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McCaul: ‘American Side’ is Ensuring Syrian Chemical Weapons are Destroyed

• August 26, 2013 9:46 am

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Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) said the "American side" in the debate over Syria was to make sure the chemical weapons likely used by the Assad regime on civilians were destroyed Monday on America's Newsroom, adding he feared the stockpiles there could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda.

Expressing his disappointment in the White House's foreign policy, McCaul also remarked President Obama had "no credibility with our international partners" after failing to back up his warnings about Assad crossing the so-called red line:

BILL HEMMER: I watched you on Sunday, and you said repeatedly we need to pick the American side in this fight. What is the American side? Explain that.

MCCAUL: The American side is making sure these chemical weapons are secure and destroyed. There's been a lot of talk about Assad and the rebel forces. This administration has had a failure in foreign policy in my judgment, and that's why we're in the mess we're in today. They drew a red line previously, they crossed that line. Now he's drawing another red line. He has no credibility, unfortunately, with our international partners. As the Chairman of Homeland Security, the No. 1 objective and threat that I see are these chemical weapons stockpiles sitting there in Syria that could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda. Why do I say that? Because the rebel forces that are in Syria right now fighting the Assad regime, now the numbers have ticked up to about 50 percent. Al-Nusra, which is the al-Qaeda faction within Syria. Syria has become a bit of a mecca for jihadists. Every day when I get briefed, every day these jihadists are flowing into Syria. We all know the situation over there, but the last thing we want to see are those weapons fired at Americans.

HEMMER: You said a lot there, but I want to know what's possible militarily when it comes to chemical weapons. You can fire a cruise missile into Damascus, but how is that going to take care of a chemical weapons stockpile?

MCCAUL: It's extremely complicated. The administration had an opportunity about two years ago to support the moderate forces to topple the Assad regime. Now those moderate forces have been hijacked by al-Qaeda, so you have a very difficult, complex foreign policy issue. Cruise missiles can't take out the delivery devices but if they are fired at the chemical weapons themselves, you can cause grave destruction. I don't think we want that kind of result either. We need to build up an international coalition. If we can't take out the delivery devices, then to secure these stockpiles of chemical weapons and ultimately destroy them. But Bill, this is a very, very complex, difficult issue.

CBS reported a senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in an Aug. 21 incident that killed at least 100 people, but added that the president had not yet decided how to respond.