The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday August 27, 2013

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Carrie Halperin, Amanda Van Allen, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

SYRIA ABC News' Chris Good: "President Obama's 'Red Line': What He Actually Said About Syria and Chemical Weapons" President Obama's "red line" on Syria isn't quite as straightforward as it's been made out to be. The president is facing a complicated decision on Syria. With the White House now expressing "very little doubt" that the regime of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in an attack Wednesday outside Damascus, some U.S. lawmakers are calling for a military response - or at least an update on what options are being considered. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Adam Entous, Dion Nissenbaum, and Maria Abi-Habib: "'Little Doubt' Syria Gassed Opposition" In harsh, uncompromising language, Secretary of State John Kerry began laying out the U.S. case for possible military action against Syria, saying there was undeniable evidence that chemical weapons had been used in a deadly attack against a rebel enclave and that it was "a moral obscenity." Obama administration planning centers on carrying out any U.S. and allied strikes on Syria as part of a coalition without United Nations backing, U.S. and European officials said. LINK

Bloomberg's Margaret Talev: " Obama Hasn't Decided on Next Actions on Syria, Official Says" President Barack Obama hasn't decided whether the U.S. will take military action in Syria, according to an administration official who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The administration is considering whether to lay the groundwork for a military response following the latest suspected use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime against civilians. LINK

The Washington Times' Dave Boyer and Guy Taylor: " Obama girds for response against Syria" Secretary of State John F. Kerry declared Monday that a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria was undeniable and an act of "moral obscenity." But tough talk aside, President Obama's aides were working to prepare the American public and allies for a limited U.S. military retaliation while avoiding a larger-scale response that would try to alter the outcome of that country's civil war. LINK

The Washington Post's Karen DeYoung and Anne Gearan: " After Syria Chemical Allegations, Obama Considering Limited Military Strike" President Obama is weighing a military strike against Syria that would be of limited scope and duration, designed to serve as punishment for Syria's use of chemical weapons and as a deterrent, while keeping the United States out of deeper involvement in that country's civil war, according to senior administration officials. The timing of such an attack, which would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles - or, possibly, long-range bombers - striking military targets not directly related to Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, would be dependent on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability in last week's alleged chemical attack; ongoing consultation with allies and Congress; and determination of a justification under international law. LINK

Politico's Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer: " On Hill, Deep Skepticism About Syria Entanglement" Despite mounting evidence that President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his people, many members of Congress still don't see a role for the United States military in Syria. A raft of Republican and Democratic lawmakers - including those directly involved in intelligence oversight - think the U.S. would be wise to take a pass on military intervention in the war-torn country. Their line of thinking goes like this: Sending in U.S. troops now is too late, too dangerous, too pricey and not guaranteed to be successful. And a bombing campaign won't do enough. There's also the fear that the U.S. does not know who would lead Syria if Assad falls. LINK

Politico's Alexander Burns: " Barack Obama's Syria Challenege: A War-Weary Public" President Barack Obama is "gravely" worried about the situation in Syria, the White House says, while Secretary of State John Kerry called the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against civilians a "moral obscenity" that "should shock the conscience of the world." What's not yet clear is whether developments in the Mideast will shock the conscience of the American people enough to win their support for military action. LINK

The New York Times' Michael R. Gordon: " Kerry Cites Clear Evidence Of Chemical Weapon Use In Syria" Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons in attacks on civilians in Syria last week was undeniable and that the Obama administration would hold the Syrian government accountable for a "moral obscenity" that has shocked the world's conscience. In some of the most aggressive language used yet by the administration, Mr. Kerry accused the Syrian government of the "indiscriminate slaughter of civilians" and of cynical efforts to cover up its responsibility for a "cowardly crime." LINK

The Hill's Justin Sink :Report: " Obama weighs limited military strike for Syria chemical use" President Obama is considering a military strike against Syria that is limited in scope in the hopes of preventing the United States from becoming ensnarled in the country's bloody civil war, according to a report in the Washington Post. The attack would likely last no more than two days and involve either sea-launched cruise missiles or long range bombers striking military targets within the country, the paper reported. LINK

POTUS The New York Times' Annie Lowrey: " In Obama's High-Level Appointments, The Scales Still Tip Toward Men" Behind the roiling conversation over whether President Obama might make Janet L. Yellen the first female leader of the Federal Reserve is an uncomfortable reality for the White House: the administration has named no more women to high-level executive branch posts than the Clinton administration did almost two decades ago. The White House has taken steps to even its gender balance in recent months with high-profile nominations like Samantha Power as ambassador to the United Nations and Susan E. Rice as national security adviser. But by most measures of gender diversity, including the proportion of women at the cabinet level, the executive branch looks little different from 20 years ago, even as the House of Representatives, the Senate and corporate America have placed significantly more women in senior roles. LINK

Politico's Blake Hounshell: " Barack Obama, Reluctant Warrior" Nearly five years into a presidency animated in no small measure by getting the United States out of costly wars in the Middle East, Barack Obama finds himself on the cusp of entering a potential quagmire of his own. Circumstances on the ground and building momentum in elite political and policy circles that something vigorous must be done to prevent additional bloodshed and regional chaos point in one direction. Clear majorities of public opinion and Obama's own clear conviction that the United States has spent the last decade overextended militarily in the Middle East point the opposite way. LINK

Bloomberg's Hans Nichols: " Obama Officials Said Divided on Fiscal Debate Strategy" Facing a sixth fiscal showdown with congressional Republicans, President Barack Obama's economic and political advisers are divided over how far to push in pursuit of a deal on the budget and the nation's debt limit, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The debate centers on how comprehensive an agreement the White House should seek to end the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, which is set to slash $109 billion from projected defense and domestic discretionary spending in 2014. LINK

MARCH ON WASHINGTON USA Today's Susan Page: "Julian Bond: March's unmet challenges, 5 decades late" Fifty years ago, he was a 23-year-old working behind the scenes at the March on Washington, delivering speech texts to journalists and Coca-Cola to Sammy Davis Jr. ("Thanks, kid," the actor responded to his delight.) Now Julian Bond, a patriarch of the civil rights movement, remembers a powerful day, a half-century of progress - and an agenda he says has not yet been fulfilled. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO "SUNY Binghamton Students Question Obama on Education Costs" LINK

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