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Monday, September 2, 2013

Sen. Leahy: Senators ‘Very, Very Wary’ Of Syria Strike

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is pictured July 31, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is pictured July 31, 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy says the evidence of the Syria regime’s use of chemical weapons is convincing, but the administration faces a Congress worried about military intervention.

Sen. Leahy was among many in Congress who returned from vacation for yesterday’s classified intelligence briefing where top White House officials presented the evidence on Syria’s use of chemical weapons. The White House also sent a draft resolution to Congress seeking authority for military action against Syria.

Sen. Leahy told Here & Now that he is among many who believe that draft is too open ended, saying that as written, “it could allow anything, including heavy military action — not only in Syria but in other parts of the region.”

He added that there are so many Democrats and Republicans voicing similar concerns that “it’s inevitable there will be changes.”

Leahy says the White House will face its “biggest hurdle if it appears that we are going it alone,” in Syria, and that Congress will be asking, “is it going to change things if the United States gets involved, and how long and how thoroughly will we be involved?”

Leahy says he was one of the minority who voted against the Iraq War, because he did not believe the evidence presented then.

“Now, a lot of these senators who voted to go to war in Iraq wish they hadn’t. They realize it cost us a couple of trillion dollars, and nothing was gained by it. That experience, just like the experience a generation ago with Vietnam, makes a lot of senators very very wary.”


  • Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator for Vermont since 1975. He’s the longest serving Democrat in the U.S. Senate, and chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He tweets @SenatorLeahy.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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