Slatest PM: Syria Resolution Clears First (of Many) Hurdles

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 4 2013 4:28 PM

Slatest PM: Syria Resolution Clears First (of Many) Hurdles

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) asks questions during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill September 3, 2013 in Washington, DC, on congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Syria Resolution Clears Its First (Small) Hurdle: New York Times: "A divided Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved an authorization of force against the Syrian government, setting up a showdown next week in the full Senate on whether President Obama should have the authority to strike. The 10-to-7 vote showed bipartisan support for a strike, but bipartisan opposition as well. Republicans voting yes included Senators John McCain of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Democrats against the authorization included Senators Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Murphy of Connecticut. The Senate’s newest member, Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, voted present. The panel had struggled to draft the resolution, with the senators deeply divided over how much force should be brought to bear to punish Syria’s government for the use of chemical weapons."

Resolution Refresher: Washington Post: "The Senate committee’s version, released late Tuesday by a bipartisan group of senators, would permit up to 90 days of military action against the Syrian government and bar the deployment of U.S. combat troops in Syria, while allowing a small rescue mission in the event of an emergency. The White House also would be required within 30 days of enactment of the resolution to send lawmakers a plan for a diplomatic solution to end the violence in Syria."

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Leaving the Door Open: Associated Press: "With Congress deep in debate over support for a military strike on Syria, President Barack Obama left open the possibility Wednesday that he would order retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack even if the House and Senate withhold their approval. 'As commander in chief, I always preserve the right and responsibility to act on behalf of America's national security,' a traveling Obama said at a news conference in Sweden. In a challenge to lawmakers back home, he said Congress' credibility was on the line, not his own, despite saying a year ago that the use of chemical weapons would cross a 'red line.'"

Missed Signs: Associated Press:  "U.S. officials say intelligence agencies did not detect the Syrian regime readying a massive chemical weapons attack in the days ahead of the strike, only piecing together what had happened after the fact. Senior U.S. officials say intercepted communications of commanders telling Syrian military units to prepare for the strikes against a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21 were in the hands of U.S. intelligence agencies, but had not yet been 'processed.' That explains why the White House didn't warn the regime as it had when detecting previous preparations for chemical strikes."

It's Wednesday, September 4th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at@JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @Slatest.

Ordinary People: Reuters: "The United States does not spy on ordinary people's mail and phone calls, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday, insisting that U.S. intelligence gathering was targeted at specific areas of concern. ... 'I can give assurances to the public in Europe and around the world that we are not going around snooping at people's emails or listening to their phone calls,' Obama said during a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt."

DoMA Repeal Baby Steps: USA Today: "Same-sex spouses of military veterans are the latest beneficiaries of the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama directed his administration on Wednesday to allow veterans' spouses to collect federal benefits, regardless of their sexual orientation. Until now, both the Veterans Administration and the Defense Department restricted those benefits to heterosexual spouses. The announcement follows a decision by congressional backers of the Defense of Marriage Act to drop their opposition to same-sex benefits, as well as a federal district court's ruling that the old policy was unconstitutional."

Castro's Suicide: NBC News: "The man who helped send Ariel Castro to prison for life blasted his cowardice Wednesday as new details emerged about the convicted rapist and kidnapper's apparent suicide. Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said of Castro: 'These degenerate molesters are cowards. They con and capture vulnerable children. ... This man couldn't take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade,' McGinty said in statement. Castro was found hanged in his jail cell just a month after being sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for 10 years, a prison official said early Wednesday."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.