Sen. Lee on Syria Strike: Risks ‘Far Outweigh the Possible Gains’

By Penny Starr | September 5, 2013 | 2:57 PM EDT

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that he opposes President Barack Obama’s plan to strike Syria because of the risk that chemical weapons that President Bashar al-Assad allegedly used on innocent civilians ending up in the wrong hands.

“The risks of the president’s strategy far outweigh the possible gains,” Lee said in a statement. “We cannot ask our men and women in uniform to engage in a military conflict that does not present a national security threat to the United States. 

“Instead, the U.S. should work vigorously to identify and neutralize any real threats to our national security – such as the proliferation of chemical weapons,” Lee said. “We must work to ensure that chemical weapons in Syria do not get into the hands of groups that will use them against American or western targets.”

Lee also addressed the claim that not responding to the Aug. 21 attack that killed some 1,400 people could threaten U.S. credibility.

“The real threat to U.S. credibility is not what happens if we don’t intervene, but what happens if we do without a plan for what comes next,” Lee said.

Lee said a top-secret briefing by Obama’s national security team did not convince him to support the president’s plan.

“After hearing from the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in a top-secret briefing, I do not believe that the range of options the president is considering will accomplish this military objective, and therefore I cannot now support intervention into the Syrian civil war,” Lee said.

The Senate Foreign Relations passed a modified use-of-force resolution requested by the president on Wednesday, with the full Senate expected to vote on it next week.

According to an Associated Press survey of senators, 34 support the strike while 26 oppose it and 40 are undecided.

The AP story also states that Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who along with Lee are members of the House Armed Services Committee, will not support the resolution.