of course not.

      In other words: Guess what? Other countries of the world have morals and standards too. Those morals and standards exist aside from whatever position the USA has.

      They don't all just automatically behave themselves out of fear of the USA.  

      And evil reviled dictators are evil reviled dictators. They never care what the USA is going to do (Mubarak, Qaddafi, Hussein, Assad, etc, etc, etc).

      This thinking that the USA sets the standards for all the world is born of a very self-centric view.  (And by the way, if that is the case, we can expect black prisons, torture, kidnapping, drone strikes, extrajudicial killings, wars of aggression, invasions, and concentration camps like Gitmo all over the world very soon.)

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 10:57:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mubarak, Qaddafi, Hussein (2+ / 0-)
        And evil reviled dictators are evil reviled dictators. They never care what the USA is going to do (Mubarak, Qaddafi, Hussein, Assad, etc, etc, etc).
        Each one was allied with the U.S. at some point. Interesting isn't it?

        "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

        by Sagebrush Bob on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 11:30:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't disagree. And that is the bigger question (0+ / 0-)

        for me is why should we care enough to take military action and likely get involved in yet another war.  If we are okay with the use of chemical and or biological weapons why do we even get to the question of should we.  After all we have the largest and most efficient chemical and biological weapons and its a very inexpensive way both in blood and treasure to use.  Probably deploy them by drones so its a win/win for us.  

        Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

        by thestructureguy on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 07:44:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  not a matter of "if we're OK with chem weapons" (0+ / 0-)

          It is a matter of: Is there any course of action that will IMPROVE the situation or will we just impose even more misery on the Syrian people?

          •  Again, I don't disagree. But what is your course (0+ / 0-)

            of action to improve the situation and what do you mean by improve?  I'm not asking to be a smart ass.  Really want to know how to solve this issue.  Otherwise every-time someone gets away with using chems it makes it easier to use them again. If we are not willing to make stand against chems no matter who used them it sends a message that could result in an escalation of chem or biological usage.

            Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

            by thestructureguy on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 09:19:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  It's thier job (0+ / 0-)

    To get the necessary briefings and come up with a desicion. Not that easy right. This is useless as far as I am concerned. If you don't think it's in our interest to go to Syria then grow some backbone and vote no.

  •  Should we violate international law (0+ / 0-)

    to enforce international law?

    Or must we get U.N. approval before acting?

    •  Another factor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i dunno

      Is there actually anything we can do that will IMPROVE the situation?

      It is self-defeating to just "take action" on account of "principle" and in doing so make the Syrian civil war even more tangled and the people even more damaged.

      Anytime one engages in military action, one must ask:

      What is the realistic outcome?
      Will the outcome benefit or harm us or do nothing?

  •  It's the President's job to conduct foreign policy (0+ / 0-)

    According to wikipedia American presidents have used military force without asking congress 125 times. That would be about every couple of years if spread out evenly. To be certain, the distribution isn't that even. Many instances were related to the Indian Wars during and after the Civil War.

    To my knowledge none of them was impeached for doing so.

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 05:52:59 AM PDT

    •  Congress and war (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lunacat

      The Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to declare war, fyi: http://www.archives.gov/...

      Your phrase "conduct foreign policy" is broad to the point of meaninglessness.

      Here are some of Congress's authorities, per the Constitution. They all look like "foreign policy" to me.

      To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
      To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
      To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
      Out of sheer curiosity, would you be as gung-ho about the president ignoring Congress if this were President Romney?
      •  I have a couple of copies of the Constitution (0+ / 0-)

        at hand, but thanks for your efforts to educate the ignorant.

        Conducting foreign policy is a broad brush affair. Walking softly doesn't work without the big stick.

        Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

        by Just Bob on Mon Sep 02, 2013 at 06:25:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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