The first in a series of congressional hearings on the use of US military force in Syria kicked off on Tuesday. Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, made the case before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for limited military action in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria on Aug 21. The Obama Administration blames the Syrian regime for this attack, which reportedly killed some 1,400 people. “We can tell you beyond any reasonable doubt that our evidence proves the [Bashar] Assad regime prepared for this attack . . . [and] warned its own forces to use gas masks,” Kerry told the lawmakers at the Sept. 3 hearing. He said the Administration “declassified unprecedented amounts of information” to show undeniably to the American people and world community the Syrian government’s culpability. Kerry said Hagel, Dempsey, and he “are especially sensitive” to never ask Congress “to take a vote on faulty intelligence,” after what Kerry said was the misguided decision to intervene militarily in Iraq in 2003. “That is why our intelligence community has scrubbed and rescrubbed the evidence” on the Aug. 21 incident, he said.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.