On Tuesday, the president said his administration was moving with caution. Though Obama repeated that the use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer,” he was vague when asked if that meant military action.
Syria is led by President Bashar al-Assad, who has killed tens of thousands of his own people. Numerous reports in recent weeks claim that Assad is using chemical weapons against rebels seeking to overthrow him.
“What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them; we don't have chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened,” said Obama at a White house press conference today. “And when I am making decisions about America's national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts.”
“That's what the American people would expect, and if we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, then we can find ourselves in the position where we can't mobilize the international community to support what we do,” Obama said.
Amid calls from some on Capitol Hill for action in Syria to prevent further bloodshed in that country, Obama further insisted that Assad is no longer a credible leader and must go.
“What is true, though, is that if I can establish -- in a way that not only the United States but also the international community feel confident -- is the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, then that is a game changer because what that portends is potentially even more devastating attacks on civilians,” said Obama. “And it raises the strong possibility that those chemical weapons can fall into the wrong hands and get disseminated in ways that would threaten U.S. security or the security of our allies.”
A reporter then asked, “By game changer, do you mean U.S. military action?”
Obama responded, “By game changer, I mean that we would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us.”