There Goes the Red Line - US Says Syrian Regime Used Chemical Weapons - But what next? While the likes of Sen. John McCain want "lethal aid" for rebel forces, the Obama administration said tonight it will not yet start arming the rebels or create a no-fly zone. Instead, it will consult with Congress and augment existing non-lethal assistance.
White House will make decisions based on the U.S. national interest and what can make a difference on the ground, according to Rhodes. And they'll do it on their own timetable.
That's not going to make supporters of more intervention very happy.
McCain tonight: "Every bone in my body knows that simply providing weapons will not change the battlefield equation and we must change the battle field equation. Otherwise you are going to see a regional conflict the consequences of which we will be paying for a long long time."
ABC's Jon Williams points out that UNHCR issued updated casualty figures for the Syrian conflict today:
· Identified 92,901 documented cases of individuals killed in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April 2013.
· More than 5,000 killings documented every month since last July
· 27,000 new killings since 1 December
· At least 6,561 minors killed, including at least 1,729 children under ten years old killed
Full write-up on Syria - http://abcn.ws/196VK5i
Rwanda Amnesia - In Criticizing Obama on Syria, Clinton Forgets Rwanda - Dana Hughes points out: In criticizing Obama on Syria, Clinton cited his own leadership in the 1999 NATO intervention to end the conflict in Kosovo, which included the bombing of Serbian forces and strongholds of then-President Slobodan Milosevic.
"You just think how lame you'd be … suppose I had let a million people, two million people be refugees out of Kosovo, a couple hundred thousand people die, and they say, 'You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn't you do it?' And I say, 'because the House of Representatives voted 75 percent against it?' " Clinton said according to audio of the event obtained by Politico and The Daily Beast . "You look like a total wuss, and you would be."
But under Clinton's watch there was another conflict, in 1994, in the tiny African nation of Rwanda, where millions of people did become refugees and 800,000 people were killed in less than two months.
Similar to Syria, there was a bi-partisan push by some Senators and human rights activists for the United States to take action and pressure the UN to help stop the bloodshed in Rwanda. But unlike Syria, which all experts agree is complex, advocates for intervention in Rwanda argued it wouldn't take much. The people doing the killing, the Hutus, did not have a sophisticated weapons system or a strong military. They were mostly young men roaming the streets and killing indiscriminately with machetes and small arms. The former UN Peacekeeper commander, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire told the United Nations and the U.S. that he only needed 5,000 troops at most to end the atrocities and help the Tutsi rebels win. http://abcn.ws/17Kyts3 (Hughes)
Supreme Court Strikes Down BRCA Gene Patent: The Supreme Court ruled today that isolated human genes cannot be patented, a partial defeat for Myriad Genetics, a company that had been awarded patents on the so-called BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in the 1990s.
But the court said DNA molecules engineered by man - including so-called "cDNAs" - are eligible for patents. http://abcn.ws/12JryOY (Ariane DeVogue)
Edward Snowden's Brain Maybe More Valuable to Foreign Governments than Documents: The possibility that NSA leaker Edward Snowden could defect to China - or cooperate in any way with Chinese authorities - is a top concern for U.S. intelligence officials. http://abcn.ws/18D1BT4 (Jonathan Karl)
Did Intel Dir. James Clapper Lie to Congress? It's Complicated: When someone who knows top-secret information is asked about it in a public congressional hearing, what should he or she do?
"The traditional answer is so easy: 'Frankly, senator, I'm unable to answer that in an open hearing,'" said Jim Lewis, a former Foreign Service officer at the State and Commerce Departments.
But James Clapper, director of U.S. national intelligence, one of the highest ranking intelligence officials in the country, didn't do that. He answered the question. http://abcn.ws/1bAEULr (Abby Phillip)
Hillary Clinton Says Women in Politics Have Ripple Effect: A "still jet-lagged" former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today she's turning her focus to help create more opportunities for women in the workplace. "When women participate in the economy everybody benefits. This should be a no-brainer," Clinton said in remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative America event in Chicago. http://abcn.ws/196Kfe6 (Reena Ninan and Matthew Jaffe)
'Short Memories' on Sandy Hook School Slayings: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Congress will not abandon the fight on gun legislation, putting the Republicans - and Democrats - who voted against the bill on notice. "The writing is on the wall," Reid said today, taking the rare move of calling out the four Democrats in his party, along with the Republicans, who opposed the background check proposal. "I'm here to tell you: We're not going to give up the fight." http://abcn.ws/175UjXI (Jeff Zeleny)
Pelosi Slaps Down Reporters Asking Questions on Abortion: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today bickered with a conservative reporter who asked her to explain the moral difference between live-birth murder and abortions executed during the final four months of pregnancy. Pelosi began her news conference today by criticizing a Republican-sponsored bill to ban all abortions after 20 weeks without exception. The bill, H.R. 1797, the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," passed out of the House Judiciary committee Wednesday behind GOP support. http://abcn.ws/10g4wO0 (John Parkinson)
Also - Pelosi danced today - http://wapo.st/13ICTda
Obama's Trip to Africa Comes With a Hefty Price Tag: President Obama's upcoming trip to Africa will require extraordinary security measures and will likely cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, according to a confidential planning document obtained by the Washington Post.
In addition to the hundreds of agents that will be required to secure the president when he visits Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania later this month, the Washington Post reports that military planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks' worth of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the president's hotels. http://abcn.ws/11crUun (Mary Bruce and Devin Dwyer)
Rand Paul And Marco Rubio Pitch Christian Conservatives: Two potential 2016 presidential contenders shifted their focus, briefly, from the wave of scandals buffeting the Obama administration and turned their attention to more worldly matters on Thursday - specifically the persecution of Christians around the globe.
But in separate speeches at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., appeared to suggest different roles for the United States. http://abcn.ws/160CBjM (Michael Falcone)
Will Republicans Listen to Jeb Bush About Immigration Reform?: Jeb Bush is trying his best to convince his fellow Republicans that immigration reform is good for the party, despite concerns among some that there is little to gain politically from allowing a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. "It's always: immigrants don't like Republicans. Why? Why do we assume that?" Bush lamented today at a Bipartisan Policy Center event on immigration. "Why do we assume it's always going to be that way because it currently is that way?" (Abby Phillip) http://abcn.ws/10gmnEz
Reid Warns Bloomberg Against Attacks on Democrats: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that he expressed his displeasure with Michael Bloomberg in a phone call this week over his plan to target Democratic senators who voted against gun legislation, but Reid conceded he could not control the mayor of New York City.
"He's kind of a free spirit, you know," Reid said. "And a rich one." (Jeff Z eleny) http://abcn.ws/11cFspJ
Dingell Honored as Longest Serving in Congressional History: Rep. John Dingell, who is serving his 30th term in the House of Representatives, was honored today as the longest serving member in the history of the U.S. Congress today, having eclipsed the tenure of Sen. Robert Byrd late last week.
Dingell, 86, first took office on Dec. 13, 1955 at the age of 29 after winning a special election to replace his late father, John Dingell Sr., as the representative for Michigan's 15th Congressional District. (John Parkinson)