White House Preparing to Release Justification for Syria Strike

In the next day or so, the Obama administration will release a declassified report justifying military action in Syria, according to CBS News's Major Garrett.

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In the next day or so, the Obama administration will release a declassified report justifying military action in Syria, according to CBS News's Major Garrett. That report is meant as a precursor to any military options the president may decide to take against the country in retaliation for a devastating chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week. The report will concentrate on what the U.S. believes are Syrian violations of the Geneva Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Officially, American military intervention in Syria is still an "if," as evidenced by Press Secretary Jay Carney's repeated refusal at today's press briefing to "speculate" on what the president is considering at this time. But John Kerry's forceful speech on Syria today brought many to the conclusion that the "if" was now a "when." During that speech, Kerry promised the release of additional information pertaining to the U.S.'s stance that the existence of a chemical attack in Syria last week was "undeniable," and that the bulk of evidence suggested the Assad regime was behind it. Plus, the U.S. already has cruise missiles in range of the country, according to multiple reports. CBS's report, based on accounts of a Saturday meeting between Obama's top national security advisers, bolsters the case that the U.S. is preparing to choose a military course of action against Syria. And while that's not a certainty at this time, there is little out there to suggest otherwise. An anonymous official told CNN, for instance, that military action against Syria could happen as soon as mid-week, should the president go ahead an authorize it.

The international community, led by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, have pressured the Obama administration to take decisive action against Syria in retaliation for the chemical attacks. But Assad isn't the only one who would like to see the U.S. stay away from intervention. Russia, for one, sides with Assad, and has warned the U.S. against any military intervention. Meanwhile, the idea of intervention is extremely unpopular among Americans. Just 9 percent of Americans support military intervention in Syria. More Americans, 25 percent, would get behind it, they said, in the event of a chemical attack.

Some U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, too, are skeptical, as Politico reports:

Their line of thinking goes like this: Sending in U.S. troops now is too late, too dangerous, too pricey and not guaranteed to be successful. And a bombing campaign won’t do enough. There’s also the fear that the U.S. does not know who would lead Syria if Assad falls.

Obama's supporters in Congress on limited intervention in Syria include Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with fellow hawk Rep. Peter King, who told CNN today that he supports "maximum use" of cruise missiles to hit key Syrian targets, but not boots on the ground or air strikes that would put American lives in danger. "I believe the president has to take action, not just because of Syria, but because of the entire region," he said, referring by name to Iran. King added that he didn't think the president needed Congressional approval in order to go ahead and authorize military intervention, though some of his colleagues disagree

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.