House Intel Chair Volunteers Arab League to Help Secure Chemical Weapons

Rogers: Snowden is a "felon."
National Journal
Sara Sorcher
See more stories about...
Sara Sorcher
Sept. 12, 2013, 8:41 a.m.

Des­pite call­ing the avail­able op­tions to se­cure Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons “pretty aw­ful,” House In­tel­li­gence Chair­man Mike Ro­gers, R-Mich., said it was pos­sible to trans­fer the coun­try’s massive stock­piles to in­ter­na­tion­al con­trol — es­pe­cially with Ar­ab League troops on the ground.

“I do think you can get a good per­cent­age of them, be­cause the As­sad re­gime is also wor­ried these things could fall in the wrong hands and could be used against the re­gime,” Ro­gers told the In­tel­li­gence and Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Al­li­ance sum­mit on Thursday.

Pres­id­ent Obama this week asked a wary Con­gress to post­pone a vote au­thor­iz­ing force to pun­ish Syr­i­an strong­man Bashar al-As­sad for us­ing chem­ic­al weapons against his people to pur­sue dip­lo­mat­ic op­tions in­stead. These op­tions in­clude a res­ol­u­tion at the United Na­tions Se­cur­ity Coun­cil re­quir­ing As­sad to place his chem­ic­al ar­sen­al un­der in­ter­na­tion­al con­trol to be des­troyed. Syr­ia, one of the few coun­tries that nev­er signed the 1992 Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion, is be­lieved to have one of the largest stock­piles of these weapons in the world — and se­cur­ing and des­troy­ing them would be an ar­du­ous task even without a bloody civil war still ra­ging.

To wade in­to Syr­ia, where more than 100,000 people have died in the con­flict, chem­ic­al-weapons in­spect­ors would surely need pro­tec­tion. Ro­gers in­sisted there’s no need for U.S. boots on the ground in Syr­ia. In­stead, the Ar­ab League is “will­ing to provide the sup­port we need, in­clud­ing troops to go in and help se­cure those weapons sys­tems, be­cause they know how dan­ger­ous it is if it pro­lif­er­ates around the Le­vant,” he said.

“So I kind of hope we shake ourselves out of this mal­aise, and the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­groups about how we could im­pact that with a plan that’s mean­ing­ful and em­braces our Ar­ab League part­ners eager to do it,” Ro­gers said. Saudi Ar­a­bia, Qatar, Jordan, and Tur­key are the part­ners “eager” to take on the task, Ro­gers said.

By con­trast, Ro­gers says no Re­pub­lic­an or Demo­crat on his com­mit­tee, or even on the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tees, is in­ter­ested in try­ing to put thou­sands of U.S. troops on the ground. “That’s nuts. It would be a hor­rible de­cision.”

Even with a con­cer­ted mis­sion to pro­tect and des­troy the chem­ic­al weapons, there are dan­ger­ous con­sequences. “We do think there’s go­ing to be some fur­ther dis­pers­al of the chem­ic­al weapons,” Ro­gers said. This is es­pe­cially wor­ry­ing be­cause — as rank­ing mem­ber Dutch Rup­pers­ber­ger, D-Md., noted — oth­er groups might like to get their hands on these weapons. “There’s al-Qaida on one side, Hezbol­lah on the oth­er.”

Syr­ia, Rup­pers­ber­ger says, can­not be trus­ted to fully co­oper­ate. “They have to be totally held ac­count­able. I’m sure they’re mov­ing [their stocks] right now know­ing that this is com­ing at this point,” Rup­pers­ber­ger told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “The only reas­on they’re agree­ing to any­thing at this point is be­cause of the threat of power.” Rup­pers­ber­ger agrees Wash­ing­ton can­not take on this mis­sion alone. “The United States can’t be the sher­iff of the whole world; it’s got to be a co­ali­tion.”

Sar­in, the nerve agent sus­pec­ted of killing hun­dreds of people last month and spark­ing Wash­ing­ton’s call for mil­it­ary ac­tion, can be des­troyed in a short peri­od of time. “In the old days, it was a much more com­plic­ated pro­cess,” Ro­gers says. By con­trast, mus­tard gas and oth­er weapons “are go­ing to take a lot longer; you’ve got to do it with in­cin­er­at­ors.”

What We're Following See More »
NO BATTLEGROUND STATES LEAN TRUMP
NY Times’ Upshot Gives Clinton 68% Chance to Win
6 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Only a day after FiveThirtyEight's Now Cast gave Donald Trump a 57% chance of winning, the New York Times' Upshot fires back with its own analysis that shows Hillary Clinton with a 68% chance to be the next president. Its model "calculates win probabilities for each state," which incorporate recent polls plus "a state's past election results and national polling." Notably, all of the battleground states that "vote like the country as a whole" either lean toward Clinton or are toss-ups. None lean toward Trump.

Source:
HOLCOMB IS A FORMER TOP AIDE
Indiana Lt. Gov. Tapped to Run for Pence’s Seat
43 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

On the second ballot, the Indiana Republican Party's Central Committee tapped Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb as their nominee to succeed Gov. Mike Pence this fall. "Holcomb was a top aide to former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sen. Dan Coats and a former chairman of the state Republican Party."

Source:
AFTER ROLL CALL VOTE
Sanders May Officially Nominate Clinton
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Negotiations are underway to have Bernie Sanders officially nominate Hillary Clinton for president at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, a move that would further signal party unity. According to a source familiar with the talks, the Vermont senator would nominate the presumptive Democratic nominee after the roll call vote."

Source:
THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES
Sanders to Channel His Movement into Local Races
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Bernie Sanders said he'll begin pivoting his campaign to an organization designed to help candidates at the local level around the country. At a breakfast for the Wisconsin delegation to the DNC this morning, he said the new group will "bring people into the political process around a progressive agenda," as it supports candidates "running for school board, for city council, for state legislature."

Source:
MCGINTY: TOOMEY IS AN ASSHOLE
PA Senate Race Heads into the Gutter
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Everything's getting contentious in Philadelphia this week ... especially the Senate race that's being contested there. "Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty called her Republican opponent 'an asshole' while at a labor union event Monday at the Democratic National Convention. The comments about Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) came at a press conference with labor union leaders calling for raising the minimum wage. It was quickly followed by an apology." She immediately apologized in a statement.

Source:
×