Harry Reid Expects 'Full and Open' Debate on Syria Strike

Senate majority leader discusses the use of chemical weapons by the Assad Regime in Syria.
3:00 | 09/09/13

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Transcript for Harry Reid Expects 'Full and Open' Debate on Syria Strike
This president. I just moved to proceed of the joint resolution. Reporter last week by the foreign relations committee -- limited use of force. Against Syria. -- -- demands attention in the senate. And this country. And is to this resolution this animal turn. Regardless of where -- understand on the merits of this issue -- -- agree that we should have this debate. -- to all -- and support proceeding this major. Apple will look occurred Wednesday some time. On the motion proceeding. Under previous order 11 o'clock tomorrow morning -- -- to help. He most perceived -- energy efficiency bill of course it's obvious that we are going to be able to do that. Homework with Republican leader reach -- consent agreement to defer consideration that bill to a later time. On -- -- resolution. I intend senate should have a full open debate -- anchored centers to come to -- -- to begin that debate. Also this week -- Obama won't come to the capitol to address Democratic Caucus. He's extend this invitation to the Republicans also. I -- also. Ever heard back from Republicans to whether they wish to hear from the president. Obama will address the nation tomorrow evening. And senior -- -- administration officials will -- -- centers in the classified setting on Wednesday. -- -- Today. -- could be other meetings in the white house with senators. Put Democrats and Republicans. So much presence animal in this matter for serious attention it deserves. This president. First large scale military use of deadly chemical weapons occurred almost a hundred years ago. The German army deployed chlorine gas -- World War I. During that war. Excuse me. But coming here and that was mistake because they. -- -- normally don't against. During that war World War I -- 1200000. Casualties from attacks with deadly toxins. Chlorine gas mustard gas and other terrible definitely and destructive chemical agents -- Great Britain Austria Hungary France Germany Italy and the United States all suffered losses. This is a horrible weapons. Wrote. German major Coleman's neighbor who reported a first hand battlefield account of the carnage to -- officers. That's what he said this is a horrible weapon. 100000 soldiers died -- president. And most -- casualties were debilitated for life by exposure to these deadly toxins. Effects of these killers -- horrific. Those who didn't die suffered blindness burns and blisters. And labored breathing. And for those who died in was terrible -- anything one can imagine. The great world one -- -- it. He was of Great Britain from Great Britain. He Wilford hall. Wrote the gas soldiers crowd out like -- on fire. They drowned in air thick with poison. The world was horrified by the gruesome -- of these. -- evil weapons of war. And so as a global community we agreed that these weapons should be banished from the battlefield forever. But despite the success of global efforts to eliminate their use today the Syrian government is the second largest -- chemical weapons in the world. Just shortly behind. North Korea. Well documented use of these toxic -- unsavory stockpiles. Our president Bashar Al Assad's regime is a certain violation of the overwhelming international consensus forged against these weapons. Nearly ten decades ago. His presence also a clear violation. Of human decency. But there's not the first time the saudis used chemical weapons against its own set -- We all heard him. -- classified briefings. A number of times it. These have been used. But Mr. President this is the most gruesome and extensive. I watch this morning. Film in my office. Picks up thirteen minutes. Pictures taken. Following the dropping of those. Horrible weapons. I will never get that out of my mind must present. The home. Baby boys and girls dressed -- them. Colorful. -- -- Boys and girls. Some look like teenagers. -- -- spasm arms. And of course. Older people. -- you see. These poisons kill the kids first. There were bodies can't take this as well us. Older folks. Kills the older people. -- -- -- So. The well documented use of these unsavory stockpiles -- Sought. There's a certain violation I repeat an overwhelming international consensus forged against these weapon. -- decades past. I've talked about human decency Mr. President. It's a clear violation of human decency. August 21 attacks killed more than -- thousand civilians. And -- hundreds of these children. This week will further examine the evidence growing. Proving the viciousness. Of these -- Discuss her brutal results. He innocent civilians killed by the Syrian government during those attacks died terrible deaths. That's just just painful and shocking as those suffered the battlefields of World War I. -- justice terrible supposed to convince the global community. Almost a hundred years ago to outlaw the use of such brutal tactics against soldiers and of course against. And -- fans an inside outside murdered last month. The evidence of the Asad regime. And they -- using outlawed nerve agents against own citizens is clear and very convinced. The Syrian government has work to hide the gruesome evidence. They've done a number of different ways put half of them. Bodies have been cleared away. They. Sent a barrage of weaponry and there. Artillery. Tanks blasting the ground blast in the ground to destroy any evidence they could destroy. Still there but they tried. They were tying -- very very hard to hide these gruesome. Attacks. By repeatedly bombing the side of these grisly grizzly unforgettable. Occurrences. Not question. This brutality and demands a response. Satellite imagery. Signals intercept -- -- amateur video shot by witnesses not talked about that Mr. President. Paint a clear picture from -- This awful regime. -- why president Barack Obama sought approval two weeks ago. For targeted military action action will hold -- sought accountable. -- these heinous acts. Congress has -- due diligence. Since President Obama announced he would seek congressional approval for this limited military action -- Syria percent is held -- committee hearings. And briefings in addition to five classified Paul members precincts. -- more briefings much debate come this week. