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Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) on Monday called a self-imposed "red line" by President Barack Obama's on the use of chemical weapons in Syria "embarrassing," firmly arguing that American troops should not be reeled into the conflict.
Asked by MSNBC host Mara Schiavocampo whether he was concerned that not authorizing a military strike would send the wrong message to Syria, the New York Democrat said "I love Obama," but a president drawing a red line that could potentially lead the nation to war was "unheard of."
"So, of course, it’s embarrassing," Rangel said. "I wish it didn’t happen. I guess Secretary [John] Kerry is even more embarrassed than me after making his emotional speech that this was urgent."
Rangel added that he was glad Obama decided to give Congress the opportunity to debate a military strike before ordering one himself.
"During those discussions, I hope that other people in the international community would come forward and take this great decision off of the Congress, because we have to make it," he said. "Take it off of the Congress and provide some solution where we are not putting our kids in harm’s way to solve an international problem that we feel bounded, not by law, but because the president has drawn a red line."
Syria is calling on the United Nations to prevent "any aggression on Syria" following President Barack Obama's decision to use force in response to a chemical weapons attack in Damascus last month, Reuters reported Monday.
Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja'afari wrote in a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Perceval that the U.N. Security Council should "maintain its role as a safety valve to prevent the absurd use of force out of the frame of international legitimacy," according to state news agency SANA.
Ja'afari also wrote that the U.S. should "play its role, as a peace sponsor and as a partner to Russia in the preparation for the international conference on Syria and not as a state that uses force against whoever opposes its policies," as quoted by Reuters.
President Barack Obama plans to meet with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Monday at the White House in an attempt to drum up support for limited military strikes against Syria, The Hill reported.
McCain and Graham released a joint statement on Saturday that expressed their support for military action while cautioning that they believe isolated military strikes don't go far enough to deter the Assad regime.
"However, we cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the President's stated goal of Assad's removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests," the statement read. "Anything short of this would be an inadequate response to the crimes against humanity that Assad and his forces are committing."
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Friday agreed with an assessment on the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons delivered by Secretary of State John Kerry, stating the "heinous attack" must not pass without a "meaningful response" from the international community.
"I listened carefully to what Secretary Kerry had to say and believe his remarks should stir the conscience of the world," Feinstein said in a written statement. "He pointed out the high confidence our government has that this was a chemical weapons attack, that it was directed by the Assad regime and that it killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children."
“The unclassified intelligence assessment released today tracks closely with briefings I have received over the past week," the statement continued. "I agree with Secretary Kerry that the world cannot let such a heinous attack pass without a meaningful response, and I hope the international community will take appropriate action.”
The British government approached the New York Times about destroying documents it obtained pertaining to the National Security Agency's British intelligence partner Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Reuters reported Friday.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters that Times executive editor Jill Abramson stonewalled the request from a senior official at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. British officials never followed up on the request, the sources said.
A spokesman for the British Embassy in Washington told Reuters that the British government would not "get into the specifics about our efforts but it should come as no surprise if we approach a person who is in possession of some or all of this material."
"We have presented a witness statement to the court in Britain which explains why we are trying to secure copies of over 58,000 stolen intelligence documents - to protect public safety and our national security," the spokesman added.
A spokeswoman for the Times declined to comment.
Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, revealed earlier this month that U.K. security agents entered that newspaper's offices to destroy hard drives that may have contained information from Snowden's leaks.
An unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment released Friday was accompanied by a map that shows areas reportedly affected by a chemical weapons attack in Damascus, Syria on Aug. 21. More than 1,400 people were killed the attack, including 426 children, according to the assessment.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the Obama administration was releasing an unclassified report on its findings linking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on Aug. 21, urging the public to look at the evidence for themselves.
"I'm not asking you to take my word for it," Kerry said. "Read for yourself, everyone, all of you read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources -- evidence that is already publicly available. Read for yourselves the verdict reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack the Assad regime inflicted."
"So the primary question is really no longer what do we know," Kerry added. "The question is what are we, collectively, what are we in the world going to do about it?"
More than 1,400 people were killed in the devastating attack earlier this month, which was extensively documented on YouTube, including 426 children, the report says.
Kerry also reassured Americans that a possible military intervention in Syria would not repeat the mistakes of the Iraqi invasion.
"More than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment," he said at the State Department.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she wouldn't want to assume the Speaker's gavel again in an interview with National Journal published Thursday.
Asked if she'd like to return to the post, the first female House speaker responded "No, that's not my thing. I did that."
Pelosi told National Journal that she respects the position current House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) occupies, but wouldn't comment on if she empathizes with his challenge of leading a divided caucus.
"He's the speaker of the House. I respect the job," she said. "The position that he holds is a very exalted one. I wish his members would respect his position as much as I do."
Pelosi previously blasted Republicans in the House for voting down their own farm bill in June, calling the legislative debacle "major amateur hour."