House speaker presses Obama for answers on Syria


BY DONNA CASSATA, AP

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner called on President Barack Obama on Wednesday to deliver a specific rationale for using U.S. military force against Syria as a growing number of congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concerns about war with a Mideast nation roiled by civil conflict.

In a letter to the president, the Ohio Republican underscored that he has been supportive of administration policy to date as Obama has called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign and insisted that the use of deadly chemical weapons would be a gross violation of international norms.

Boehner wrote that in light of the administration’s contention that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its people, Obama should provide “a clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action — which is a means, not a policy — will secure U.S. objectives.”

The administration signaled Wednesday that it would act against the Syrian government even without the backing of allies or the United Nations in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital last week. The United States has not presented proof publicly, but Obama said his administration has concluded that the Assad government carried out the large-scale attack on civilians.

Obama said he had not made a decision about how the United States would respond.

The administration was planning a teleconference briefing Thursday on Syria for leaders of the House and Senate and national security committees, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.

Boehner asked Obama to “personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve American credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.”