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- The senate foreign relations committee on a bipartisan basis. Pass a resolution restricts use of military force to sixty days. With a single thirty day extension. The resolution reflects -- Obama's proposal for limited military action including strikes -- duration and the Mexico. The resolution plainly states that there -- -- no US military boots on the ground. -- intention of specified in the resolution is not to engage an open ended conflict by an invasion. Nor is the commander in chief's intention to commit ground troops to this conflict -- -- regime change. United States senate will be voting rather to uphold -- -- -- long international consensus that chemical weapons have no place in the battlefield. And certainly no place and attacking innocent civilians. This standard demands any government. He dictator. Or any other government. Have used chemical weapons to be held accountable. Some may disagree with my conclusions just question. I don't expect everyone to agree with the statement on give -- here today. That's. Anyone's rights but this is my firm conviction. Today many Americans say that these atrocities are not. Our business. That they're not. Our concern. I disagree. Any time the powerful -- such. Weapons of terror and destruction against the powerless it is our distance. -- the weapons in question are categorically different. Chemical weapons -- state. Can kill not just dozens or hundreds of people but tens of thousands of innocents. -- -- single attack. Tens of thousands. These weapons don't just pose a threat to the Syrian people. We're -- -- region they pose a threat to every one of us every America. And in particular. -- remember them United States armed forces. If we allow -- slots use of chemical weapons to go unchecked and unanswered. Hostile forces around the world. Will also assume these terrible tax demons like a -- Are permissible -- okay. That America cannot allow. That's why the massacres in Syria -- our business and our concern both as humans and as Americans. America's willingness to stand for what is right should not -- -- its borders. Our intervention on behalf of those in danger hasn't always been popular. Look back at history. There's always been part of our society that prefers isolation. But prior to World War I. Look Mr. President. Prior to World War II. Some tougher isolation. That's easy thing to do. But sitting on the sideline isn't what made the United States of America the greatest nation in the world in years past and yes today. Sitting on the sidelines won't make us a better nation tomorrow. Has America faces yet another crisis of conscience. Another opportunity to intervene on behalf of humanity. My mind returns to that turning point. In the world's history when the United States of America. Faced down an evil regime that murdered millions of innocent citizens. Millions and millions of civilians and prisoners of war were murdered by gas. Nazi death camps. -- -- -- -- Never again -- the world. Never again. Would we permit the use of these poisonous weapons of war. This president. Fourteen blocks from here. Down constitution avenue. To holocaust museum. You walk in there and you'll see -- quote. On the wall. From -- famous inferno. Here's what -- and I quote. The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality. I repeat. The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality. I thought about those words. Very often. And very often lately. Has not consider whether America should take action to prevent further atrocities -- and Syria. In Europe in World War II. Far too many more neutral. Far too many around the world world -- Far too many in America -- neutral. -- -- As president. World war 26. Million Jews. And tens of thousands of Gypsies. Disabled people gay people and political distance for murder. Never again. Now we're faced with that choice. Again. Some say it's not -- -- Some say Syria is too far away. Some saying it's not in our security interest. Russia. China Britain. France Germany Italy and the United States. We should all remember our history. One point. 21200000. Casualties. In World War II from these poisons. -- -- war 11. 1200000. We should remember our history. Rabbi how well. -- respected and famous scholar. Said more than 2000 years ago. Quote if I care only for myself. What am. If not now we have. Hi Harry Reid. Say if not now win. I believe America must set the example for the rest of the world. If America must once again -- As we have before and we will again to set an example for the world so be it that's America. That's who we are as a country. That's what we do as a country. That's what we stand. As a country that's where we stand -- country. That is the American tradition of which I am proud. And a tradition which I have faith will continue we are United States of America.

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