The White House is sending a "confusing message" when Secretary of State John Kerry characterizes a proposed U.S. attack on Syria as "unbelievably small," according to Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
"I don't think describing the size or effort of what our target sets are, or what ship fires what missile, is in our national security interest, candidly. This is part of the problem. That's a very confusing message," the Michigan Republican said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
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"I don't understand what he means by that," Rogers said. "If Congress gave a huge vote and we said, 'We're behind you, Mr. President. You need to take action as you see fit to stop proliferation of chemical weapons,' he should say, 'We'll get a cease-fire, secure these chemical weapons, or bad things are going to happen to you.' End of story."
President Barack Obama should quickly address his overall foreign-policy plan, Rogers said.
"I think the president has done an awful job on explaining foreign policy, in general. You haven't seen him do any international foreign-policy, national-security type speeches, of any magnitude in five years. So what happens is he comes this week, really, to start his case on why this is important for U.S. national-security interests.
"What we need is a path forward. Hopefully he'll show America a little confidence and talk to them about why it's important to the United States," he said.
Rogers maintained that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons at least nine times, and as many as 14 times, against Syrian citizens.
"The British think 14. We're somewhere around nine that we can conclusively, at least in my mind, say the Assad regime used. And they escalated over time," he said.
Assad regime's used chemical weapons to deter Syria's rebel uprising, and it was emboldened when its use of chemical weapons went unchallenged, Rogers stated.
"We've seen them use chemical weapons to deny the rebels, in one particular case a logistics hub, where they were exchanging weapons and trying to get ammunition," Rogers said. "They used chemical weapons to their advantage. When nothing happened in those cases it got worse. They escalated it and escalated it. "
Rogers said the rebels fighting against the Assad regime would have had no reason to use chemical weapons, as some reports have suggested.
"So some notion there's a rogue guy that decided to use chemical weapons — I don't buy it," Rogers said. "What would have been the tactical advantage for the rebels to use it?"
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